On Wednesday I published Ripples of Choice on this website, my entry into week four of Luminous Creatures Press‘ Summer of Super Short Stories 2 contest. Sadly my story didn’t win but it did get some really good feedback and I do like it a lot so what better excuse than to write-up my Author’s Notes on the story which you’ll find below the break
The Original Prompt
The prompt from Luminous Press was the picture above and the instruction
Use this four word phrase in any part of your story:
“You have a choice”
I really focused in on the flower and wanted to use that as the catalyst in the debate my characters were going to have about choice. The idea of using inner voices is not a new one in my writing but unlike with Grandpa’s Trees I feel this time I was using an old technique in a new way.
First or Third Person
As I said above I really like Ripples of Choice however, I’m still not sure whether I picked the right point of view for the story. Part of me feels it should be first person – told from an I point of view – as the third person perspective gives the story a sense of that immortal writing sin, telling not showing.
The reason I picked the 3rd person point of view is that I wanted the three characters in the story all to be female and I wasn’t sure how I could get this across in first person without some really heavy-handed writing. I probably should have got ‘over myself’ and just wrote the story in first person.
The Judge’s Feedback
One of the things I like about the Summer of Super Short Stories is that the judge always gives you a little bit of feedback about your story. Week four’s judge Margaret Locke said the following about Ripples of Choice
I had to read this two times before I feel I got what was going on (I hope I’m right) – I’m imaging a suicide bombing, or at least a bombing, and the perpetrator is weighing the benefit to her if she doesn’t, versus the (alleged) benefit to all if she does. Once I got it, rereading it strengthens my understanding and appreciation of the tale each time – and what a wonderful way to describe the inner struggle, a battle of experience vs. conviction.
First thing to say is that Margaret did ‘get’ my story and her implied criticism is also fair – Ripples of Choice is not the clearest story I’ve ever written. This comes about from my fears, that I’ve touched on above, that I was doing too much telling and not enough showing so I really cut back on the explanation and perhaps I cut too much.