So, I slept in a little bit this morning; Trooper assisting by sleeping on my face, which gives you some idea of how very, very asleep I was.
Spent some parts of the morning trying to locate my set of Steve’s car keys, which I lost sometime during being ill, when I needed to move the cars for the plowman. All the pockets in the house are clean, as is the couch, my bag, Steve’s bag, the cars, the driveway, the kitchen table (my keys, which I would have used at the same time, and for the same purpose, are on the kitchen table, right where they belong), the Mencken Table, my desk, and the catch-all drawer in my office — all, all are keyless. I’m going to have to admit defeat at this point.
After I combed Trooper and Sprite, I gave the rest of the day over to totaling/closing the 2014 accounts (I still have two that need last bits of information before I can close them), since our accountant was kind enough to make sure the accounting packet reached us on Christmas Eve.
In a moment or two, I’m going to go do the dishes, and then retire to the sofa with When Gods Die to keep me company.
Before I sign off of the interwebs for the evening, though, I’m going to revisit something, because it still. . .fascinates me.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ “THE NIGHT DON’T SEEM SO LONELY”
Back a few weeks ago, when a portion of the internet went stupid because I had used a Bad Word in “The night don’t seem so lonely,” someone involved in that conversation took advantage of it to critique the story, in order to show me how (1) I could have completely avoided using Bad Words and (2) written a stronger story that they would have liked better. (Yes, this is exactly as breathtakingly rude as it sounds, but never mind that.)
The person in question would have improved the story by throwing away the first scenes in the story-as-published, opening with Moss on the beach, alluding to his adventures on the road, and his reason for being there, in very brief one-or-two sentence flashbacks, and finishing with an epiphany of destiny. Which…OK, that’s a story; it’s not the story I wanted to write, but let that go, too, because there’s an even more interesting assertion in the reason for restructuring the story in this manner, which was this:
The opening scenes, sayeth the critique-person, risk losing readers who may decide that they don’t want to read about these characters. By opening with the scene on the beach, readers *immediately know* that Moss isn’t “just some drifter” but a person they should care about.
This notion of “risking” the loss of readers fascinates me, but, then, I tend to assume that readers are reading for character, rather than plot. In the case of Moss, I began the story where I did so that the reader could get a brief taste of what his reality had been for the last while, and to maximize the punch of relief for the reader when someone, finally, takes an honest interest, while at the same time feeding the uncertainty — is this really going to work out, then? So much has gone wrong for this kid. . .
And back around I come to this idea that you will lose readers if you force them to interact with characters. What a strange, strange notion.
So — what grabs you in a story, and forces you to keep reading? Character? Dialog? Plot? Setting? Bad Words?