Genesis of a Story: Mar 18, 2012

I’ve decided to try something different, today. Instead of waiting until my next story is finished before posting it, I’d like to show you how it happens by exposing the creative process as I go through it. The last new story that I posted, “Unspoken“,  was inspired by events described by Rolling, one of my readers in her own blog. In my story, Rahila encounters discrimination on the job for being single and over forty, which costs first her job, and then her apartment. And then she encounters it again at a shelter for homeless women. Since that’s the back-story, you might want to go read it first before reading the rest of this post.

In a subsequent post, Rolling mused about the possibility that a network of men might step forward to vouch for such women so that they would not be subject to such treatment. It was an intriguing idea, so I made a note to myself about it, and left the idea to stew. A few days ago, I returned to my notes, and started to flesh out the idea, in preparation to turn “Unspoken” into the start of yet another series. (I’ve done that before. I’ve listed them in the category pages that are listed on my About the Stories page.) Here, then are my notes so far…

We start off assuming that such a support structure exists, and open on a very public accusation of impropriety launched against members of the organization by someone like Andrew Breitbart, as if there was a secret agenda to lure the women into some trap. Rahila could then stir up the women being helped to rise up as one to take action to protect their protectors.

Who is our heavy, and what has he done previously? He’d have developed credibility through manipulation of the media, so he would have ample defenders. Besides, there’s already a societal prejudice against single women in this culture, so it’s uphill all the way for them.
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Starting with what sparks the story, we’d be with our network member when he sees or hears the accusation being launched. In order for it to be necessary for the women to rise up, the men in the network would have had to attempt to reciprocate, but failed to resolve the problem. Their response could even make it worse for the women. How might this have gone down?

The Accusation: members of this so-called support network for loose women have actually organized to lure the women into a trap. Once a member has played white knight for a woman, she feels obligated to him, and he takes advantage of the women sexually. Of course you’ll never get any of them to admit to this. It’s Stockholm Syndrome, pure and simple, with the women tricked into defending their captors. (Does this cause some of the women to question the sincerity of the men that have helped them?)

The Response: After a flurry of conferences, a spokesman for the network says that the accusation is groundless. He reiterates the mission of the group, and professes to high standards, but is not able to de-fuse the charge.

The Riposte: How can you be so sure? We have an army of watchers out there. If any of you makes a false move, we’ll be there to document it and show the world. This puts the fright to the network, because they’ve suddenly been put at far more risk, than some had been willing to deal with. Some members of the network might bail, while others dig in harder.

The Flack: (This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, and drives the women, or at least the first of them, to act. It’s the moment of drama where it all comes to a head.) Until now, the indignities have been polite, because there’s this a measure of reluctance among those discriminating against the women to do so openly, so they couch it behind a facade. But they have no such compunctions about acting against another man. The man who had helped our focus character is attacked physically and injured.
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Staging: At what point do we dip into the action? We want to give the reader some context at the start, so the attack could happen while a member of the network is in the midst of smoothing the way for the woman he’s helping. (What was she doing? Arranging living quarters?) Our antagonist break into the discussion, shows doctored pictures of the woman depicting her as a slut, and of the man purporting that he’s lured other women into this trap and then raped them (or something).

Check back for the next stage in the development of the story. Of course, if you can’t wait that long, just hang around and read the hundred or so stories that I’ve already posted here.

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