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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. :-)

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
stevenagy
Dec. 1st, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC)
Heh. Hopefully it will get more so as time moves on. I've come to believe it's a craft, so it's not only a matter of talent.

Sure, you've got the have a knack, but one for learning rather than writing.
(Deleted comment)
stevenagy
Dec. 1st, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC)
Which is why an addictive personality helps. ;-)

Last Sunday's edition of the AA News ran an essay by Stephen King about the writing life. Don't have the link for it there, but it was in the Washington Post as well.

Writing isn't glamorous. We live for moment where we can laugh at something, as King notes when he gets his legs under him and starts talking about the mixture of drudgery and insanity.
(Deleted comment)
juliabk
Dec. 2nd, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC)
Writing isn't glamorous, nor is it fun.

I agree that it's not glamorous, but I gotta disagree on it not being fun. I think writing is fun. It's also maddening and aggravating and hair-pullingly insane, but it's also *great* fun. There is almost *nothing* in life that's better than sitting at your keyboard giggling so hard you can hardly type or moving yourself to tears as your character goes through hell.
stevenagy
Dec. 2nd, 2006 07:01 pm (UTC)
I've got to agree with Julia, here. If it wasn't fun, we wouldn't do it. Even a masochist thinks torture is fun. I think they cheat, though, because we don't get any safe words. Just lots and lots of rejection.
juliabk
Dec. 2nd, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
You're right about that! I want my safe word!!!!! Umm... what should it be... something easy to remember, but not ordinarily associated with sexwriting. Umm... Maybe I should browse through my thesaurus for a while. Oh, yeah, baby! Gimme those Ss!
(Deleted comment)
stevenagy
Dec. 3rd, 2006 02:45 am (UTC)
Nothing wrong with your opinion. You know the pros and cons of your writing situation. For everyone it comes down to finding their own way to get words onto the page.
kezarthur
Dec. 4th, 2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
Maybe I'm strange, but I actually like the original first line better. There's an instant hook in the words 'I died twice'. The reader immediately wants to read on and find out what is going on.

the chicken paragraph doesn't really hook as well--esp if you have a scene break straight after it.

It's said that agents (and editors) give you one paragraph, if you're lucky, to hook their interest, so grab them by the throat with that first line, don't confuse them. Maybe that first line is explain later on, but if they don't read that far, then it doesn't matter.

if you ever get the chance to listen to or attend a conf where Irene Goodman and Miriam Kriss are doing their writer idol workshop, grab it. They read out actual submissions, and tell you exactly where they lost interest and why. It's very interesting--and enlightening--stuff.



stevenagy
Dec. 4th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the input.

I was explaining the changes to my wife last week and reading them aloud to here and her immediate reaction was a decided :-P. LOL

So I'm probably going to move that to later in the story.
kezarthur
Dec. 4th, 2006 08:05 pm (UTC)
reading our loud is brilliant for sorting out the wheat from the chaff :)

and you're braver than I am. There is no way known I'd read my work out loud to my hubby. He'd laugh himself silly :P
stevenagy
Dec. 4th, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC)
Melissa is understanding -- but not too understanding. She hasn't read any of my stuff, but that's not her fault. Her father (who is a nice guy and respects my "hobby") never saw much benefit to time spent reading and she always felt guilty whenever she cracked a book.

But I respect her opinion, because I bounce enough stuff off her she's got an ear for what I do. Still don't expect her to read anything, though. I think the last thing she did read was "A Paradigm of Coats" because it was short enough and set at the school where she teaches.
stevenagy
Dec. 4th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
And I didn't know you had an LJ account. Added you immediately. :-)
kezarthur
Dec. 4th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
I only got it recently--and only so I could start commenting on journals like yours. Your journal, as well as Charlie's and Sperry's, are part of my daily reading, but I never comment because I don't like being anon and I couldn't be bothered joining LJ before now (yep, I'm basically a lazy soul) :)
stevenagy
Dec. 4th, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
LOL.

You're not lazy. You're busy. This is your day job. :-)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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