The Story Behind the Story

Hi, and welcome to my Tuesday blog. Notice I'm trying to be a bit more regular with my posts. One can always hope. :)

I thought this week I'd talk a little about how one of my novellas, Garden Reach Garden Reach by Paul Alan Fahey came about.

Like many writers who tend to write short pieces, I struggled for years to write longer short stories. Finally I figured out a way to stretch my fiction.

I discuss this process in my writing book, The Short and Long Of It: Expand, Adapt, and Publish Your Short Fiction The Short and Long of It Expand, Adapt, and Publish Your Short Fiction by Paul Alan Fahey just in case you might want to read further.

But let's get back to Garden Reach and how this novella came about. First I expanded a 55 Fiction piece to a 100-word summary.

From: The Short and Long Of It: Expand, Adapt, and Publish Your Short Fiction, published by JMS Books.
* * * *
"Artistic License" (55 words)

He loved his Evelyn almost as much as he wanted her dead. He pictured her strolling a foggy cliff, the strangler closing in, the Pacific splashing the jagged rocks below. But she wasn’t central to the plot. A minor character. So he put her aside. He knew one day she would return in another story.
* * * *
"Artistic License" (expanded to a 100-word story summary)

Recently widowed, Evelyn Richards is having an anxiety attack. A storm rages outside. Her thoughts drift to Lilah, the woman who manages the Victorian residence. It feels good to start over, be part of a family again.
After her nap, Evelyn wakes to music. Lilah’s phonograph.
Dionne telling her to reach out.
The storm’s over.
Dinner with the other residents.
Next morning, she senses something wrong, searches through the mansion, discovers boxes of women’s clothing.
She goes outside.
In the garden, Mildred, holding a sharp object, walks toward her. Evelyn falls, clutches her chest, thinking, they said it was anxiety.
* * * *
The above summary’s a bit sketchy and most likely made more sense to me then than it will to you now, but it helped clarify why I was so obsessed with the character. By the time I finished the summary, I knew what the character wanted—a second chance and new friends—and a bit more about the wild and windy setting.
Here’s the opening scene of the expanded story, Garden Reach published as an e-book by JMS Books, that depicts Evelyn in her new surroundings, states the theme of second chances, provides backstory, and shows our heroine’s heightened emotional state. The full story clocks in at about 5,000 words.

Garden Reach Garden Reach by Paul Alan Fahey

Evelyn woke from her afternoon nap to Lilah’s phonograph and the sounds of early Burt Bacharach sweeping up the grand staircase. The singer, Dionne Warwick, was center stage, extolling the virtues of wives who were also lovers. Evelyn heard the waves hitting the rocks below, felt the force of the wind against the glass. At her living room window, she looked down and studied the garden. After years of neglect, it was nothing but a green wildness twisting and smothering its way to the ragged cliffs overlooking the Pacific.
At first, Evelyn’s new home, Garden Reach, had symbolized a fresh start, new friends, and companionship. Was it the name of the newly restored Victorian mansion, so full of hope and promise that had initially attracted her to Lilah’s advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle and this isolated area on the Northern California coast? Maybe.

Garden Reach
Now avail lux 1 & 2 bedrm suites, magnif renov
estate overlkng Pacific. Spect vus! 80 mi
N of SF. Bird watchrs’ paradise, pvt bch.
Just $750K. Senior wmn only.
Interested parties please contact Lilah Sarkees at…
Now, two months later, Evelyn was having second and third thoughts, wondering if it was possible so late in life to adjust to new surroundings.

* * * *

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my writing process.

Until the next time.

The best is yet to come.

Paul
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Published on March 21, 2017 14:12
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message 1: by Chester (new)

Chester Perryess Bravo. The way we get places is always fascinating. Thanks.


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul Hey, Charlie, thanks for coming over and commenting. Yep, it's all in the journey. Hugs your way, Paul


message 3: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Heckman I just love your style! Both your writing and your writing about writing. So clear, concise and helpful!


message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul Aww. Thank you. It was so good to see you yesterday. Really good for my spirits. I always wondered if I had a voice and then all of a sudden it came to me. Just write as if you were writing a letter to a good friend. Somehow that works. I'm also a fan of Dragnet. Just the facts, ma'm. Love it. Thank you again, V, and for stopping by my GR blog. <3


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