clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hasty Kill

Professional hunters call it the "hasty kill." It's the excitement of taking a near-trophy when the record-holder will be along directly.

I mapped out the current work-in-progress and realize it is tipping towards my most consistent fault : the single-passenger story.

Character-driven story telling needs a handy hook, a plausible plot, and a wealth of character interaction to illustrate the various emotional states and perspectives of our protagonist. We might love a character but to make the reader love them they must appear as actual people. The single-passenger story of brooding sort going here, doing that, and returning to somewhere else in near isolation really does not illustrate the depth necessary to make a reader "give a shit."

Steve Almond talks about the "WTF" syndrome of convoluted story telling that implies the reader will continue just to answer "WTF ?"  My pet is the "give a shit" which occurs when we follow a lone character wandering a world of brief interaction who does not convey enough emotional substance to have a chance in Hell of inducing empathy from the reader. No empathy, no chance of love and certainly the character missed the "give a shit" train by hours.

So, in my WIP I cannot kill off the principal emotional foil without introducing another. I have done so.  I have accelerated the transition from isolated and withdrawn character disbelieving his own worth due to shock (death of sole friend) and confrontation  with a normal - though giving - human being who is not willing to take withdrawn and silent for a response. I hate conversation by interrogation; but, interrogation is what the protagonist encounters and it is a small trigger to his realization that he has to be a human being.

In the case of this story, the protagonist is a reluctant Christ so the "caring about someone else" and "being a human being" have more than passing meaning. Please forgive the heavy handed approach here in the blog ABOUT a story. I am not so coarse or transparent in action within the story. We read the book ...not just the dust jacket.

So - there we are. [ I had a Bible as a child that had photographs of the holy land within some of the pages in the new Testament. I wondered why such a shitland would be holy. Was God just an idiot ?  West Ireand ? Wales ? No. New England ? No. Shitland South Lebanon. Great pick. It might not be the asshole of the world but I swear you can smell it from there. Then, I went to plains and thought it was remarkably like the holy land ...only better. THAT is a horrid thought.  Osborne county Kansas can be pretty bleak. It's just the sort of place for a second coming of Christ.]

I also have a nice start on the plot for a bit of pulp to share. Some posts ago I talked about posting content. I have a piece or two of pulp I like and will work up for this end. They involve far less of my personal emotional currency than the main WIP. They'll be a good break.

I've also decided to use three pen names. One for the speculative pulp I enjoyed when younger; one for the lies, deceit and murder angle; and one for the more literary work whose center of gravity is more on character and less on action.

It sounds hilarious from this point. However, since I am releasing short stories before longer works, I don't want to cross "Paradise stories" and "exploding chickens" when an agent considers how I have contributed to my own marketing.

Paradise stories are those tales of the emotional horrors in the backwater provinces. Betrayal means more when there are only a dozen people you see.  Trust me.

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