Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stories within stories: a Snippet from "Snow"

I talked about characters in yesterday's post. How I create them and they tell me the story. Sometimes little pieces of story simply become snippets---a story they told me which influences them but serves as back story, much like "Judith".

I've been revising Rain over the past few weeks but I've also been working on my second project, Snow, with an eye to having them both ready (possibly) for next year's writing conference. As happens with me, a name caught my eye and, while I knew she was important, I didn't or don't pursue that particular story in Snow. It's backstory again. And, yet, I liked it. Another story is folded up inside. Would you like a peek at the snippet? It's unedited rough draft and incomplete (even now my fingers itch to rephrase and elaborate some things). I think I'm going to finish it up as a short story and put it up on Scribophile. The story folded inside? Please tell me in the comments if you see it as well as I do and ,if I wrote it, would you read it?

Writing in a Crowded Room

No, this isn't about Nanowrimo, that mega-writing event taking over next month in some writing circles. I write every day so I don't need the incentive. It would be like performing the Heimlich maneuver on someone who isn't choking.

I've said I started late to writing and I've said my teachers in junior and senior high didn't see half my writing. That is all true. But I remembered something I did a very long time ago which should have told me something. The memory drifted back into my current consciousness after I asked someone if they would like to look at some character sketches. I may be a pantster in the plotting department but sometimes I think I overdo it a bit in the character department. Where did that come from? Where did that start? Very simple

When I was around 13 or 14, maybe younger, I started doing something when dragged by my parents to an event I didn't want to go to. Sometimes it was a public event; sometimes it was a family reunion where half of the people were unfamiliar to me.

I took a notebook and a pen with me. Looking around I would spot a face in the crowd that interested me. Where my older brother would start drawing a picture I would start describing their face, the way they wore their hair, what they wore, what caught my attention, how they moved. how they used their hands as they talked, their facial expressions. After getting down all I could see (but actually could not hear---I was never close enough to hear and too shy to approach), I would start my usual Pochemuchka-like behavior.
  • What did they do for a living?
  • What were they doing in that venue?
  • How did they fit or not fit?
  • Why were they happy or unhappy?
  • What was making them feel/act that way?
Shall I stop now? I could write more questions. It comes easily to me. And, yes, out of all those questions a little story would arise. I didn't write down the story I'm sad to say and all of those character sketches have been lost over the years. Probably stuffed into a box and tossed out as useless later. I'd probably have them in a zip file if it had all happened in the Internet Era.

I do think it molded my method. Character comes first--story comes out of the character. I don't think I can state without hesitation my stories are character-driven. I don't think they fit that definition. It's more a matter of creating a character complex enough, real enough for them to tell their story to me.

How long or how well I can execute that method I don't know. But I keep discovering characters and listening.