Should a story run from the beginning to the end? What I mean is should is run chronologically or start in the middle or even the end?
Take ‘Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold, this starts with the reader knowing that she will die. So the rest of the story is about how she got there. I have written a short story that starts with a death and then the narrator tells the story of how he was murdered. It’s a basic adult fairy-tale of ‘do as you would be done by’, and I thought it was obvious. But others don’t. You see the story is told in first person and that person is cold and calculating so the language is distant. I hadn’t realised that it was a ‘tell’ not ‘show’ story and till it was pointed out. Except I have used the ‘tell’ aspects of the language to underline the ‘show’ parts.
I would count to school, to the classroom, to my desk, to the blackboard; it was a compulsion.
This is one of those times. I don’t need “it is a compulsion” but my character would say it, because he is sort of proud that he has a compulsion. He sees it as a way of defining his own character. So I think it is necessary, but am I just being too precious.
The other problem is where I start the story. It starts with him saying he is dead.
Actually I am sitting in a resin urn on my mother’s bottom shelf in her cupboard, just below her favourite jumper and next to her best knickers.
So the reader knows immediately that the character has no future. This story is all about the past. It is a tale of consequences. The problem I have is that I’m not certain I have shown it.
I actually like the story but I am aware that I am sticking my neck out by using it for a competition but I think it is good. Should I take the advise and rewrite so that it starts with the murder and then flashbacks to tell the story? Possibly and maybe I ought to make the whole story more up-close-and-personal, but to do that I will have to change the character, and I’m not sure it would work with a more direct protagonist.
I am in two minds – change it / don’t change it. I think I’ll have to sleep on it and then decide.