Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The Art of Writing No. 39
Here is the beginning of the novella, Through a Mirror Clear: a Gothic Love Story,I have just published on Kindle, Amazon. I wrote about its genesis two blogs ago. I thought I’d try to explain how I set about trapping the reader (hopefully!) at its onset.
It had happened with increasing regularity if you looked upon it from the vantage point of today. He was sure it had not occurred in the first thirty years. There must have been
isolated outposts of it over the next decade which he had put down to daydreams and
nothing more. But hardly any time seemed to go past now without some singular event.
They were both disturbing and exciting, a sinister mystery and a delight.
What was the most teasing aspect was that if he tried to capture them, using his mind
like a high speed camera to create a still, the images with which he should be left were
blank leaving him swimming in a void. On the contrary, if he did nothing but continue
with the unfettered run of his thoughts, they remained as a blurry background, something parallel and almost incorporeal. Almost.
The latest visitations were the most definitive yet in that in them he had a strong sense
of a female presence, if not of a reality around it.
While the story as a whole seems to engage very well I was unsure for a long time about what to do at the kick off. I wanted to put the reader immediately into a puzzle, whet his or her appetite and, as the story progresses, get him or her guessing increasingly about what is going on. On the latter score I am sure it seduces as a whodunwhat.
Given that it is a long short story, I decided that all the ingredients of the puzzle should be in the reader’s mind within the first couple of minutes of starting the story. Hence the reference to strange visitations, the high speed camera line and the enigmatic female presence. Being a horror story about taboo, with technology as part of its setting, it seemed essential to create an air of mystery and immediately precipitate the guessing game. Also, I wanted to provoke reader identification with the condition the main protagonist suffers. Most of us have experienced daydreams, dreams, nightmares and peculiarly bizarre thoughts beyond our immediate control. We tend to ignore them even while a part of us wonders at their import. This human condition of being vaguely aware that there is something beyond immediate reality was what I was trying to capture in the novella.
There were, when I last read the literature, two kinds of human learning; serial and parallel. If you are a serialist you like information in building blocks, logically connected until you have constructed the whole. If you are a parallelist then you start from the whole and gradual break it down to the component parts. Parallelists like all the information at the start. This is a novella for parallelists. Within a couple of chapters they have all the information they need. After that all is embroidery. Only the last line confirms or disconfirms their hypotheses regarding the plot.
Through a Mirror Clear: a Gothic Love Story by Jack Sanger Kindle, Amazon