Friday, August 05, 2005

Scratch fiction deconstructed

I've found a few different ways to approach scratch fiction since monkey 0 introduced the meme back in March.

Sometimes I'll be thinking about a topic for a little while, and then an image or a situation will trigger a story relating to it. This story was an example of that: Sylvana had requested a Curious George story, but it wasn't until I saw a dog trotting down the street with a toy monkey in its mouth that the story was born.

Other times, I'll sit down at the computer with no idea at all, nothing, and just start typing. The night this story came about, we had a houseguest. We were expecting a few other friends to arrive in a few minutes, but I really wanted to get something posted, and my guest was curious about the whole scratch fiction thing. So I typed. A few minutes earlier, she had been showing me a picture of a girl she had a crush on, who was involved with someone else, so I pictured that girl. I made the person with the crush into a guy, because I've been working on a male perspective lately (my novel is entirely from a girl's point of view, so I make every attempt to take a break from that), and the story just fell out from there.

The interesting thing to me is that when I write so fast like that, often without any idea where it's going, little things I've read or seen or been thinking about lately will pop up all over the place. It's like recording a dream while it's happening.

Kitten heels is a pretty good example of that. All I had in my head when I sat down was the name Pedro, someone saying the name. So that's what I opened with. I had no idea who was saying it, or why. But as I wrote, it became obvious to me that it was happening in Southern California, somewhere not far from L.A. Nichelle was the name of a friend of mine from Compton - I knew her when we were teenagers, and I was living not far from there - and she seemed to belong in the scene. The dashboard Jesus vendor clearly carried things like the angel with no hands, back when she was new. And, it seems everyone I know has a pair of kitten heels, except me, dammit.

Some readers have asked me to write sequels to some of my scratch fiction, but I appear to have a hard time with that. Often enough, the universe of the story feels hermetically sealed to me; there's nothing more than what happens on the page, that's it. But maybe it's time to exercise that muscle a bit. I'll try first with a "Kitten heels..." sequel, and we'll see where it takes us.


anne said...

See, I didn't even know what kitten heels were, and I thought didn't have any either... But apparently I do, I just don't wear them often.
And I was also thinking of - not writing sequels so much as - developing my (admittedly really really short) paragraphs. Hmmm.

Daniel Heath said...

as I threatened I would, I finally went off on the same topic.

true to form, I used far more words to do so, and said less.