As much as I hate grabbing inspiration from real life when brainstorming ideas for either “The Story” or anything else in life, it’s just so tempting because I can vicariously experience what another character is going through. My right side has been hurting for over a month now. I’ve seen a doctor twice about it. He wasn’t concerned, and I doubt he will be too concerned, but how about John’s left side after “The Scene?”
Spoilers?: Minor [exploring character development]
“The Scene” is how John moves into Trishna’s family from where he lived before.
He lived in a city three-plus hours away, where he went to high school, but he chatted with Trishna via instant messenger and phone calls throughout their high school years. Close to their graduation, John gets into a fight with his foster parents, is kicked out, goes to the payphone where he would usually call Trishna, explains the situation, and asks if her family can pick him up. They agree.
Somewhere before they arrive, some local bullies catch John, then beat him up.
When they arrive, he is beaten, bloodied, and in terrible shape. They rip his clothes, shatter part of his laptop, muddy the stuffed animal that he had found and cleaned up to gift to Trishna, and did everything they could to hurt him as much as they could, including stuffing him back in the phone booth so as not to draw attention that he had been beaten, besides the pools of blood, were it not for the evening obscuring everything.
This explains why Trishna insists on holding onto his left side.
She may not, medically, know if it’s the best thing to do, but in terms of what she feels like it might be most helpful, she feels like holding him there will help. When he wakes up the next morning, she’s there, holding his good hand, her ear to his heart, trying her best to hear his heart beating. She may also not know much about how this works, and I’m not sure if John would say it like this, but it’s the thought that counts.
He would go to a doctor later that day to get looked at.
The bruises would all be normal and other than being famished, I’ve imagined that he makes a full recovery within a week or two, given rest and good nourishment. That’s the logistics side involved with everything after “The Scene,” and the more I think and iterate on it, the less it feels weird. I think that’s the thing about fiction. There’s the fiction we write that’s like the one-and-done story that’s good for writing practice.
I like those sorts of situations.
There’s something to be said for coming up with a concept, scoping out roughly how long it will take to tell that story in roughly how many hundreds or thousands of words, doing the research, then writing it. If you do it all well enough, it can take a few hours, then you’re done. You can shop it around. It’s a living, breathing story that can exist on its own now. In those situations, you don’t need to worry about perfection. It’s just a matter of telling a story.
When it’s something more involved, then it does matter about iterations.
The problem is that we tend to conflate our short stories and turn them into these epic things when they’re just little things that should mean nothing – and I don’t mean that derisively. When I write short stories now, they might lock into larger wholes, but they’re like little doodles I wanted to sketch out, rather than larger paintings I might buy acrylic, good canvas, and spend time to frame well. There’s a time for both.
It’s like in college, I was watching these digital artists draw in oekaki boards.
They’d do fancy textures with 16- or 32-colors and I realized what they were doing was replicating how acrylics looked. These might have been their college paintings. They’d never save these doodles, but I was always amazed by them. I would occasionally add just enough to feel like I contributed, but it was still a weird proposition to get myself mixed into, so I didn’t try to steal the credit for myself too often or anything like that, and besides, all those are saved on hard drives that are covered in years of dust.
When we write fiction, we should sketch, like those artists.
We can do that by writing rough drafts, by writing out essays about how we might write about them, or we might let the ideas linger in our minds for years as they build and form, as we live our lives. The good elements will percolate through our mind’s coffee machine and our exposure to good and bad media will be like the coffee filters that help prevent bad tropes from ruining what we want to be a pure distillation of ourselves. Whether that’s a gut-punch or something softer, we only have our lifetime to make an impact that can help the lives of others, so we should do what we can to make more of what we like and less of what we hate.
I’ve liked and re-liked this idea for years because it has one core idea:
Here are two characters that deeply care about each other. Trishna wants John to feel better and does whatever she can to help him feel better. Same with John, so he tries as hard as he can to recover quickly, so he can help out her family. There are no insidious thoughts between them. The narrative will show that by switching between the two of them, and maybe extending out to other characters in other side stories, but to do that, it’s less about writing one draft of one perspective and more writing multiple perspectives on the same events as they happen in real-time. That’s the scope I’m working toward in writing “The Story.”
I need to practice fiction-writing first.
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: Well, my side’s been hurting.|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Written On: 2020 July 06 [8:31pm to 9:01pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 July 06 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|