“‘The cat sat on the mat’ is not the beginning of a story,
but ‘the cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is.” —John Le Carré
I'm also reading a couple books on writing, including my latest fave: The Modern Library's Writer's Workshop, written by a guy ran Columbia U's creative writing program. In his section on revision he has some interesting advice:
Write out a summary of your story. And then keep writing out other summaries, changing the way it's told: "Change the beginning, change the ending, shift points of view and perspectives. Keep each summary short [not more than 3000 words] and try never to devote more than a day's work to any one of them. ...you are testing the possibilities. ...When you are fully satisfied, you will have a map for your second draft."
So that's kind of what I've been doing. Tweaking something, and then trying to retell the story, see if it works better or worse.
He also advises complete rewrites when making new drafts, which another writing teacher advised in another very good book: A Passion for Narrative. This latter guy said that among the students whose work was published or won awards/contests, they were more often the rewriters.
I've always just worked over the first draft, albeit several times. But this time my second draft will be a complete rewrite, and I think that's why I wrote so many words in May. There's an expression my brother shared with me: "Write for the trash can." When you know the first draft is only the primordial soup from which your story will crawl, it doesn't have to be neat, it can be experimental, you can shift POVs, you can cut a character and not go back to erase him, you can just write and let the ideas come at you. You can let your inner pantser pants.
Anyway, I'm happy with my (not even finished!) trash can draft. But now I've got to figure out what's gonna crawl out of it.