So one of my readers wanted to have a place to discuss his understanding and get my response. I think that’s a great idea, so I’ve moved his comments over here in case anyone else wants to join in. I am not one of those people who believes any explanation on my part ruins the story, but I also value letting other people enjoy their own experience of the story as it is, and the value of letting someone figure it out.
So I’m going to split the difference. I will put my own thoughts in this forum as we go, but I will not promise to answer everything. I will try to be helpful, but I also want you to know that I value your experience with the story even if it’s not what I intended. Neither my intent, nor your experience are irrelevant to this discussion.
Anyway, we’ll start off with Joshuas comments and I’m going to give a day or two for your responses before I interject any of my own. I’m very eager to hear of your thoughts, possibly even more than you are to hear of mine, so I hope that some of you do join in.
So, after reading the story again, and having some time to roll some of the ideas it sparked in my mind, I have some questions. I think one of the reasons you would write a story like this is to generate a discussion. If I’m wrong and the purpose of the story is that it is just a story and you want to keep it simple I can get that. If on the other hand there are themes that you wove into the text hoping to capture some more complex truths and are willing to share some of that with the audiance (me), I would appreciate the chance to learn. My literary skills are rough, but I love to read and discuss and think and learn….
Here are a few thoughts I had:
How did you plan the story? I mean, did you plan it out ahead of the daily posts or did you make it up as you went?
Here are some themes or morals or lessons I read into your story:
Stop and smell the paint (roses).
Everyday people can be superheroes.
Selfishness hurts us and others.
Which morals did you have in mind when writing each day?
What does the bus stop represent?
These are just some thoughts to start. Thank you for the feedback.
So, Josh, here’s some brief thoughts on your questions.
First, the genesis of the story was actually from an idea I had for the “Duke City Shootout,” a competition I occasionally enter for fun. (http://www.dukecityshootout.org/) But which sadly is not happening this year. I never actually finished or entered this script so I thought i might be fun and short enough to do here as a serial project.
Anyway, the basic idea of the two of them meeting at the bus stop, the essential nature and character of each of them as well each of their basic crisis or trials were planned from the beginning. The idea of it being essentially a story about the man’s redemption on some level was also fixed from the beginning. For what it’s worth the title was the first thing to come and the story followed.
However, from these parameters, certain elements of the story wrote itself. I did not know, for example, when I started that the boy would get so angry with the man, or that the man would think the boy had been abducted, but because of 1) the nature of the serial format and 2) the characters of the story and 3) the flow developed, it just seemed to be obvious when we got there. ON the other hand there were lots of things I know which I did not end up revealing in the story. I know the names of all the characters in the background (such as mom and dad and wife and so forth). Most of these I won’t tell you, because if they didn’t come out in the story it’s probably better to let them be open to interpretation. I will tell you for no good reason but as a point of interest that Uncle Bruce is a policeman and the “batmobile” is an unmarked police car.
So the short answer to your question is that certain elements were completely planned, including where we would end up, but other things happened as we went along. In all respects I was always at least one episode ahead of the one you were reading, so that when I posted one I knew almost entirely what was to come the next day. This definitely helped with planning or foreshadowing…
The themes you list were all definitely intentional parts of the story. I don’t want to say more about that at this time but you certainly are on the same page I am so to speak. I would say that the story is really about the man writing, and less about the boy. The important lessons, morals and themes are all from his persepctive, as it were, even when not driven by him at times.
Without saying too much more at this point, I will also say that the bus stop, as you surmise, is a very intentional metaphor and not a very complicated one at that. It does though form a central idea in the entire story.
So, Josh (or anyone else) bounce from this and share more of your thoughts. Be bold and speculate some more. I promise even if I disagree, I won’t disrespect your thoughts.
After reading your response I have been able to wrap my brain around the methods that go with the writing a lot better. I like to understand the beginning, the middle and the end and then be able to stand back and look at the project (story, job, art, adventure, you-name-it) as a whole. Personal quirk I suppose. Anyway, thank you for some of the history and extra details. They add a lot for me.
Some of the details that you chose not to reveal in the story… did you leave them out because they could be distracting, because that is your writing style, because of the media type, or for other reasons? I ask because as soon as I read that little detail about batman and the batmobile above it was like looking through a lense and everything snapped into focus. Is there a way to see things like this without needing them to be written? I tend to read very literally and exactly.
Thank you for taking your time to discuss some of this extra stuff. I hope it isn’t pulling you away from Otis or other grander things.
Let me clarify. I always know a lot more about a story than you would ever want to write down, so it’s not really a matter of choosing what to leave out as choosing what to put in. As I write I tend to ask myself questions I’m interested in: Why are his parents divorced, why is it so hard for them to see each other, why are his clothes dirty, where did the grafitti on the bus stop come from, where does the man work, why did he get passed over for promotion, why did he marry his wife, why did she marry him… However, it’s never my plan to put all these points in. I think it helps me write more convincingly and it allows the characters to develop enough on their own that it becomes easier to see how they would react in given circumstances I put them in. I like it best when that happens. When they sort of act for themselves. Sort of, I’m not being crazy about it, but I hope you can see how this might work. If I were to put all this information in, it would be both too long and uninteresting.
As for Bruce being a policeman, I mentioned it because I had intended all along to put that in, but then when the time came it just seemed to forced to mention it. I’m not sure why. Can’t really explain that. It seems easy enough, just describe the outfit he’s in…I think it seemed distracting from the main point at the time. I suppose I’m still unsure about that decision which is probably why I mentioned it here:-) Given your reaction, perhaps it was more relevant than I thought. As I think about it, perhaps it’s because it might potentially weakens the idea you mentioned, that everyday people can be superheroes. It’s easier to see Policeman as heroes then computer chip manufacturers (bus stop man’s job). Probably there was no way to see the Bruce as being a policeman without me at least hinting at it, which I didn’t quite do. Sometimes clues are left more subtly than exactly, so learn to surf for those, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave any those here (not intentionally although knowing does cause it to come out sometimes.)
I’m enjoying it, nothing grander for me.
The idea of seeing the whole story while only writing the important parts makes a lot of sense. It gives me a whole new perspective that I didn’t know about before. I will keep this in mind as I read. I generally get caught in a story and dragged into it with all my attention on the details in front of me. I dont usually review what I have read or think about much of the back ground until after I walk away from the text (unless something confuses me).