December 1st, 2006


Foreshadowing Revisited

Back when I started "Sacrifices" it began with the sentence: I died twice.

I still like that as an opening. Short, simple, and open to interpretation. But as the story progresses and grows, it's mutating beyond this simple genesis. And I believe that's a good thing, because any story goes through several stages before seeing print. I've only one story that came out whole, during a marathon one-day session, my Elvis story that appeared in Electric Velocipede. Rewriting is part of the process. It mirrors the growth you see around you every day. Because, as I mentioned in a previous post, time doesn't stop. You can't relive a moment. Stories grow, like children, moving from conception and gestation to birth and childhood, before finally heading out into the world.

And while I still like the original start, I'm toying with a quick passage immediately before that sentence. Something that isn't as heavy-handed but just as good (in my opinion, of course, because I know what's happening). And there's foreshadowing. On multiple levels.

I don't believe it's bad writing. The balancing act between foreshadowing and bad writing was the driving force behind the previous post. I was concerned then that intentionally fudging tense and writing from the viewpoint of an unreliable narrator might strike an editor the wrong way. Softening the blow here might help. Of course, I'm just the writer and I don't know what an editor might or might not like. I do the best I can with what my muse gives me and hope each story finds a home.

Here's the passage:

Everyone’s heard the joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” But what’s the answer when it’s a raccoon?

One paragraph. Then a scene break and the original opening sentence. Sigh.

Sometimes I wish this was easier. Then I wake up and know it wouldn't feel worth doing if it was. Because if it was easy, then a question about the merits of opening a story with a variation on the chicken-crossing-the-road joke or a narrator saying I died twice would drive me crazy. Heck, it might even drive me back to poker or buying books I don't have time to read, which was the point of the Addiction post. :-)