Still in the wilderness of rewriting with the story I mentioned last week - had a lot else on my plate, much of which has sapped the energy with which I use to operate my brain. So the Humvee of my creative process has been stranded in the jungle of ... let's just stop that metaphor right there.
In reviewing the story for its new beginning, I was astonished by the fact that I had merely glossed over some of the backdrop elements. In the story, I have a competition hosted by a king as an elaborate hospitality gesture to the nobility of ten nations conquered by a vaguely defined rampaging horde. This is primarily the hook for the character's story goal - to win one facet of the competition - but there's so many other implications I'm shocked I didn't develop further.
For instance, this celebration / competition is supposed to be an escape from the grimness of the war ... but I didn't do much to show its effect on the victims. Some of the captured nations resent the frivolity, and I did use that as a plot point ... but it was one note in the story and especially with the ending, deserves more attention.
If I extended all the implications here to their furthest reaches, I could probably write a whole novel around this one competition - or at least a 20-30k word novella. I don't want to do that, but the original story exists in so much of a vacuum that it startled me to think I was such a thoughtless writer ... especially because my usual tendency is the exact opposite: I include way too much flavor, background and culture in all but the shortest works.
For me, though, it's those brilliant flashes that make a short story sing: that beautiful sense of the iceberg beneath.