Rupt — an experiment in fiction

Well, after several months of trying and trying and trying again, I just may have gotten the ending for this story I’ve been trying to write, “Rupt”. The draft I’ve got now, numbered version 3.5 (.5 always means almost ready, but I need feedback) is pretty different from what I started with. The last day or two saw me cutting several characters out partially or completely; and a major subplot was excised. This plot wasn’t contributing much anyway, and when I removed it, I realized what was missing in the story was a third character, a necessary character, a child in the family. Once I added Jenny, all kinds of things began to fall into place.

But there’s something interesting to note: I’ve taken a strange step with the ending of the story. I’m not ending it. What I mean is that the text of the story does, of course, run out, but it’s somewhat before the final unfolding of everything that happens in what we would normally think of as a plot. Some of it’s actually pretty obvious, but perhaps not enough of it. I’ve been watching Derren Brown, the magician, a fair bit lately to prepare for an I’ve been asked to write about him, and I really love and admire the way he uses the power of suggestion to make his art work. I’d like to do something like that with the ending of my story. In other words, I want to plant the seeds in the reader, to make an unmistakable impression of what will come, but also do so by suggestion within what’s presented prior to the “ending”.

So by design, certain events and words and structures in the story actually imply later events, but I don’t want to write about those later events if the reader can fill them in reasonably well with what I’ve got. So, in a kind of experiment, I’m putting this story file up for download to registered members of the blog, with the caveat that, if you do download it, you’ll read it, and if you do read it, you’ll sketch out the unfolding events in whatever detail you think is reasonable. You can write a few brief notes, sentences, or even a long-winded explanation of what you think will happen to Missus and Mr and Jenny Lepine. It’s very important you not read all the comments (since they will contain others’ sketches) before you write your own comment (prepare it in a text file and paste it into the comments if you feel you may read others’ comments first) and it’s very important to me that you do indeed write whatever ending you envision and whatever you feel about the fates of the different characters.

There’s one more condition: that the file only gets read by the person who downloaded it. After that, it gets deleted. If your spouse or kid or friend wants to read it, tell them to sign up to my blog and ask me to promote them, and then they can read it too. Thanks.

Now go ahead and download Rupt (in PDF format).

(Note: See update below.)

Oh, and by the way, I think there shouldn’t be many proofreading errors, inconsistencies, things that look like vestiges of the old plot, or whatever, but if you spot anything too distracting, a page number along with the “error” would be nice. I don’t plan on doing the final prettying-up until I see a few comments on the story, so it doesn’t matter if you take a while to get to it.

And also by the way, the downloads are tracked, which means if you don’t comment something bout it, I will come bug you for comments after a while. But don’t let that stop you; I think you’ll probably enjoy the challenge of mapping out the ending.

UPDATE (30 November 2006): I’ve taken the file off restricted downloads and deleted it from the server altogether, as I’ll probably be reworking it in the next few months for publication. As an experiment, it was a collossal failure. But I don’t mind. I think that with some serious reworking — including reading the whole thing aloud to myself — it could be a pretty damned good story, in the end.

3 thoughts on “Rupt — an experiment in fiction

  1. I read Rupt, and I really, really liked it. It’s clever, it’s imaginative, and I may have had a relevant dream about it last night. I like the tone of middle-class normality juxtaposed with the technical future.

    But something feels wrong about telling you what I think will happen. Somehow it seems to violate the unwritten contract between the writer and the reader. You tell us what happens, and I can tell you what I think about it. I can disagree with your choices, but as a reader, I read what writers write because I want to take a look into their worlds.

    Having said that, I can imagine having a go at it in a community setting, maybe an online forum or a live discussion group. Not sure why that solution seems appealing, when it’s still work.

    Another thought just occurred to me. The story as it stands is almost a first-act treatment of a screenplay. If I was writing the rest of it, I can imagine putting the work in. :)

  2. Cuccu,

    Wonderful, thanks for the feedback. I can understand you not wanting to tell me exactly what you think will happen.

    The only thing is that I have tried to suggest pretty clearly what probably will happen, and in some ways, I think I want to leave it at that… but I am a little worried that readers might not get all my clues and hints, which is why I asked.

    By your last comment, I take it you mean that it feels unfinished? Unsatisfyingly so?

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