Justina Luther posts new works of short fiction to her blog on a regular basis, and supplements most of those works with an interesting technique. Justina invites her readers to ask questions of the story’s lead character in the comments to her stories, and then chooses ten of those questions for an “interview” she conducts the following week. Her story from last week, Reasons, is a suspenseful study of a man struggling with his past, and her follow-up interview this week provides additional insight into his character.
I’m interested in employing a similar technique with Gray Metal Faces, the novel I’m drafting on this blog (Chapter Seven will be starting soon). I’d love to give Annie, Double-J, Coach Dan, and my other characters the opportunity to interact directly with my readers. Especially Double-J, my angy young sabre fencer who never seems satisfied with the way I describe him; he’d relish the chance to push me aside and speak directly with a reader. (He just snorted at me as he wiped his black moustache with the back of hand; “You do realize you suck at post-modern narrative, right?”)
When linking to another blog, I typically include an original work of fiction or (usually bad) poetry inspired by that link. Making an exception today, because the focus this time needs to remain on the source rather my own efforts.
Cheryl Moore writes an ongoing series of what she calls disconnected stories, assembled under the title Unbound Boxes Limping Gods. Each story is short (very lunch-break friendly) and strong enough to stand on its own, yet also has connections to a larger narrative. After finishing the most recent story, I found myself clicking through more episodes (each illustrated with a delightful pencil sketch), never attempting to proceed in a chronological fashion.
Cheryl’s blog is a fascinating experience, and is inspiring me to reconsider my strategy for drafting my novel. I occasionally pursue side projects, using characters and scenes from the main narrative in order to explore some idea or theme that interests me. Most of these side projects won’t make their way into the novel (although several were incorporated during the massive revision effort I undertook the previous two months), but they have been very productive. Yet lately these projects have been rather lengthy, taking a week or two to complete — too much effort, it seems, for what’s essentially scratch pad work.
These disconnected stories I’ve discovered have shown me a different approach — vignettes that can stand alone, yet provide connections to a lengthier work that readers can explore if they choose. Not sure I can pull off this technique with the expertise displayed in Unbound Boxes Limping Gods, but it’s an effort worth exploring.