Between the Lines

I'm not going to tell you a story.

Have you ever wondered how stories are told? How an author creates a plot? Plots are important to stories, the central component around which lives and events unfold, but they are also the boundary for the same. So I won't tell you about the plot because it's a constraint, and I, for one, am tired of working within the confines of a fixed story. I want to try taking you outside.

Where does that leave us? Let's think about that. The storyteller chooses her words carefully, the scenes with extreme prejudice despite how casually each moment blends together in the end product. It's not possible to include everything. The construction of a plot questions and discards the time between paragraphs and facets of personality for characters. An episode in a show illustrates given scenes, but what happens off-camera when the audience can only see what the author has judged vital to the unfolding plot? Real lives do not include just relevant points. People are far more complicated than recorded moments of time. Time itself does not pause when the episode stops. Characters are made up of choices not made and rules followed without a moral crisis as well as the seconds that has you, the reader, on the edge of your seat with excitement. Stories are, after all, meant to hold your attention.

So where are the boring parts, the less important parts, and the parts that distract you from the main point? Why don't you ever see the character studies that don't make it into the story proper, or the "what-if" situations that go nowhere inside the plot and are therefore cut out? The pieces of crumpled paper that miss the wastebasket breed "maybe" in the spaces between scribbled words; the author's abandoned sentences continue to speak of "might have been" from the computer screen. A subplot that no one else is meant to see is still there, exploring where a story could have gone. A scene written widely outside the plot doesn't seem to have any relation to it and yet defines an author's choice in characterization. A famous quote or bittersweet song inspire a breakage of writer's block, and even if the result doesn't make the final cut, it's there all the same. Deaths, lives, and minor moments that never happen or could have happened behind the story are invisible and still shape the timeline you read.

I am not going to tell you a story. Instead, I am going to show you the negative impression of one, the empty place left behind after an author's outline has taken what it needs, and you may follow the missing phantoms of a plot wherever they take you.

Formerly known as "The Ficlet Breeding Project," it's now been renamed as this. I can't promise the ficlets are done breeding new bits and pieces in my brain, but the fic that created them is done forming, and this is the debris. Maybe there's be some scraps from polishing the fic up later.