Thursday, September 12, 2013

"How I Came to Write the Story": The White Funeral in RELOADED

The White Funeral was originally the first chapter in the book that SNUBNOSE PRESS published this year under the title HOME INVASION. It began the story of Billie et all, with her mother and grandmother in a pitched battle over control. 

Billie's mother, Kay, has to return home when her marriage falls apart. Few women were able to support themselves and care for a child in the fifties. Kay could do neither. 

When I looked at the novel as a whole,  it seemed like I was beginning too early on in the narrative. I really wanted the novel to be about Billie and her son, Charlie, rather than start back with Kay and Adele in the late fifties. Kay was the kind of character that was better in a supporting role in a novel. A little of Kay goes a long way, in other words.

But I liked a lot of things about that chapter. I liked that both woman basically ignored Billie despite struggling over control of her. I liked that both woman had moments of strength and moments of weakness. I enjoyed evoking the house of my childhood, which was on a block of row houses where going to the back of your house without going through it could lead to a long walk. Divorced women in the fifties got little respect and the issue of pedophilia was practically unknown. I doubt anyone thought twice about leaving their child alone with a man for ten minutes. How did these women that married so early become an adult, and more importantly, a mother. Not always very well.

Writers: do you always know where a novel or story should start? I find that a difficult issue. I almost always end up cutting a lot of the early stuff in a story. It's like scaffolding I can eventually remove.


Charles Gramlich said...

Most of the time I don't end up cutting. I make a start instinctively and it seems to work out. of course, I don't really know whether that means it's good or not.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I usually start out with a decent first line followed by way too much information--I am talking about short stories here--so later I can see that most of that is extraneous to the heart of the story. When you are writing in 2500-5000 words, you can't be leisurely or verbose.

David Cranmer said...

I love the story behind the story.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. I don't always know at first where a story will start. But I usually start my ideas with a pivotal event (I write crime fiction so it's usually a murder), and then go back to 'how it all began.' That's what helps me figure out where to start.

Al Tucher said...

I think I'm more of the Gore Vidal school: "I have nothing to say, but a great deal to add."