"Dots are believed by many writers of our day to be a good substitute for effective writing. They are certainly an easy one. Let us have a few more......"
M.R. James, Stories I Have Tried To Write
It would appear that writers (good, bad, ugly, or indifferent) all know this feeling. It's the feeling of being haunted by the Ghosts Of Stories Past. The alternate story-lines. The ways It Could Have Gone, only to eventually culminate in a frusrated deleting of files and much screwing up of paper and gnashing of teeth all round. Sometimes stories just don't want to be written, and they'll fight you all the way for that inch of debated ground.
Personally, I blame the characters. They have entirely themselves to blame.
Fairly recently, after protracted and very, very boring readings of Moby Dick, I had an idea of livening things up a little with the thunderous ramblings of good old Captain Ahab. After checking to see whether a niche as romantic hero had been filled in the pantheon of fanfiction (No, by the way. The only fic to date that isn't slash is about the good Captain working in er... Starbucks), I decided to be a pioneer for romance in Melville. Ahab is a tragic Heathcliff/Mr Rochester-esque figure! After a lifetime of chasing whales with 'smoking fury', he finally finds solace in the arms of a Mary-Sue by the name of Penitence Harnett (but a demure Quaker one, and certainly female) until his restless obsession finally led him onwards to his tragic death. It was brilliant! Ahab's past cranked up every Victorian melodrama lever you could mention. I successfully wrote about the madness of his mother (throwing herself off a cliff into the sea at his christening, after giving him a terrible blasphemous name), it was full speed ahead for all-out romance...
And then it stopped. Dead. I couldn't write another word. I had the plot, everything fleshed out. But I just couldn't write Ahab. After a while, I gave up trying.
Personally, I sometimes wonder if it was some sort of character protest against taking him in vain, but why protest at that and not the slash and Starbucks? It was very mild mockery compared to some things.
It may resurface eventually if I can get past the block and, verily, find myself a window into the 'Old Mogul's' madness. Forsooth, t'is an arduous task.
Another fic I never wrote was a Tiberias/OC Kingdom of Heaven thing. I know, I know, I was stupid - besides, a very little research reveals his wife Eschiva, and the actual history alone offers far more intriguing possibilities. I learnt that early on in my writing career. But originally Tu Salus Fidelium was going to be just that. Possibly there are still dim traces of it in the early chapters.
Not to mention the re-animated spectre of a Frankenstein fiction. Gothic early nineteenth century style doesn't seem to have been attempted so far, and I am quite willing to try my hand at a little Mary Shelley fun . 'These visions faded when I perused, for the first time, those poets whose effusions entranced my soul and lifted it to heaven.'
Ah well. These are all dim reproachful shades at the moment. But nice to bear in mind, certainly :P