Thursday, 17 December 2009

Writing what you feel as well as what you know

I've now got 4 perfectly good short stories, none of which is suitable for my TMA though maybe they would be better for competitions. So, going back to basics, the short stories that I know are the best are all from emotional experiences of mine or of close friends. Since I have an incredibly rare day all alone from 10 in the morning until midnight, I have run off a painful first draft of the experience of attending my sister's funeral, as a starting point. The contrast between the funeral of a loved one who had a death through illness, with all the expectation and professional support, funeral services etc. and the service in a mortuary with an unexpected death was my base camp, along with a chance encounter. We were clearing out my sister's house when one of her friends came to the house, freaking us out because I had only heard his name and never met most of my sister's friends. It made the day more mysterious and confusing, a bit like her death.

So I wrote 2.3k words in an hour, and it flowed really easily but painfully. Now I have to make some decisions. It wrote itself in first person - not my favourite to be honest. But I know from experience that going to third person omniscient can be difficult, I tend to water down the feelings involved, distancing myself from it rather than keeping the emotions in there. My voice character is rather prissy and easily shocked, not very lovable. I managed to create settings thinly but have to improve that. First person makes it hard to conjure an image of the speaker, too. The biggest problem for me is the showing not telling that my first drafts are weak on. I need to go through and highlight areas I can work on, but it's a couple f days work before it's ready to read out loud (my personal method of working!). Oh, and I need to work more suspense in there, that's for me, to ramp up the plot element. Did I mention that it has a very conventional beginning, middle and an end? It clearly needs to start at a high emotional point, but I'm not sure how to. At least, after weeks of limping along, I'm energised by my writing again. And I have lots for my commentary!

Not to mention I have material for a poem as well! TMA03, here I come.

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