09 May 2006

The six lines

Okay, I like the concept above so of course I’m going to work on the main things first. No, not the plot—that will come later. What are the six key statements that I want to use that will be the events he hangs his story around? Here’s my first cut at them.

  1. I was fifty-five when I decided I wanted to be an acrobat.

  2. I learned the meaning of life the day after my fortieth birthday.

  3. My midlife crisis started the day I realized that 33 was halfway through my life expectancy.

  4. I made my first mortgage payment when I was 26 and my last one two months later.

  5. When I was sixteen I knew I would never love another girl like I loved Paula.

  6. My third year in kindergarten I discovered the alphabet was more than a string of meaningless symbols.

These may change when I actually have a story to go with them, but it is a start. At this rate I figure I’ll have the entire structure of the story finished before I figure out what the plot is. And, in case you were wondering, these have very little to do with my actual life story. So don’t go reading any autobiographical hoohaa into it. It’s fiction, remember?


Wayzgoose said...

From Jason, with my response:

Blogger won't let me post my comments (server keeps timing out) so here they are:
Cool "six key statements" concept. The statements themselves are quite intriguing too. However, taken in total they make me thing that for sure this guy is an alcoholic. Not sure why, but they do. Maybe it's that the statements have a certain fatalistic ennui about them that make me think the guy hasn't got much going for him. That his life doesn't have much in the way of prospects. That, combined with the gumshoe notion, builds a fairly strong mental image for the guy right out of the chute.
I also like reading them in reverse-chronological order as you've laid them out. Maybe you're already thinking along these lines, but it would be neat if the plot progresses forwards in time, but our insight into the MC progresses backwards. So as the plot goes along, you can have events take place which cause the MC to remember those six things, from increasingly earlier times in his life, in some way which informs his actions or at least lets us understand why he's doing/thinking the things he is. Whatever the trigger events are, though, they should in some natural way lead back to those memories or else it will all feel sort of forced.
I also think that somewhere in the phrases "the six lines" and "six key statements" is a title, lurking, waiting to be discovered.

From Nathan:
Thanks. You’ve read correctly regarding the kind of fatalistic ennui, although I’m not sure that he’s an alcoholic. I want to be tongue-in-cheek about it, but not necessarily cliché. And, the order of the statements is for exactly the reason you mentioned. I see that in each of the six sections of the story, he is led further back in his life while the plot of the story is progressing forward. Ultimately, something about the earliest memory triggers his solution to the problem. I’m thinking also that the opening chapter establishes the “right now” of the story, but that by the second chapter he’s relating how he got involved in this to start with. Then the subsequent sections move him toward the situation that he opens the story with, ultimately returning to the “right now” in the last section. I’ve got a lot more worked out about the structure of the story than I do about the actual storyline itself, though I’m about to post some possible titles that might help to inform that part.

Thnx for the comments.