|Posted on December 15, 2016 at 1:10 AM|
In less than one month and a total of two weeks' worth of work, I have already written two short stories with mental health themes. To continue my tradition of challenge since I first started writing theater scripts three years ago, with this short story I had two surprises to reveal. This was the first time I have ever written a female lead character and the first time I had ever written a story using the noir style. While it was not without fair difficulties, I really liked the way this story turned out.
It all started about three years ago when I was inspired by the true story of a young woman who went through a similar ordeal as in this story. Her real life journey to face her grief was so uplifting; I hoped someday to write a story showcasing the same events with the intention to inspire many other people. The sheer value of the truth behind this inspirational fiction has the potential to be so compelling, especially for women of all ages, that I clung to this story idea ever since. Though, it is obvious this wasn't my first mental health themed story written since that trend began with "Lost & Found"© last month.
Once I started to blog again in mid-October, one thing simply led to another. After I hadn't made any progress in almost two years with my theater script writing, all it would have taken was the right timing, the right push, to get me to resume writing stories. With the confidence as well as positive enthusiasm I gained from writing "Lost & Found"©, this story was not going to be far behind. But the genesis for the style actually is what sparked the renewed interest to write it. That, I owe to acclaimed director Christopher Nolan.
In Nolan's film, "Memento", which I had watched as part of a Penn State Altoona Integrative Arts class back in 2001-02, I was exposed to the concept of the noir style in movie making at an impressionable time of my life. Noir was unique, challenging, creative, and as I realized with "To Have Loved & Lost"©, this style also afforded two endings instead of one. Of course the old adage two are better than one applies. Being able to write two endings that stick with a reader is better for everyone. One type of noir style starts chronologically at the end of what takes place, and each scene progresses back to what happened at the beginning. However, if I had written the story from beginning to end in a typical fashion I risked ending on a weaker point.
The secondary point of this story was that the character Diana had succeeded in coping with her grief for her fiancé Tom. When you think about what ultimately happened, this successful recovery can easily be taken for granted and therefore was weaker to finish with. Given that I am writing with more emphasis on mental health, illness, and wellness, I tried to think of a different way to write. So, the thought occurred to me, randomly as usual at 5 AM in the morning while half asleep, that I could do what Christopher Nolan did in "Memento". Yes, potential readers would not be used to the noir style, but stories can be reread same as a film can be rewatched to further absorb what happened.
By reversing the story's events I thus made the strongest importance occur at the end, which was how Diana had chosen to face her grief despite a slew of influences not to. I also retained the fact that Diana also did successfully overcome her grief to improve her mental health. Two endings are better than one. Though, I hadn't written a noir story before but I welcomed the challenge. As a result, throughout the entire plot readers see the coping process unfold completely before the ending with Diana's decision to face it falling squarely into place. For the real person involved in the story's events or me for writing the inspired story, both of us could see at least some ease with which she got through the ordeal. But that triumph paled in comparison for having decided to trek west to confront the grief. The noir style turned out to suit this story perfectly.
I also had never written a female lead character in anything I have ever attempted before, though I had made efforts to include plenty of women in what I've written more recently. Since I was not writing a story characterizing a specific person's exact nature, writing a female lead character was challenging but for reasons I'm sure might make some people chuckle to themselves. While I was not ever going to include so much detail that certain feminine issues would need to be included for realism (thank goodness), I was still daunted by the fact that with me being a guy I might not write a realistic or convincing female character as a lead. Well, from my creative writing in recent years that issue is not as much of a concern as it used to be. And given who the character of Diana is inspired by, I can think of no more deserving of a person who can have the distinction of being my first female lead character written than she herself.
So, first noir style story, first female lead character, and I hope a very compelling story that can inspire women of all ages to idolize Diana for her courage and bravery to face her fears of a loving beau taken well before his time. I have also decided to continue the narration style and excluding monologue or dialogue, because these would make my stories way too complex and long for posting publicly on a daily basis. One of the mental health elements I wrote into "To Have Loved & Lost"© will actually be the center piece for my next story, tentatively planned for January or February of 2017.
Again, I want to thank everyone for their moral support, their continued interest in my blog and story writing as well. I hope you will join me again next year for the next installment of "Just Before the Dawn"© as I work closer to publishing this collective work perhaps as soon as late next year.