Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thoughts on the Craft Expanded Redux with Story Links -- cannegardner

“Believe me, I grow daily more convinced that the atmosphere is an inexhaustible source of countless beauties. It is up to we artists to learn, hour by hour, to penetrate it…to understand about Distance, to know the Air and space, which is never still, but always vibrating and wiggling. The tiniest oscillation is, in itself, a motive for art – it is a new beauty: fluttering, creaking, disjointed, and buoyant.” -- Mario De Sa-Carneiro

That quote is from the short story titled “Wings” by Mario De Sa-Carneiro found in “The Great Shadow” collection put out by Dedalus Classics. De Sa-Carneiro’s writing is so tantalizingly beautiful, one can get lost it, and I think it mirrors Miller’s comment from last week regarding an artist’s ability to get beneath the facts. Sometimes, I find that the facts clutter my writing, especially when I am writing historical fictions. We want the facts in order to give the story a sense of authenticity, but as artists, I think we have to be mindful of the innately cumbersome and didactic qualities they posses. Yes, facts ground a story in reality, but it’s easy to overdo it at the expense of emotional depth. We must constantly ask ourselves if the facts are relevant to the story -- what do they mean to the story – and that requires the artist to dig deep beneath those facts, to not only make the facts known, but to imbue the fiction with their mysteries.

Since I began writing flash fiction, my ideas about facts have become somewhat blurred. I found myself initially struggling to find a place for them. 500 or fewer words isn't a whole lot of space to work with, and I found myself having to rethink what the facts really mean to a story and how they can be conveyed without literal inclusion. That was a hard, tall, drink of ice-cold water, but in this case, the answer lies with metaphor, or rather, what words can one use to allude to the facts without ever really presenting the actual facts to the reader. I mean, shit, the facts are the point. I don't write a story unless I have some thesis I am arguing or some statement I am making in the abstract. That's just how I write. A story is never just a story for me, and fact and conjecture are a huge part of the storytelling, for me anyway, so I had to find a way to "write in" the facts on a more subliminal level. I think I am making headway in my struggle. I have a few published this month that focus on some very chaotic moral and political hot topics. I do like to stay relevant as much as possible, but the bottom line here is, the facts themselves are often integral to the story, but they don't always have to be expressed at face value.

Here are a couple of stories I had published this month so far. Yes, I have been dabbling more in the horror genre of late. Warning: Doll Heads contains mature and disturbing/potentially offensive content Reader Discretion is advised.

Pin Head Fiesta at Dark Chaos

Doll Heads at Carnage Conservatory


DED said...

I haven't been much of a fan of flash fiction. I find the word count to be too much of a constraint as it hampers an author's ability to tell their tale properly.

I've been reading more of it though as the style is popular, particularly with zine editors who want to save money. And yes, I have found exceptions. Some authors are indeed capable of telling a whole story within the confines of flash.

Cheryl, "Doll Heads" is one of those exceptions. Great job. Considering how gruesome the contents of the bag were, it's probably best that the story wasn't any longer. ;)

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Thanks. With horror especially, less is better.

I like the experimental nature of flash. Some editors want traditional story structure and some flash editos want you to really manipulate the form and stay away from the standard construction. I tend to like the abstract so the form works well.