Monday, August 3, 2009

For One Night Of Love // Afterword

SHORT STORY MONDAY

Ars longa, vita brevis.

If you have been following this story, you might have been surprised how things ended last week. What's this story about? It appears to be a love story. But then, we have a murder. Or it appears as such.

Frankly, I wasn't sure where to go with this story. I moved it to this point hoping it would resolve itself. I tried to create characters and situations that were believable, and somewhat tragic.

Jeremy is a typical good guy who is somewhat of a social misfit, lives alone. A lawyer builds a big house next door and there is a potential love interest thrown into his life. The girl has been away and is now living with her parents, but there is an unspoken undercurrent that Jeremy doesn't quite know how to read.

The storyteller's craft is challenging. He wants to keep the reader turning pages while also not telling too much. What's not yet revealed here in this unfinished story is the tragic victimization of the girl by her father. The story of this family is one of secrets. The reason the girl had been sent away to a private school was because the mother did not want the father to have access to her.

It is an ugly reality that we seldom talk about or hear about, but it's too real for many. I just learned this past week, for example, that Bobby Darin was the offspring of grandfather. That is, his grandfather was his father by means of his mother. Darin was a sickly kid who overheard his doctor say to his mom that he would never live past his sixteenth. This became a driving force for him, actually, the catalyst that triggered his drive.

I had two directions I was considering for the story. In one version I planned to have Jeremy carry the body to his own barn, then to make it seem that he was the one who accidentally killed the father/lawyer. My problem with this direction was that I couldn't help but see it devolve into a courtroom drama, and I lack the knowledge or interest to produce that kind of book which real lawyer writers have all done so much more effectively. In this version, Jeremy is a Christ-figure martyr, heroically taking the rap to absolve Alyssa from paying the penalty for what she had done, even if it were in self-defense.

Another direction I had in mind was similar. Alyssa convinces Jeremy to take the body, but calls the police and says the neighbor just killed her father. She would turn out to be a cruel person and this twist would be a final nail in the coffin of Jeremy's innocence. (In theory, he has been thus far painted as a tenderhearted soul trying to make a simple living in a complicated world.)

Still another direction might be that they all conspire, Alyssa, Jeremy and her mom, to hide the body in the back forty on Jeremy's property. The bad guy is bumped off and they all get away with murder. The audience cheers, after it is a movie, of course.

I don't like seeing people get away with murder in the movies, though. It seems like certain people might take a measure of encouragement from this and we end up with life imitating art. We all know that there are way too many people in situations where just such an action would be very tempting.

This is how my story For One Night Of Love fell to the wayside. I really don't feel inclined to take it any further. There were some good sentences in the story, in my opinion. But writing a story is a little different from making pictures or paintings. Whereas it is relatively easy to make something interesting without knowing where you're going when you paint, stories really do need a direction.

Where would you have taken this story if you have been reading it?

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