Monday Musings: Facing the elephant.

When I started working on concepts for what would become “The Bloodletting” and other associated stories, I didn’t know that I would be tackling some very dark issues. Indeed, the original ideas were far different. Things were more in the purely science fiction genre. Astral Audio Experience Episode 5 was what I had in mind to a degree. Some of those ideas are still in the mix but I’m not even close to getting to that point. I’m going to lay out my thought process and give some background.

It all started when I asked the question, “How did we get here?” I knew that by the time certain events in the “present” were to happen, we would have had to reach a turning point. But where did it all begin? Why were these choices being made? What got the proverbial ball rolling?

I eventually settled on one story; a single thread that would unravel. It would start with an eleven-year-old girl, her being taken by a band of warriors loyal to a group that ruled territories. She would grow to hate this group, hate her father for her perceived inaction on his part, eventually make decisions which would put the pieces on the board for what would happen in the present. I felt like I was onto something.

I knew that Dawn’s story was needing an extra push. Her simply being kidnapped wasn’t going to be enough incentive for her to become a hardened individual. I had a moment where I was unsure if I wanted to take the step. There was an option on the table and said option wasn’t my usual form of storytelling. Thus, the question was asked, “What if she was raped the night she was taken?” I didn’t like this train of thought. It was unsettling. However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. She was being taken from a world that was familiar, safe, full of promise. She was being forced into a life where she wasn’t in control. What was more, she was going to struggle to find a way out and take charge of her life. Rape was symbolic of this radical shift. It meant she was going to be changed mentally, emotionally; the sure footing was going to be removed from her world.

I’ve written the scene out and a few people have seen it. I didn’t give a lot of detail. Instead, I approached it from her point of view; vague and confusing. This wasn’t something I wanted to glorify. There’s a harsh intrusion on what was peaceful. I did my best to capture that feeling while being sensitive to my potential audience.

For the longest time, I’ve had the idea of skipping ahead several years after Dawn’s capture and reintroducing her as a woman who is deeply flawed. Picture a doll broken and glued back together. It looks similar but not quite. This felt safe to me. I could explore some of the damage in flashbacks and focus on her present and future. However, I felt like I was ignoring the elephant in the room. People wouldn’t connect with her as much as I wanted them to because they wouldn’t see her struggles growing into adulthood.

There are two solutions I see to this problem. First one is to add chapters detailing Dawn’s struggles which would add depth; however, it would be more time before the introduction of other important characters. The eleven year period is an interesting slate but may be best served exploring in a different way out of the scope of the novel. The other option I see is short stories; either written from her perspective or the perspective of people she encounters. The question I have is, are there any authors who would want to play in the sandbox?

Dawn’s story is one I am looking forward to telling. She is a living, breathing example of, “Everything you do affects somebody.” This theme hits home for me in a big way. Through Dawn, I’m wanting to provide several teachable moments.

As usual, your feedback on how to face the elephant is highly encouraged. Sound off in the comments with your questions and suggestions. If my responses would contain spoilers, I’ll email you. Thanks for reading.

CC BY-ND 4.0 Monday Musings: Facing the elephant. by Allen Sale is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.