Why I chose to add a chapter to “The Easter Parade” for my final project.
April 23, 2007
Readings in Contemporary Fiction Final Creative Response Project
What I Was Trying to Do
When trying to decide what to do for this project I initially considered mimicking a style of one of the writers and writing an original short story. I thought this would be better. As I said in class since I don’t know what the characters were doing when they are not “on page” so how could I write them not being the person who created them? The writer most like my style is Richard Yates. Not a lot of prose and quick bursts, as I call, them of narrative and exposition to get the story moving along. We both also use a lot of dialogue and I, like Yates, don’t go in for modernistic or post-modernistic techniques like I saw in Fall on Your Knees and The Last Thing He Wanted.
Then I thought maybe it would be easier to write a missing section of one of the books being that having characters and situations already created for me might make it easier to channel that author. I like Never Let Me Go and Fall on Your Knees the best and thought of doing something with those two. But NLMG’s ending was fixed and FOYK’s needed way to much work to do what I wanted to it, mostly delete pretty much most of what didn’t concern Kathleen, because it is her story and only her story, and also to bring her back from the dead. Plus I found McDonald’s writing style to be annoying.
I chose The Easter Parade because the ending didn’t sit right with me. The dialogue in the final conversation between Emily and Peter seemed awkward. And to end it with Emily accusing people of murder and neglect without resolving those issues seemed to tidy. Maybe there wasn’t an ending for Emily. Sarah and Pookie died giving them their ending. Because Emily neglected them does she not get a resolute ending? Is she destined to live with the pain of abandoning her sister and mother to live harshly then die?
Maybe but I was a fan of Emily and wanted to see things turn out better for her. And I think the possibility for this is opened by her visit’s to Peter’s. He is a kind, sympathetic and helpful person, perhaps he and Emily would talk and she would realize that it wasn’t her fault and that she was allowed to go on living and be happy. So I imagined a scenario in which Peter helps Emily see that her biggest problem has become her drinking and set her on a path to recovery.
I had a whole set of scenes worked out to come after the end of Part 3 Chapter 3. They included the first scene at Peter’s, Emily entering rehab and getting counseling, going to AA meetings, meeting a man, resolving some end issues, starting to work again, then (in keeping with the depressing tone of the book) when things were finally starting to look-up for Emily she gets liver disease and dies. I didn’t want to kill her but felt that with the tone of this book and everything else we read it had to happen that way or else it would be too much of a departure from the Yates story.
But as I started writing it I saw that that scenario wasn’t going to play out. Too much was going to need to happen in a short amount of time and even Yates wasn’t that quick with his exposition, as I read it. Plus the story started going the way that it wanted to. I tried to force it back into my original outline but one or the other had to go, where it was going or start ovr and write from the original outline. Also I feel that the direction the story did take was more in line the tone of the novel. Not too much good things could happen that quickly to be believable.
Channeling Yates wasn’t too hard. I just tried to keep the use of adverbs and adjectives to a minimum and also use some of the catch-phrases that he did. Like “I see,” “you know,” “actually,” “ah and oh.” Plus he used feminine pronouns when referring to Emily quite a bit too, so I tried that. Difficulty I ran into was mixing in prose and exposition with dialogue. How much to use and when to use it. Also he doesn’t use dialogue tag-lines much, and I use them very rarely, so it become an issue of is this in his style or in mine.
The other difficulty that I had was how much time to skip forward through. I didn’t want to go years ahead because what was planned for Emily would need to happen rather quickly or she would be lost for good. In Part 3 he covers almost ten years pretty quickly, which is why I like his style. My stories generally take place in a day or two and are very dialogue intensive, so again getting the mix proved to be hard.
A good exercise that I enjoyed and I found that the words cam quickly after I started typing. I wish I had more creative writing assignments (in all my classes) this semester because I enjoy them so much more than comparative writing but my schedule did not allow for it. Another thing I found after starting that I could have gone on and probably wrote much much more since I liked the character of Emily so much and I cared what happened to her.