Monday, 29 January 2007


I've finished the second pass of my ss, and performed a first pass edit and am down to 1,560 odd words. Strict word limits are superb for forcing the writer to really understand what is and isn't necessary: What does each sentence add to the whole?

I'm constantly surprised by some of the stuff that my brain comes up with; so many obscure connections are made - wonderful connections - and I'd love to know how much of this is controllable and how much just happens. Is there anything I'm doing that makes these connections occur, or is it down to my make-up? Are writers, as Stephen King asserts, born rather than made?

The short-story competition is based on the post-facto premise 'It seemed like a good idea at the time.' One of my subtexts is about regret - more specifically, curiosity gone wrong. To this end, I began to think about the idea of getting one's fingers burned.
Imagine my kinaesthetic opening - the sun beating on my protag's skin.
Now I open with my protag holding her hand up to the sun, watching her fingers 'burning' in its glare. At this point, the finger burning is not literal, and there is tranquility.
By the ending, the tone has changed dramatically, not least kinaesthetically: the wind has picked up and the waves have grown and the sand is coated in coarse grass that scratches protag's bare feet, and there are rocks that are slimy with weeds. Moreover, I make much out of skinning and also feeling uncomfortable in one's own skin. I turn from having the reader relax in the protag's skin, feeling the pleasing warmth of the sunlight and the refreshing coolness of water around their ankles, to making the sensation of being dressed in skin utterly revolting and even painful.
I end with a thought - a happy memory from protag's life, where she and Kov are comforting protag's little sister. Now, the circumstances are unimportant, and I began with a thunderstorm. This idea never really appealed because it is stream of consciousness rubbish - it was the first thing that came to mind, and I rarely use the first idea beyond the first pass - it serves as a springboard.
When I made the finger burning connection, I decided that I would get so much more from having protag's sister tortured such that protag and Kov are comforting her after she has literally had her fingers burned. Cool!
Then, with a final blow, imagine how awesome it would be to have the little sister suck her thumb and press her stuffed toy to her cheek! Now, a perfectly innocent childlike action is transformed - violated - and the moment becomes memorable and powerful.

On the one hand (see - another link! :o) I work from my notebooks - rarely a day passes, and never a whole week, without my adding observations, dreams and random thoughts to my notebooks. My notebooks go everywhere with me, even to bed.
On the other hand, there is so much stuff that grows organically. So, whilst I might be making my life easier with my notebooks - my way of capturing and retaining the muse - and I am laying strong foundations, I am infinitely fascinated by what my overworked little brain does next - how it assembles everything and forms connections that are sometimes so deep or obscure that they might seem like divine inspirations!
O to fathom the mysteries of the brain and to invoke these wonders on a whim!

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