Monday 30 November 2009

notes from a hack

I've revised the prison/spider story and the Bangalore ghost story and am rather happy with the new versions. My friend Ravi says that the new version of the latter may be the most effective thing I've done yet and I'm inclined to agree.

The interesting thing I find is that most of the excisions tend to be in the opening passages of a story; much of what is removed seem to be notes to myself about character, setting and theme; well-written enough that I tend to want to keep them in, but damaging to the story in many ways. I'm coming to terms with the notion of being something of a minimalist to be a better storyteller; keeping my cards close to my chest and not divulging all I know to the reader.

I've further revised the zombie story, and most of the things I removed were encapsulated exposition and worldbuilding. That story, my poor red-headed stepchild, the one with the cleft palate and the clubfoot and the incredible talent that no one has recognised yet...I still haven't found the key to making it what it should be. It's all there, the lines that don't quite converge, the thing that waits, humming, on the other side of shadow. But there's some magical ingredient that I haven't found yet.

The problem I'm having with another story I'm working on is that the protagonist, as I have portrayed him so far, fails to come into focus. He has his sorrows, but by making him the narrator, I've had to downplay all this - he's not the sort to expound on his feelings. Either I find a way to make this work, or I rewrite from third person so that his alienation is clearer.

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