clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Thursday, February 28, 2013

To Stand Naked

A writing group I attend plays parlor games with words. Often, these are quick bits crafted from a prompt to sharpen our imaginations.

I attend because it seems to sharpen the focus on the hook. Also, because I find writing in the dark week after week horrendously lonely. I'm not even a social sort of person and I find it a strain.

I have a story that I have to edit and I am having some trouble with the first few lines of introduction. Hardly a unique situation.

My character is a liar and his admission of the extent of his deception is critical to the story.

His confessional to the reader in first person is horrible when short and pedantic when long. I don't even like first person past a few paragraphs myself because it feels like a gimmick.

I'm going to have to create an additional character in the introduction. I'm going to have to make a throw away character to whom he explains this worldview by means of a confessional.

I despise a wrinkle in the chronology but I might have to craft one for this bit. I know it will get confined to form letter if I do anything but linear story telling.

This one is difficult for me. The character is drawn so strongly from a confessional about a pursuit of deception that I am really hesitant to give it up.

I am going to try a new recipe.  "The Story Opening 20 Ways." I'm going to finish the rough of the work I'm on now then craft the 20 different openings for this other work that devils my mind.

I'll most likely post some of those I like best here. There is nothing like the simple act of posting something to bring that hot glare from indicator light of the bullshit detector. I do not know what it is; but, if I put a sample of something up here then that simple act allows me to see the work as I read others rather than how I see it when it is on my desk.

I'll label them clearly so you can skip over them on days I post them. I'm not sure right now how to quickly judge one versus another myself. The posting is all I can think think of to speedily help my clarity of vision.

Maybe there is another way. I haven't got months to wait on this story. I need to drag it to a conference.


2 comments:

celeste holloway said...

Hey Jack,

I know what you mean. If I post an excerpt on my blog or in the body of an email, I see it with different eyes. Strange, but useful. You sound nearly in knots over this dilemma. Maybe you need a break from that story. Knowing you, you've got a stack of manuscripts to dig into. Work on something else until your brain decides to play nice. Otherwise, post away. I'd love to read more of your work. :)

j welling said...

I cannot adequately express the relief in hearing the phrase "I know what you mean."

I am struggling to be more focused in my writing, and by that I mean be more aware of the application of good form and technique. I'm taking Vonnegut to heart: every sentence advances the action or reveals the character. It means there is no "backing into" some element in an elegant and wrongheaded way. I'm not Proust and my words themselves are of no interest to the reader. The story matters. The character matters. My language exists only to enhance one or the other of story and character.

It can be a bear to have to drive the story forward in a clean, concise, and effective manner. All my lazy and imprecise crutches are thrown to the wayside.