Following up or digging deeper

It’s been a while since I featured any writing exercises or games on a Monday and I know they used to be popular. One which I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is BeKindRewrite’s “Voice Week” which takes place in the first week of October. The idea is to write the same story five times, each using a different voice or point of view. You can find out more, and join in, here: http://voiceweek.wordpress.com/

I’ve decided to participate, probably using the story I wrote for Friday Fictioneers last week, because I feel it lends itself to further investigation, and Voice Week feels like one way to do that.

There’s another way, however, and that’s today’s game. Short stories – and flash fiction in particular – often invite the reader to make their own interpretation and impressions about what’s going on, what’s just happened, and what happens next. Among readers, it’s pretty common to see comments along the lines of “please write the next scene,” or “you could turn this into a novel”. Of course, the key to good short fiction is to tell a whole story within the confines of the piece, but that doesn’t mean these commenters have missed the point. After all, where does a story begin and end? And what is the story without a background to shape the character’s situation and the future to shape their hopes and fears?

So here’s the latest writing game, and it’s one I plan to work on sometime when I have a week to dedicate to it: Take a short story or ideally a piece of flash fiction that fired your imagination, but left you with unanswered questions. It could be your own, or someone else’s (provided you get their permission and give proper credit to the original author). Write up to five different scenes from either before or after, which give the answers to some of the questions raised, or shed more light on the characters’ motivations, personalities or behaviour. These scenes could show what happens immediately before or after, or they could be separated by vast swathes of time and space. They could feature the same characters or other people. And they can definitely contradict each other.

For example, if I took A Mother’s Legacy as my starting point, I could write two scenes from immediately before – one showing a political catastrophe which causes the Mother to need to escape the country quickly; the other showing that the narrator is manipulating her mother to take control of the family inheritance. Then I could write one scene from years before, echoing this one but with Mother taking her daughter to the shore for some alternative purpose, perhaps a pleasure trip on her birthday. Finally, I could write 2 scenes set after the original story, one showing the narrator (this time a son) taking his mother to a literal boat which promises safety, and the other making it clear that the whole story is metaphorical and the mother is dying.

 

If you take a stab at this, whether now or in the future, I’d love to hear how it works for you, and to take a look at the results if you choose to blog about them. Feel free to post thoughts, suggestions or links below.

6 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction, Inspiration Monday, Writing

6 responses to “Following up or digging deeper

  1. I love this idea and I’m definitely going to do some of it myself. Flash fiction prompts have given me some pretty decent ideas, and this would be a great in-between step to develop them. That way the ideas don’t just die as flash fiction, but I don’t have to make the jump immediately to full-scale novel. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • do it, Brian! And if you post the results on your blog, let me know so I can come and see how you get on. I’m currently in the throes of editing, but after that, and once Voice Week is out of the way, this is definitely something I plan to try.

  2. Great idea! Because of the 100 word challenges and now this suggestion I think I must retire and devote myself to writing. I can’t believe how fired up I’ve been in the past month with renewing my writing. And now this. I’m going to give it a try and if I post the results (even if I don’t) I’ll let you know. Thanks again.

    • Good plan, Paul. That’s exactly my plan when the baby arrives. What’s that you say? Babies take up more time than jobs? Oh dear, maybe I need to re-think!
      I’m looking forward to hearing about your results though. Good luck!

  3. nice work -Ive been on the computer for over a week=sick-then the cable got messed up, I had 977 messages piled u, so obviously I wont be able to do a lot-still not well-rough week. Hope you are doing well–beebeesworld

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