Dueling Approaches

In the midst of my endless editing, I’m working on another story concept called The Castle on the Hill.  No need to worry, this story is far from another over-done fable about kings and queens and princes and princesses. I’d rather base jump into a vat of acid than write such cliched drivel. However, the story idea has presented a challenge because the protagonist is delusional, so I’ve had an internal debate about how to start the story. Should I lay the facts on the table or should I prop up the imaginary world of the protagonist and slowly reveal the truth as the plot unfolds and works its way to the climax?  It’s not a debate to take lightly because it all boils down to surprising and delighting the reader.

The first approach, revealing the essential facts up front, seems straightforward, but it feels like it’s been done many times before and takes away from some of the surprises in the plot. I call this approach the “by the book” approach because it is likely how many writers would unravel the story. There’s nothing wrong with this story progression but it doesn’t feel inventive. I’ve already written the concept in this way and I generally like it, but I think there could be more to the story.

That’s where the second approach comes in. The story opens with a grand illusion presented by the protagonist, a world that she truly believes in, but a few tiny cracks are revealed ever so slightly as we get to know her. Unlike the first approach, this version of the story leaves the reader wondering what’s wrong. There’s definitely an uneasy feeling that ripples just beneath the surface. The only concern with this version is that may come off as kitschy if not handled properly, like a silly clown routine at a second-rate circus.

To resolve this internal conflict, I’ve decided to write both versions of the concept and see which one I like best. I may post both here to see which one gets the most likes or comments. Either way, one of the concepts will land here soon. I’m excited about the potential of the story and may make it my next project after I finish the story of never-ending edits. Whenever that may be…

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