Writing: slow shift

I have been sitting on around 200.000 words produced in the last 6 months in 3 long stories and 6 short stories averaging around 8 000 words each. The reason why you have not seen anything yet, except from the occasional posts is that I am writing and editing them in clusters. I produce, have them read and reviewed by people I know, produce more as that happens, rework what I get back, write more.

Shift 1: from telling to showing

There is a slow shift in my work. From explicit messaging and info-dumps I have slowly been learning how to show these things, instead of telling about them.

You can talk about injustice or inequality, but it has proven to be much more effective (oh big surprise) to show it and show it more, to the point where it now starts to hit emotional levels I did not hit in my stories before.

Shift 2: using less words to make more impact

Some stories I wrote contained pages and pages of info-dump. Or hundreds of words to put down one single concept.

I now deliberately edit these lumps back to parts of roughly 60 words, to a maximum of 100 words. Anything that does not communicate clearly or is secondary information is ruthlessly deleted.

Shift 3: towards studies on power, politics and choice

As I start to understand more and more what I care about, my stories are becoming more and more political. That politics revolves mostly around the systems of oppression and inequality: in attempts to dissect and expose several aspects of these topics.

At this point in time that involves: sexism, racism, classism, power and power play. What I am investigating now is the ambivilence of the roles of any and all players in the game I play within my stories. Within conflict, all parties are wrong. All have motives and motivations with dirty spots and stains. In some cases, like with “Sunrise” this dirt is explicit as my main character has very selfish motives, is explicit in het choices and is willing and able to sacrifice others to reach her goals. In stories like the most recent: “A girl and a horse” this is more or less hidden in plain sight in the things that happen in the background.

What is mostly interesting for me now is to see how the current systems of power we take for granted can be dissected and turned around to expose more dirty mechanics underneath. Like the “normalcy” of gender and gender-roles or the “normalcy” of “justifyable” violence.

Each of these stories is like a work of practice in which I get closer to that point where I can tell everything in three simple strokes of the brush.

Shift 4: becoming more aware

Following several people online I have become more aware of several aspects of identity, erasure and discrimination I overlooked until then.

This includes the mechanics to silence those groups including ways to ridicule and erase their voice.

My “Inclusive writing” series is one aspect to ground that for myself.

 

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