Quick Change: How I Lost a Novel but Gained a Metaphor

Lindy Thibodaux
3 min readFeb 7, 2019

Participating in NaNoWriMo* was, for me, a lot like trying to decide what to wear for a big holiday party — without the aid of an official dress code.

Understand, I’m not usually at a loss to assemble an ensemble. Nor do I struggle to come up with writing ideas. But this project proved to be challenging in one way that I anticipated (this being my first attempt at non-screenplay fiction), and another that I didn’t expect.

It all started so well. I had a plot, setting, and most of the main characters sketched out, and by Day 2, had also worked out the key structural points, and come up with a decent working title: Costume Change. And thanks to a tantalizingly empty little box on my NaNo project page, I’d even designed a book cover, in my own photo-montage style. I was all dressed up and ready to dazzle the novel-reading world.

The novel that never was. Alas.

Then I got the e-mail. It was an innocent message, simply reminding me that the deadline for the Writer’s Digest Short-Short Story competition was just two days away. And since I had intended to enter anyway, I saw this as the perfect opportunity: I could write a barely-clothed version of my story (in 1500 words or less, no less), and in doing so, not only sharpen its focus through ruthless editing, but also treat it as a warm-up exercise for my first full-length fictional…

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Lindy Thibodaux

Writes about the transformative power of color. Designs. Plays piano, speaks French, dances Argentine tango. Loves. https://www.colormusing.com