Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Thoroughly modern me

Sometimes as I try to become a modern writer I have to laugh at myself -- sure, I'm on Facebook and Twitter and Youtube and here on Blogger but, honestly, do I really think I've mastered the technology to the point where I can actually be creative, even avant garde with it?

My writing partner, Mary E. O'Keefe, and I are putting the final touches on the six new stories that will make up Abigail Massey at McAdam Station, Volume 5, set for publication this fall. As usual, we've had a lot of fun with the project, bouncing first story ideas then story drafts off each other as we try to produce the best new tales of McAdam Railway Station that we can.

And we've come up with some really interesting new material -- a couple of new characters with fascinating back stories, some exciting and heart-warming new stories and, yes, even an attempt to be cutting edge with the final story in the book.

The first fun idea we came up with actually came from my partner. When I told her I was struggling to come up with something really unique for the sixth story in the collection, she suggested I consider writing the story from several different points of view. Abigail stories, she pointed out, are always told with a third-person limited narrator, from Abigail's point of view -- why not tell a single tale from the points of view of several characters?

She mentioned several examples from literary and film history (The Sound and the Fury, for example) to illustrate her point.

I liked the idea immediately and set to writing. And I came out with a pretty fair story -- a story in which conflict arises between Abigail and Martha, in particular, in relation to the differences in how they experience and understand several events in their lives.

I wrote the original story from Abigail's point of view, then the same story from Martha's point of view. Mary agreed to write the story once again, this time from Jenny's point of view. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Well, it does until you realize that the original Abigail story is already longer than any other Abigail story I've written (with the exception, of course, of the Christmas novella) and the Martha story is almost as long. Add in Jenny's point of view and you will have basically doubled the length of the book.

Wow. That's maybe too much for one collection of stories. And the first five stories in the collection were written specifically to lead in to the final tale so it's not as if we can just leave one out to shorten the book

In other words, unless we want to produce a book that is too big to sell for the price at which we are aiming, we need to find a solution.

We tried to cut each version of the story down a bit. It helped. But not enough.

So, trying to be ultra modern, I proposed another solution: what if we printed only the Abigail version in the book, then put a note at the end of the story that says, "To read Martha's side of the story, go to www.abigailmassey.ca and, to hear Jenny's version, visit youtube"?

You know, multiple platforms for different versions of the story. Use one medium to draw readers to the other media. Who knows, maybe Miss Pierce can tweet her response to the entire thing?

See what I mean? I'm already laughing at myself. How silly is this proposal? Especially considering the fact that a good portion of our readership are older people who might not be particularly savvy about using social media. Talk about alienating your audience!

Or... could it work?

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