So here is the a little behind the scenes peak at the creative process behind the Short Story Challenges of weeks 5-10, (For weeks 1-4, click HERE).
Opening Line: Four Children were left on Martha’s doorstep, one each for the four seasons. Winter’s baby came last, wrapped in night and gazing at the stars…
This one was a beautifully written and intriguing opening sentence. Writing a story about each of the four different children was a given for me – the challenge here was to condense each one to the appropriate amount to keep the story at a reasonable length.
I chose to distance the narrator of the story from the events somewhat, in order to give it a fairytale-like feel - but then again, of course a story where four babies are left consecutively on one woman’s doorstep is unlikely to exist in a real world setting.
I liked the idea of each child having different temperaments that end up defining their personalities and their respective future’s, all foreshadowed by the characteristics that we sometimes attribute (northern hemisphere-wise) to each season. If I were to have had more time with this story, I definitely would have spent more time exploring the upbringing and later lives of each child, perhaps delving more into specific events that show their personality traits in action rather than having just stated them.
This story stood out as a highlight for me personally for its poetic and bittersweet quality.
Opening Line: A few seconds, that was all it took; the camera was gone, and my only chance of success with it…
This was probably the most rushed and the least favourite of my stories – just because the style comes across as a bit glib and inconsequential. But if it elicits a chuckle or two then I am happy with that.
I was reading a lot of Cracked around that time and wanted to write a slightly silly and humourous piece in the style of Soren Bowie, one of the regular columnists there. I also wanted to explore the idea of doing a whole story of someone just literally hanging from a cliff – kind of the complete opposite in terms of the focus and time frame of the previous short story.
The tone I was going for was that of an adventure serial or spy pulp – complete with silly names - Luther Dexter actually being an amalgamation of the names of two friends' babies!).
The 'boot-sock-foot-fake leg' idea bizarrely came to me late at night and was recorded as a voice memo on my iPhone in the dark – hey, it happens.
If I was ever to write another short story in this style I would like to revisit these characters again but again in some other ridiculous situation.
Opening Line: Some people might ask me the reasons I constructed a throne made entirely of bacon, but they’ll never understand…
This story was another example of trying to make sense of an initially ridiculous sounding opening sentence and giving it context through the story rather than to treat it merely as a non-sequitur opening.
Although the ideas surrounding what constitutes ‘art’ are explored here, this is not an indictment of modern art or indeed successful artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin etc… Its more just an observation of the intention behind it all and how ‘accidental success’ (also inspired by Brian from Spaced) can simply spiral out of just being in the right place at the right time.
There is also the thinly veiled allegory of making a deal with the devil; and also the returning theme of the search for meaning that everyone craves in their life. With this character, it is through his artistic expression – he wants so desperately to make a mark even though he doesn't quite know what he wants to say – he just wants to say something. It reminds me of some of the douchebaggery encountered in my first year at uni: overheard from a random student “I want to be political about something – I just don't know what to be political about…”.
Opening Line: He put the shock puppet over his hand and threw back the curtains…
Again, back to a more detached style for this one – an overview of one man’s rise and fall. The eeriness is present in this story as it taps into that age-old creepy feeling we always have about puppets (aside from the ‘uncanny valley’) of what if the puppet was controlling the man and not the other way around?
In this story it was taken to the furthest extreme in that it was the most basic kind of puppet (just a sock) – and that's also what made his ‘act’ so amazing for all those that watched it.
I personally liked the Parky bit the best – I could hear his voice and interview style when I was writing it.
I felt the ending could have been fleshed out a bit more if it was a longer story but I just felt I had to bring it full circle, which ended the story nicely.
Opening Line: Time seemed to turn into slow motion as it toppled unsteadily…
I always like the idea of playing with the reader’s expectations and this story was pretty much just totally about to do that. It's all kept purposefully vague – on the surface it’s really just a description of a sequence of different emotions and its up to the reader to infer their own meaning to what’s going on. Most people would automatically assume it's a description of a couple in a relationship splitting up (due to the title) - however this is also spelled ambiguously (no hyphen? one word?) and reading it over you could also interpret the story as a simple tale of a girl pushing a boy (perhaps even just playfully) which results in an embarrassing accident.
It was intriguing to ponder, if time slowed down and you had the time to think whilst it was all happening – what would you do? How would you feel?
So that's it for weeks 6-10. Hope you enjoyed reading them. There won’t be any more for a while, just because I want to focus on other projects, but I feel it has been a worthwhile exercise.
Until then, dear reader!
27 Sept 2012