Saturday, February 16, 2008

Stories & Points

"If you reduce a story to a point, you miss the story." - Pastor Leon Hayduchok

I've been writing stories lately. I mentioned Krog's New Weapon already, which has started to generate a little buzz among my fighter pilot friends. I'm also working on one titled Socrates in DC, also for publication in Defense AT&L. It's one of the most ambitious stories I've written - and I'm not sure I've pulled it off (yet). But one of the questions that keeps coming up in discussions about both stories is: What is the story about?

Well, the story is about what it's about. Sure, there are layers of meaning and intention, but ultimately, Krog is about an alien (a Torrapian, to be precise) who is the program manager of a new spacecraft development program. He asks some important questions and makes a good-but-difficult decision. The Socrates story is about some people having an off the wall conversation with a Cajun Socrates as they wander through DC and admire the various monuments.

There are metaphorical elements (deliberate or not) in just about any story, and these two are no exception. But as my dear friend Leon often pointed out, if we take a story and reduce it to a point, however well supported that point may be by the story, we've missed the story. And from the writer's perspective, I'm not trying to write allegories. I'm trying to write stories. I hope they entertain and amuse, and perhaps make people think. But if I hit the reader over the head with THE POINT, then I haven't really told a very good story.

So as I write these crazy little stories (which do indeed have a point in mind, or more than one point, or different points to different people), I try to focus on telling the story - not on making a specific point. And I suspect the stories will mean different things to different people. Some will see things in the story I never imagined, while others won't see the things I intended for them to see. And it's possible my writing abilities aren't up to the challenge - but it sure is fun to try.

But in the end, I think the only question that really matters is - Did you like the story?

No comments: