Friday, June 30, 2006

JP's Tell-Tale Heart

Link to Original Story: Tell-Tale Heart - JP

This was a fun story to write—once you get the voice, it comes quickly. What’s most interesting to me is how JED and I went different directions with this pitch, and what parts of the original story we each kept or discarded. JED chose to emphasize the detail Poe placed in the set-up to the murder, where as I abandoned that element entirely, and focused on the narrator’s madness vs. his belief in his own sanity. Also interesting is how we tied the story into the substance of our narratives. Mine is sort of a sequel to the events in the Tell-Tale Heart, whereas in JED’s, Poe’s stories exist as written, to ominous consequence. The most difficult part of writing this one was thinking of some justification for having a heart on the mantel. Ultimately, I think it adds something to the story, though, an insight into the fact that the victim isn’t exactly the most normal person either.

I should also mention that this pitch was C’s idea. I was talking about horror to her and trying to explain how Poe did it in this story, and she said “well, why don’t you rewrite it?”

Leaving comments isn't always easy. Understand now that I like ALL of JPs stories. Mostly because he's a very good writer, but also partly because he's my friend and brother (awwwww) and I know how he thinks. So it's fun for me watching how he plays with the pitches regardless of what he does. Not to mention that I think his stories are the far superiors of mine any day of the week. Still, these comments wouldn't be that interesting, or honest, if all we did was suck up to each other all the time. I could say nice things all day, but eventually the warm fuzzies would fade away, and my words would become a boring and pointless drone. The good stuff has no meaning if that's all I put down. A critic can be a useful thing - if they're honest. So in the spirit of that, let me say that I really don't think this is JP's best story. He gets the voice down pat - it sounds very Poe-y. And the essence of Poe's original is definitely there. But I feel it is too confused and blurred to really get at the feeling of paranoia and rage that the original portrays. It's hard to figure out what is happening and why. Normally JP is the essence of clarity, but here I think he would have benefited from a more drawn out stage. A longer story could have racheted up the tension and given him ample time to expand/explore the plot line. On the other hand, I'm not sure that this story deviates enough from Poe. It almost seems like it hoves too closely to the original, simply adding in another heart. And I'm not sure that 2 is better than 1. I do like the idea of keeping Poe in the picture and I do like the idea of the paranoia as a contagion of sorts. But I bet if JP had it to do again he could do a more interesting job. So there.


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