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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On Reviews and Opinions

I solicited reviews and opinions about The Mistress and there is a thread in the comments I got back.

There was a little bit of confusion – which I wanted there because the telling of the story is also part of the story – and it did make some thirst for more details about the characters.

The Mistress will get a makeover for the anthology – expanding the characters, some of the storylines, and the settings. I admit that I edited out a lot of setting to get the action going, but it wouldn’t hurt the story to include a little color. 

The critiques, in this case, will serve to give the story a chance to soar by freeing more of its details. 

In the meantime, the first draft of one story for the coming anthology is complete.

In this story, I worked with memories of a childhood experience. It’s not the actual story, I am not the character recounting the story nor is the setting one in which I have lived. The main characters in the story have passed away and nobody’s privacy or dignity will take a hit.

The adults around me chose and insisted on keeping mum about the infidelities. I rarely thought of the infidelity and somehow what remained, years after the fact, was the lying. It was the deception that offended me most. I surveyed some folks and there were different opinions on it: some felt that silence was more a sin of omission.

And this was the idea that propelled the story.

To my own surprise, as I wrote the story another aspect of it came back to me and I added it.

I remember reading about unreliable narrators, and certainly taking a story from the mind of a child is ripe for unreliable storytelling! Memory can lie because it sometimes fills in what it forgets, but more often it lies because the mind cannot reconcile the details – too painful, too ugly, too boring…

Thankfully, this is for fiction, but it requires some truth. If there is not a single aspect of the story that approximates truth, nobody will care to read it. 
Truth in fiction is not about veracity as much as it is about relatability.

Of course, I want to believe that I do this artfully well but it may just be awfully done. The truth is that it isn’t my call but the readers. If I am fortunate, they’ll let me know one way or the other.

If you get critiqued, you should always act on it (not aggressively) and put it to good use.

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