Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Gold Coins and Fragments

Been a hectic fortnight.

Short story is finished (1,500 words precisely) and submitted.
It came out good, and I found I had little trouble editing it.
In my final pass, I tweaked the flow of the subliminal themes, replacing words here and there. In doing this, I'm not touching the structure; I'm simply strengthening the emotion sets.
I struggled a little finding the language, ensuring that everything fitted my protag (first-person, eleven-year-old girl, scientific experiment, violated and tortured, tutored under great and obsessive minds). Oh, and I found a horrendous hole in the plot, the result of a previous edit. Two cigarettes and a coffee showed me the resolution, and it was a simple amendment to a line of dialogue.
I'm a little unconvinced by the ending, and time will tell if this is a justified concern or if it is the writer's curse (detesting pretty much everything one writes).
But I delivered it with much less consternation than I think I expected. Curious.

Lots and lots of work on The Commuters.
Scrapped original opening and wrote a new version.
Rewrote second chapter.
Wrote a new chapter to bridge third and fourth chapters.

My original opening was too dull. What to do?
Well, first of all, I should give myself credit for realizing this; for listening and understanding and holding up my hand and shouting 'I am dull! I am a buffoon!': I've come to see that this is not a common skill.
I decided to try out Burroughs' fragmentary routines technique (I've been itching to try it out for a while now). I lifted all the best material from my unused chapters - a reservoir of gold coins that I keep to one side for later insertion into the narrative - and spliced them into an opening.
Some very unexpected things arose!
Because these gold coins were intended for use later in the novel, they reference people and themes that have yet to be introduced or developed. By compiling all of these things into the opening, all of these things became exposition in the form of a gold coin! How cool! I've been contemplating ways to make exposition (much more) interesting for ages, and this is a great technique!
Another unexpected result was that, when these things are introduced later on, at the point where they were originally to be introduced, the exposition seems very peculiar, as though the protag has completely forgotten that he has already introduced the reader to these things. This does very unusual and complex things to the reader's understanding of him and his nature. I feel that Corus has had memory lapses, and this adds weight to his illness.
Furthermore, the leaps between the fragments create a kind of zoetropic blacking out effect - a kind of distancing from reality.
What I have now is an interesting opening - a stream of gold coins - which is how I constructed my short story. It offers the reader no reason for leaving.

I've started addressing the rest of the ms as it currently exists. I have far too many dull, philosophical moments that nobody really cares to read. It's depressing to me - I feel as though I am cheapening my work; dumbing down - but I'm wise enough now, and confident enough, to listen to my beta readers with an open mind, and throw out swathes of hard-won narrative without shedding a tear.
I wonder just how many gold coins I can cram into my novel? This is my new goal.

No comments: