I spent three hours last night wrestling the first draft of a short story into the ground. The story only really took flight after I realized that rather than creating a random character for the POV character to interact with, I just had to drop in an existing series character who hadn’t shown up in this story, but plausibly could. She showed up and the story entered that magical realm where I feel like I’m not writing, I’m just sitting back and transcribing as the characters play out the situation.
This is the main reason I like writing series fiction. By creating an entire world, and a fairly big cast of characters, I have lots of options for storytelling. This character wasn’t supposed to be in this story — it was more a look at the younger generation at a time well before the first novel. But she was just what the story needed to push the POV character past his fears. The story needs a fair amount of work, but it’s smaller things — language, tweaks to set up later developments, that sort of thing. I have a whole list of those changes ready to dig into tonight.