A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. – William Shakespeare
What the Bard doesn’t mention, is that the valiant also tastes failure a thousand times-fold compared to the coward. It takes courage to experiment, because it is far easier to achieve success by repeating the exact same pattern.
A few friends have expressed their curiosity at just how much Flowers may have changed. My answer is: aside from similarities in the opening scene, a ton.
My initial attempt began as an experiment with a different writing style. There is a convention in western fiction to begin a story by establishing the major events, and then — as the story progresses — slowly fill the details in through flashbacks and reflections. Readers do not initially understand all of the underlying details such as character motivations until much later. But when their opinion is slowly molded to later reach clarity, it can be a gratifying experience.
The problem is: this apparently did not work with my writing style. As a few beta-readers and commenters have noted, my writing focuses on portraying the character’s motivations and using their conflict of personality/goals to craft the story. When denied this, it makes the story feel hollow and its happenings hard to empathize. The fact that our modern lives are flooded with stimuli means it’s hard for a reader to care long enough if they’re bored to keep reading.
Lesson learned: I should not be attempting this kind of experiment as an exposition. Maybe later in the story, maybe.
Flowers‘ rewrite returned me to a more familiar style: a chronological depiction of how an individual is slowly molded, affected, and shaped by the world surrounding them. Many scenes I had planned for “later” in the story were brought early, to fill in gaps from the start and forge an understanding of the character motivations since the very beginning.
I hope this doesn’t make me a coward. Sometimes what works should be maintained and not changed.
Yet at the same time, I pray that the costs I suffered this trial does not make me more risk-averse in the future. My time resources may prove well spent as I did gain valuable experience. But opportunities are rare, and I lost a pen pal dear to me in this failure.
~ AoriiAuthor's Comment
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