Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Oh, no! Don't tell the story that way


Like a cat, there’s more than one way to skin the critter and obviously more than one way to tell a story. Think of the times we watch a film version of a book and feel sure that the director should have handled it our way.
An email from South Africa brings a variation on that idea from a reader who believes I should have written my latest book in a different way.
‘When I picked up Sailing to Purgatory,’ says ‘CJ’, writing to me at this website, ‘I was expecting to learn about that trial you endured.

It is beautifully written

‘Instead I read a sailing book with a bit of a love story thrown in.
‘Don’t get me wrong here, it is beautifully written and I had to read it with my Oxford pocket dictionary at hand for some of those words.
‘You sowed the seeds of intrigue very periodically but there was no preamble about what was coming. Only at the end does the reader get some sense of what then happened.
‘I am going to presume to tell the author, what I would have liked to see,' my critic writes.
‘At the outset I would have the end of the trial. 'Then a brief narrative of the ambush, the detention without access to friends and family, and then the preparation for and subsequent commencement of the trial itself.

The interminable wait 

‘Then jump to the judge’s summing up and the interminable wait, for you, whilst the jury reached a verdict.
‘I would have sketched the scenario of you standing to receive the verdict in full expectation of a not guilty verdict, the prosecution having been unable to find any concrete evidence of your involvement.
 ‘The state had to prove beyond reasonable doubt and surely, after what had been placed before them in evidence and with the benefit of the judge’s summing up, you could only be set free.
 The ambush and the gross injustice – especially in a land where justice is held to be so ‘fair’ – came as an utter and complete surprise, shock, devastation. The appalling trial itself went on for 18 months.
 ‘The devastation of the guilty verdict and then the sentencing…. "A lighter sentence by virtue of your age," said the judge? Nineteen years!

Let the reader judge

‘Having explained that the whole case revolved around your final voyage, I would have taken the reader on that final voyage.
'Then let him judge for himself the probabilities of a guilty verdict.’
Phew, well, thanks very much, CJ. As I say, more than one way to skin a cat. I did sketch out the story in a number of ways.

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