clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Saturday, January 6, 2018

On the Page

Image above from Przykuta and Ellywa as hosted on wikicommons and used here with attribution.

I spent some time this holiday going over some iced drafts of short stories from early 2017. Each of the five had been iced after a considerable bit of work marking each as "nearly ready" but for another word choice pass and maybe a little more trimming-down.

I find in each of the three dark stories I have broken characters but too little of the "broken" part is spilling onto the page. The characters are not sufficiently wounded or react with a sufficient wince to the stories' pin-pricks dwelling on their past mistakes.

Too little mayhem on the page. I know, right?

The topics are serious. The conflict is serious (is there any other kind?), the stakes are high; but,  the emotional tumult of the situations are inexpertly expressed.

Remember in The Road the early section where McCarthy has the father and child enter the old gas station and the father picks up a telephone to call his own father's number from the "before" and the child turns asking, "What are you doing?" That pinprick of criticism in a child's voice bringing all the missed opportunities and unfinished business of the "before" and the almost scathing reminder to focus on the "now" resonates so clearly that even my inept relation of the piece here makes sense to you.

The father is burdened by his memories and experiences of what he lost. The child knows only this present desolation and has no patience for anything but the current, the "now" -- nor should the father indulge himself given the current tumult.

I need this pinprick of resonance and I've missed it. If my protagonist's adversary is a mirror of his opposite's twisted experience and wounded perspective, put it on the page!

  So, the light pieces where crime is sanitized and acceptable, fine. In the pieces I intended to master when I started with the pen seriously again here eight years ago, I missed it.

I see it now, though. Revisions can fix anything. I've almost got the chops now to say that with real confidence instead of false bravado.

Almost. Pretty damn close.

I've got some good stuff in here folks. I'm going to get it out very soon.

I hope you do as well.

Let's spill some of the best and brightest ink we can this winter's session.