I recommend you read my story Bloodlines, before reading the rest of this post. The following document is a working document of my process for creating Bloodlines, and it explains the decisions I made while writing it. I’d like it to serve as a way to help you better get into my head as a writer. Please enjoy and let me know if you’d like to see working documents like this with my future stories.
Working document for Jamal and Quentin Story:
Just working on some ideas for a new short story, working on method too. So, today is meant for planning, and then tomorrow I’ll write the draft all at once, hopefully, once I’ve got the planning and concepts down.
Conceptually I want to deal with diamonds, coal, and pressure. I know scientifically that’s not how they work, but the concept is so well understood to be that way in main culture that I’ll use it as a basis. Diamond is pure carbon and formed under high heat and high pressure. It has a distinct hardness making it hard to scratch or abrade, but it only takes a well-placed hammer strike to break a diamond. Coal is organic material formed in moderate heat and moderate pressure. It is also not very hard or sturdy, but shines in its varying uses. Pressure, is both physical and psychological/mental. It is a force that our lives insist on us, it is the physical pressure we feel.
I’m picturing two brothers, one depicting diamond in that he is seen as perfect, and just from the very fact that he had gone through Princeton or some other such school and eventually went on to get his degree (Pressure and heat), he is theoretically and academically perfect. The other brother is not as perfect, graduated with only a bachelor’s but is a pillar to his community. People need him/want him in various respects in the city he is in and he serves the city to the best ways he is able.
I first wanted to depict the pressure as death, but I realized that would be too typical. I think the pressure should be unconventional. Like a plague sweeping through the city causing it go on quarantine, or a rapture-like event and everyone but themselves are being raptured, or an economic depression have put them in relatively equal footing, or they both come back to their home town, reluctant to fulfil their fathers will of them running the family company together.
Jamal and his brother Quentin are both successful in their own respects. Quentin, getting higher degrees from Princeton was seen as the more perfect son and his status as research PhD serves as a symbol of that academic perfection. Jamal on the other hand is 4-year college graduate, but has become a pillar in his community. Their father had died a few months ago and his will was finally discovered. He want his sons to continue the business of running his semi-successful café. Both brothers would have to uproot to take on this new demand.
6/7/18: Alright so I honestly have no idea how to continue this story. I don’t have any scenes that are coming to mind to help me write this at all. What I’ve done so far in the story is finally bring these two brothers together in the home of their now dead father. But this begs the important question here of what’s the direction of this story? In a longer work, they would start trying to get the café running, running into sorts of trials and tribulations that would help them grow together as siblings, etc. And I still, somehow must try and convey the breaking pressure that both of them are supposed to feel. I literally have no idea how to convey this in the short amount of literary time I have.
My first thought is to imply what they have coming ahead, like a note from their dad that says that he wants them to work together despite the difficulties they have coming ahead. But this doesn’t have the pressure aspect that I was hoping to convey with this story. It seems like the pressure I wanted to convey was one that got steadily more intense over time. I don’t have the narrative space to handle that theme, but I can handle a sudden and intense amount of pressure, one that could break a diamond.
While going to bathe my soon, feed him, and what not, I came upon an interesting idea in terms of what I could do for the story. Let’s say for instance that the reason the father sent his sons to home was only under the pretense of running the café. But when they get to the home they find a note. He’s hidden bodies throughout the house and in his note, he says not there are dead bodies at each location but something along the lines of there being a final thing they didn’t know about him. It turns it into a short horror bit about them finding bodies throughout their home and the ethical/moral decision as to if they should report it to anyone, you know, since he’s dead and all.
6/8/18 – Finished the story using the above as my plot structure. I’m going to take this afternoon away from the story and start editing either later tonight or tomorrow morning.
6/9/18 – Just converted the story to the laptop from my Alphasmart. It’s time to do some content editing, see if there’s anything I can/can’t take out and stretch the areas that need lengthening.
The first thing I’m fixing is the length of my first paragraph, I found it too short so a supplemented it with more detail on Marcel. I think this makes the first paragraph more aesthetically pleasing, as well as conceptually pleasing.
I’m adding more sentences that start with “he” into the second sentence to heighten the shift from Marcel to Miesha. This will include the subsequent shift to she as this part continues.
As I’m editing this for content, I’m realizing that the ending of this story doesn’t quite match the beginning. This is technically true because I changed trajectories half way through. I’ve now got to change somethings around to get the halves to match. The way I’m going to do this is through editing the ending a bit later.
My detail on Quentin is a bit lacking for my own liking. So I’m adding more about him.
6/10/18 – Back on the horse. I wish I could be faster on this process. I’m eager to get the story finished and share it on the blog. But I know that this stage of writing is just as important, if not more, than writing it in the first place. My job now is to craft that insight of creativity that I had and to hone it to as close to a fine point as I can achieve.
I finally finished my content editing. Most of what I did in the ending was trying to bring together some unity to the parts. I think I did a fairly decent job at doing so. My next step is to do a line-by-line copyedit of the work and I’ll do a proofread tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll have any more notes, except for when I come up with a title. Actually I’ll do that now, using the method I learned from ?uestlove. Possible titles so far are From Our Father, Being Useful, Bloodlines. I’m going to go with Bloodlines. It’s just the right fit for how I see the content.