In the past couple of years I've made several attempts to finish The Pilgrimage of Ian St. Ritz. At writer's night I had read up to where I had written the story, where it ends with a fight between Ian and a desert nomad on a cliff. The general consensus was that the fight could be longer and more dramatic, and that's one of the things I had tried to fix.
As it turns out, I tried to fix it more than once. Recently I'd rewritten the scene, and then written the next scene, only to discover a different version of the same file on another computer. This other version turned out to have a more complete rewrite of the scene and a more complete next scene, and a bit written for the scene that follows.
The nomad charged, knife held high. Ian ducked. The nomad flew past. Ian shoved the butt of the rifle into the nomad's back.
The nomad stumbled. He snagged the rifle strap as he passed, dragging Ian to the cliff edge. He swung the knife. Ian twised the rifle, striking the nomad's hand. The knife went flying. It skittered across the stone and over the edge.
Ian rammed rifle into jaw. The nomad fell back. He leaned out over the edge, clinging tightly to the rifle strap.
The nomad twisted about, pulling himself back from the edge and pulling Ian towards it. For several moments they struggled, the rifle between them, dancing along the edge of a sheer cliff. The nomad managed to swing around so that Ian was hanging out over empty space. The only thing preventing him from falling was his grip on the rifle, which the nomad also held tightly.
The nomad hissed. The stench of unwashed fur and spicy, cloying pacca root was overpowering. He slammed his head into Ian's chest once, then again. The breath was driven from Ian's lungs. He saw stars. He felt is grip on the rifle loosen.
A clod of dirt struck the nomad in the head. Ian blinked. Gao was standing a few feet away, trembling violently. "You leave my friend alone!" the capybara yelled. "He's a pilgrim! He has an appointment to keep!"
The nomad turned his head. Ian took one hand from the rifle and jabbed at the nomad's eye. The nomad screamed in rage and pain. Ian swung himself about, and suddenly he was back on solid footing, with the nomad swinging out over the abyss, saved from falling only by his own grip on the rifle.
Ian let go.
With a scream, he disappeared from view.
Ian staggered back from the cliff edge. He stared for a long moment out towards the desert floor, then reached for a cigarette, only to be reminded again that he had none. "I don't get paid enough for this," he muttered, turning to Gao and the elevator.
True to how my mind works, both versions were very similar. I tend to have these stories figured out in my head, or major points/portions of the story figured out in my head, and I've noticed this before, that if I write a scene from what's in my head, and then later forget I've written it and write it down again, it's very similar to what I wrote the first time.
Yesterday I printed out both versions and worked on integrating them. I liked the original version better, it was more complete and included a couple of nice touches that I forgot about when I wrote it a second time (Gao helps Ian in the first version, but not in the second. The first was better. But the bit after "he disappeared from view" comes from the second version.) My plan was to go home and work on the next scene, but instead I had to come back to work later in the evening to help out because someone called in sick, so I didn't get any real writing done yesterday aside from combining the two different versions of the story into a single version.
Saturday is writer's night, but I think I still have time to finish this story. We'll see. But the good news, at least, is that I'm working on Tai-Pan story finally.