Years ago I wrote a short story called “Mr. Mac,” about a strange guy who lives down the street. A boy sees him doing an odd dance, and it goes from there.
The kernel that started the story was a series of photos of a person dancing. You couldn’t see the dancer, just the shadows. That got the wheels turning. I didn’t know what any of that dancing meant, so I wrote the story from the point of view of someone who didn’t know, either. The story is written as excerpts from the journal of a boy, then later the boy grown to manhood.
I like the story. I wrote it by instinct, with no idea where it was going. That can be disastrous, leading to a mess that never coheres. In this case, with such dreamlike subject matter, it worked out.
I recommend this sort of experiment to any writer, but not all the time. Use it for something you want to come off as a dream or nightmare. There is an extended sequence in which the hero enters a house and explores. I had no idea what he would find. I just put on the headphones and described what he experienced. It led to a long, surreal sequence I did not plan on, but which is still one of the best things I’ve ever written.
Years later–2018–I decided to revisit the story, but I was afraid I would mess it up by trying to open it up. You can dilute a good thing by piling on needles Stuff. I approached the expansion with a goal: Keep all the good stuff, but make it scarier.
To Be Continued…