Saturday, September 26, 2009

Looking at the parts of Convergence : dissecting a short story

Now that it is finished, it is time to separate the pieces, and take a look inside.

First, what are the parts of a story?

The most basic are opening, middle, and ending.

The opening should have a hook to make the reader want more. Let the reader know enough about the central character to make the person seem real and interesting. The writer should also give the reader a glimpse of what upsets or intrigues that character into action. Where all of this takes place helps establish an anchor point. When it happens, may or may not be relevant. Lastly, the why of it all, the conflict, leads directly into the plot.

In Convergence, I used Stephanie's curiosity and her husband's secretive nature. This primary conflict made her act in an unusual way.

After six paragraphs, the reader glimpsed both personalities and discovered the dilemma their intersection created. The reader knew who Stephanie was, where she was, what upset her (again the conflict) and even got a glimpse of how she wanted to resolve the issue: (Across the middle of the page in unfamiliar masculine handwriting, she read: Friday, 8:00am rear parking lot 1111, 63rd Street.).

The middle. The story should build steadily leading the reader to the pivotal point where action carried the protagonist, Stephanie to make one decision that sent the story over the edge to conclusion.

In Convergence that point was: She threw out her hands, but her head slammed into the pavement and she collapsed, blacked out.

I used the middle as a turning point. The pace now must build more to reach conclusion.

The ending: First and perhaps most important, the protagonist should change. She cannot be the same person she was in the first sentence. The theme of Convergence is: sometimes getting involved in an event you would normally avoid may land you in a place or situation you were meant to be in. Had she not decided to investigate what her husband did, Stephanie would not have become the new Dragon Master, which became her destiny.

The ending should tie together all of the component parts, and resolve or answer any questions readers had as they went through the story.

The first clue that something extraordinary would happen was the blood on the paper. Blood usually dries quickly on paper since paper acts like a sponge. This blood was still tacky. The second was: an older brick three story that seemed dwarfed by its modern ten-story plus surroundings.

What was it? A portal, but it blended into the city. Any city you visit will always have several buildings that seem leftover from previous centuries, like churches, or residences. These are fine locations for strange events.

Then there were the cobblestone alley, and the bricked up windows and finally a fenced in courtyard. Not a backyard, a courtyard, and in the center was a depression that held a pool of blood, not dried blood.

When Stephanie confronted the guardian of the portal, he was a dirty gruff man who frightened her, threatened her, and treated her as she expected when caught trespassing.

The guardian needed to be rough to keep out the unwanted. I hid his identity to keep from spoiling the surprise once Stephanie awoke. Although, I did hope the reader would understand his purpose after her location became clear.

Throughout the story, I tried to use dialogue to create tension and conflict, and finally resolution. A goal I did not meet was 40% dialogue, which is a good average, or minimum amount of a story.

For what I desired to do with the story, I would have needed several more characters to achieve 40%, which I did not want. Sometimes too many characters confuse, and convolute the plot. I felt this story was one of them.

What was the plot?

The plot for Convergence: Stephanie spies hotel stationary in a drawer that is usually closed. She cannot resist temptation and examines the paper, discovers a tacky smear of blood, which she at first believes is lipstick.

After reading the address written on the paper, she worries that her husband may be in trouble and decides to investigate.

When she arrives at the address, she walks into a situation that changes everything she believes and alters her life.

A brief confrontation with a man who seems upset by her attempt to enter his property ends with her knocked out.

When she awakens, Stephanie learns she lies in a wooden ship's hold. She believes she is alone, sees distant lights, but when she examines the lights, she learns she is in a place she thinks could not be on earth.

A stranger who seems to appear magically with a candle that emits enough light to illuminate an area around him only then confronts her.

The confrontation ends when he pierces her hand with seven special teeth, and transfers his essence to her making her the new Dragon Master.

I think that is everything, conflict, action, dialogue, imagery, and resolution.

Questions? Did I leave something out? God, I hope not.

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