For several years now I’ve had the idea to write a story about the gruff-seeming stoic genuine old guys I’ve had the pleasure of meeting throughout my life. The first of these was my great-grandpa Jack, and the inspiration of my NANOWRIMO project “Another Winter Gone”.
The Challenge i’m finding is that I’ve always seen these people through the eyes of a much younger person and while I hope to get into their heads (And eventually grow up to be one), I find that it’s easier to see these people from the outside.
That does leave me with the tendency to lionize or Mary-Sueify my old-guys, and I am struggling to work on that.
One of the problems is that most of these guys are to the “eff it” stage of life because they’ve already done the things you’d write the story about. That leaves either a Grand Torino-style “unlikely friendship”, or an UP “developers are stealing my house, and unlikely friendship” sort of relationship, really any friendship with these guys seems to hinge on the “unlikely friendship” territory.
I find this ironic in part because as a kid, I often got along better with these men than I did with kids my own age. They were almost always doing something worth doing and were happy to let me assist (provided I didn’t talk too much. I ususally did).
I suppose another way of approaching this sort of story would be in a series of lessons I learned from each of these old codgers, possibly without a narrative thread, possibly with.
Lately, I’ve been working at stretching my skills. Particularly where outlining is concerned. My use of “Fiction Formula Plotting” by Deborah Chester and several other books on the subject is putting me off my comfort zone of bedtime stories, and short stories.
I am doing my best to think of the bedtime story version as the synopsis, or treatment form, and then outlining and fleshing it out from there. For now, re-establishing my writing habit should be good enough.
One of the aspects of writing short fiction I most enjoy is the focus. There is little temptation to clutter the stories with extra storylines, little time to tell things out of order in an attempt to be clever, and it’s easy to figure out who needs the arc and what they want. Perhaps this is something I can bring with me into longer prose.
In any event, over the next few months I hope to take us out into uncharted (by me) waters. I’ll attempt to write anew and hope you enjoy this!