Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On the Edge


Well, I’ve done it again.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I have a knack for being edgy. But I think I really outdid myself yesterday while working on my Writer’s Digest Your Story entry. The prompt: A man enters a bar. But it isn’t a bar.

In my mind, this begs the question: well, what is it? After examining the myriad possibilities, I decided to approach the bar as a metaphor. Yes, it’s a bar, but to my viewpoint character, Kurt, it’s so much more.

So where does the edge come in, you ask. My answer: with Kurt himself.

Kurt is a hard-bitten sort, the type of alcoholic with a giant chip on his shoulder, who like Don Quixote, wants to fight the world. And because Kurt is tough, so is his language. He’s angry at the world, at his past, at himself, at God. He expresses it through his language and his fists. Unfortunately, I know where that language will land me: in the pile of Your Story rejects.

Just for kicks, I did a naughty word count. Fifteen. But that’s fifteen out of 750, which means a rather large proportion of what comes out of Kurt’s mouth will raise a reader’s eyebrows. And, yes, I thought about softening the language. But that wouldn’t fit Kurt. Kurt’s in your face. He’s confrontational. He wouldn’t back away from saying something because it might offend someone, so I shouldn’t back down when I put words in his mouth. If anything, he looks for ways to be offensive.

I have another idea for the prompt, a much gentler story, more in keeping with what WD usually leans toward. Since I know poor Kurt doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance, I’ll take that one out for a whirl, see what kind of magic comes out on the page. But I suspect my heart will remain with Kurt. Kurt bleeds on the page and doesn’t apologize for it. He has a burning hole where his heart should be. I feel his pain.


Stephen said...

For the record, I love Kurt. And in spite of the language I think most people with a similar big chip on their will understand him.

It is sad, but I agree that WD's Your Story would most likely tank Kurt. However, he shouldn't have any problems finding a home somewhere else. His story is a fine piece of work, and you have much to be proud of.

Greta said...

Thanks, Stephen! I sent Kurt's story (The Ring) out last week. Let's cross our fingers I'll get good news on it.