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First Story

Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:21 am UTC
by AaronLC
I have recently started writing a story that deals with the issue of death. I will give you a quick run through of the plot so you can give me some feedback if you like.

The story starts out with the main character waking up on the floor of a small room. You could probably relate it to that of a small hotel room but without all the furniture. He sits up and sees a bed in front of him, and a window on the wall to the right. He has no memories up to the point when he woke up. He looks out the window and it's a very pleasant day. Everything seems to be perfect. He walks to the door so that he may go for a walk and enjoy the weather, but the door will not open. He tries to find a way to unlock it but there is no lock. He looks through the peephole that is placed in the center of the door and he sees a beautiful young woman walking down the hall. She enters the room adjacent to his. He falls into a deep sleep but wakes up to the sound of an ambulance. Later on he finds out that she died from an overdose of cocaine by overhearing two detectives in the girl's room. He felt a strange type of love for this girl, even though he had never met her. He is depressed by the thought of her death. He will eventually find himself in the room that the girl lived in, but it is always night and is always cold. The room that he first awoke in is a metaphor for heaven, and the room that the girl lived in is a metaphor for hell. You will find out at the end of the book that he actually killed himself in the hotel room. I figure a lot of religious fanatics will cringe at the thought of a person committing suicide and then going to heaven. This is just a fictional story. It's not meant to make any sense of religion. I'm sure there are a lot of stories already out there similar to this, but I felt that if I put a character into this position it would make for an interesting read.

This is my first attempt at writing a story so any suggestions would be helpful. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Re: First Story

Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:31 pm UTC
by Mzyxptlk
This sounds almost exactly like the setup of Silent Hill 4. (Which is no reason not to write it, obviously.)

Re: First Story

Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:35 pm UTC
by mypsychoticself
I can't give you much help (I've never finished anything I've started), but if you go to nanowrimo.org, the forums there have some cool stuff.

Re: First Story

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 12:18 am UTC
by tsevenhuysen
Seems like an interesting concept.

To really get some impact out of it, though, you should write more extremes into it. If heaven is just an empty place with a sunny window, and hell is "a little chilly", then you may be able to get some symbolism out of it, but you won't get much emotional impact. Invest some real descriptive language into your writing. While you don't want to go overboard and sound ideological about it, you should try to make it so that people who read the descriptions of the two rooms really feel the incredible difference between them.

Hope this helps! Good luck with the writing; show us the result when you're done with it!

Re: First Story

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 5:52 am UTC
by Nath
First of all, good luck! You have an idea, and that's one of the tricky bits.

My first suggestion would be not to start out trying to write the greatest story in the universe, with layer upon layer of meaning and symbolism. The first step is to learn to write stuff that people (well, some people; maybe just you) would want to read. If you can put one word in front of the other in a way that makes people want to read on, then you're much of the way there, even if your stories are just empty entertainment. Once you've got the mechanics of writing down, you can worry about making it all profound and important, if that's what you want to do. The thing is, a lot of people have deep ideas; the hard part is conveying them in a way people get them. And that's why I think the shallow parts of storytelling are harder to learn than the deep parts.

My second suggestion is to be merciless about throwing things away: ideas, characters, plot elements. I probably take this to an extreme; I let ideas stew for so long that I usually find all the reasons the story wouldn't work. But still; a really good one-page story is worth more than a shelf of decent ten-page stories. I guess a good balance would be to write a lot and then trim, rather than trim in my head and never write.

My third suggestion is not to pay two much attention to the first two suggestions. Your objectives might be different from mine, and I'm certainly no expert at this anyway. Good luck again!

Re: First Story

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:35 am UTC
by smw543
As this was your first post and you haven't made any posts since, I won't give a detailed critique (in case you never come back.) I will, however, offer a few tips. The first is just to reiterate what Nath said; learn to crawl before you can walk. And it may take a lot of walking before you're ready to try running.

The second tip, which is a bit more pertinent, is to be careful with the whole allegory angle you're working. If the reader can't figure it out through interpretation and you have to actually spell it out, the reader won't think it's clever, he'll think you tried to shoehorn in some extra crap just to make the story seem more literary (I've seen far too many forced allusions, metaphors, etc. in my experience doing writers' workshops. Just the other day I read a piece called "The Butterfly Effect": the first page was just a description of the concept, followed by a story that contained no minor events or decisions and no major outcomes; the author just thought that referencing the concept would lend some merit to the story.)

If you're going for more of a twist ending than an allegory, see tip one. Twist endings can be very satisfying for both the author and the reader, but they take a hell of a lot of work to pull off smoothly. You can't pull it out of nowhere, or it will look forced and the reader will just walk away disappointed. But you can't make it too obvious, or there's no twist (not that there's anything wrong with not having a twist.) Movies make it look easy, because when the twist is revealed, they always have a montage of revelation where they show a bunch of clips of things that seemed meaningless when you first saw them, but are suddenly seen to be hidden clues to the surprise. There isn't really an equivalent literary device, or any routine way to setup a twist in the medium of the written word.