I’ve been enjoying this trip into short story land the last couple weeks. In some cases they have a plot. In some cases they’re vignettes. In any case, it’s been fun to flex the muscles to tell a story in such a small format. Also the ideas have been pretty fast and furious. Whether they’re good ideas I don’t know. But there are quite a few of them.
Of the crop of short stories I wrote when I was much younger—and my writing showed it—in hindsight there was only one I thought was a worthy idea. It resurfaced for me at one point as a once act play. And when I decided to dive back into that format as a means of building my brand, I wanted to resurrect it. The story itself consists mostly of dialogue and interaction between two people, each an antagonist to the other. The original story was only ever told through one character’s eyes which—for what I want from that story—wasn’t going to change. But an opportunity presented itself to HULKSMASH it with something I’ve always wanted to try.
I enjoy playing around with character perceptions; the narratives in my stories are only ever told through one character’s eyes at a time. So if a scene is being told through Joe’s eyes, the only clue the reader has as to what Jack and Jill are thinking are the cues Joe picks up and how he interprets them. There’s no omniscient narrator. There’s no literary equivalent of breaking the fourth wall. But in a complex scene involving multiple main characters, the viewpoint may shift—with corresponding line breaks to indicate the narrative has changed focus—between the characters. In The Loyalty of Pawns, there are a few occasions where the same quick event is told multiple times but from different points of view. This isn’t done in a Rashomon-esque way where the events are retold differently; rather the honest perceptions of the different characters are presented as different facets through which the event is seen.
|What I'm Not Doing|
So what does this have to with that short story I mentioned? Well, what was originally one story has become two. Since the story is nothing more than two characters—who, for the purposes of this blog, we’ll call Joe and Mary—playing off each other, I thought it might be interesting to retell the same events but cast in the light of the personality of each character. Since Joe was always the viewpoint character before, I decided to write Mary’s story first. Obviously, from Mary’s own point of view at least, she has to be the sympathetic party so already it was a fun experience to twist the story around and approach it from that angle. I’ll start on Joe’s side as soon as all the editing is finished in Mary’s since the two stories have to line up in so far as dialogue and action is concerned.
The really fun step will be publishing each one and finding out whether or not people come across both stories and who they end up rooting for.