Monday, 11 July 2011

First draft

As mentioned in my previous post, during the coming weeks I will develop my writing style by creating a short story and exploring various story-telling techniques. I welcome your comments on both the process and the story itself. While I plan on submitting the finalised draft for publication, I’ll be aiming for a student magazine and, if it gets published, will credit this blog’s community. So, please get involved. I’d love to know what you think.

First things first – the story. If I don’t have an idea, I ask myself what the story is going to be about. i.e. what do I feel like writing? I get a lot of positive feedback on my speculative fiction stories, so I’ll stick to one of those.

All stories need a point of view character. For a little fun, my main character will be an alien disguised as a human. I’ll make it a male and his name will be Martin.

When developing a story I tend to go for the most dramatic situation I can think of. After a car accident, Martin regains consciousness about to be scanned by an MRI machine that will reveal his true origin. Something needs to stop him from moving or objecting so I’ll strap him to the gurney and shove a tube down his throat. I like that. I’m hoping his being restrained will create some sympathy for Martin, as he really is a nice guy… err, alien.

The story is starting to take shape in my mind. At this point, I usually give some thought to secondary characters to give the story depth and perspective. Perhaps an unnamed group of faceless doctors and nurses to represent society, and a concerned wife. A human wife that doesn’t know his secret – the plot thickens!

I find writing the first draft in longhand helps to get the story down in a quick but controlled manner, while allowing me to switch off my analytical mind and free my creativity. I haven’t mastered getting into this frame of mind but it has become easier with practice. I promise to share my techniques, for now the story is screaming to be told…

Martin regained consciousness while entering the MRI machine, a dull feeling his body was broken in many places by the car accident. His wife peered through the observation window, oblivious to the chaos about to ensue. When he tried to voice an objection, a tube down his throat allowed only a gurgle. Straining against the restraints only earned him an injection of sedatives. As his vision faded, he realised he could do nothing to prevent the examination from exposing his unearthly origin.

Time to digitise the story. I open my new story template, save the file as Draft 0 and type it out with minimal changes. As usual, I’m not entirely happy with the wording and can see many ways to improve it. I remind myself it’s only a rough draft and run it through the spellchecker. While doing so, a working title springs to mind: For Better or Worse.

I rename the file to FBOW-0, and save it to a new folder named FBOW and do my best to not open them for a few days.



Michelle Weir said...

Loving it Emanuel. Please keep me posted on more. Cant wait to read your first novel!

Emanuel Cachia said...

Thanks a bunch Michelle!

The novel is a fair way away, but it is getting there, albiet slowly :)


Lucia Nardo said...

I’ve been enjoying your Sci-Fi since Point Cook days. When I read this I figured he was about to get sprung! In that short para we discover a lot. His wife evidently has no idea. How’s he going to get out of this one? I do want to know what happens next

Anonymous said...

When you edit, remove cliches and hackneyed phrases like "oblivious to the chaos about to ensue" and "voice an objection" :)

Interesting so far, but that first sentence doesn't quite make sense. Did you miss out the word 'with'? as in "..with a dull feeling that his body..." ? Good luck

Emanuel Cachia said...

Thanks Lucia.

Since completing the course at Point Cook, I've written a dozen or so short stories. Whenever I let my imagination take me where it wants to go I seem to end up in sci-fi settings more often then not. It's likely all the Star Wars and Isaac Asimov I read as a teenager :)

This story certainly has some strong hooks that I can expand on if it goes beyond micro-fiction.

I like that Martin's wife doesn't know his big secret, but feel the POV in that sentence needs to be reworked come next week.


Emanuel Cachia said...

Thanks for your comments Stinginthetail.

I initially liked the wording of “oblivious to the chaos about to ensue” and “voice an objection”, but they sounded awkward when I was transferring them from paper to my computer. It took a lot of effort to post the story full of errors :)

As for “Martin regained consciousness while entering the MRI machine, a dull feeling his body was broken in many places by the car accident”, I think adding “with” where you have suggested makes the sentence too long. Although, I might drop “by the car accident”…

When I rework the story, I’ll certainly look at these passages, and a few others. I might post a few versions to see which one you most enjoy.