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This post speaks to my personal writing process for “Melody’s Crescendo” and it contains spoilers for that work. For a deeper understanding of the elements included or explained in this post please read my flash fiction (it’s short and free ^_^).
Our writers’ group looks at open calls for submission and all of us write toward one of the prompts together. We share were we are in process, provide feedback on how each person took the same prompt in a different direction, and encourage each other to submit out completed stories.
Melody’s Crescendo hatched from a call for action stories. Zach Standfield picked out this prompt. It’s little surprise since he writes crime themed stories, that he thought a call for a short action story would be ideal. The other writers in my group have their stories from this exercise published. I felt it was only fair Melody’s Crescendo see the light of day too.
Writing short, action driven narratives is not my strong suit (see what I write instead here). I ramble and my interests align with themes and ideas more than actions or characters. But I wasn’t about to admit I couldn’t write a short action piece, so I workshopped some ideas. Both my mother and my husband had to hear a plethora of pitches and complaints for this prompt. But I'm not a quitter and no one will ever accuse me of not completing a prompt (though chances are good I'll violate the spirit of the prompt just to be contrary ^_~).
The action genre has a lot of leading dudes. War and spy movies come to mind first when someone says “action genre” with “crime fiction” a close third. I knew I wanted to subvert those expectations. So I made my main character female, and I dropped her into college.
I set the event at a party because I wanted my character to be the 'good guy'. If Melody hunts out her ex, then she’s looking for trouble. If she’s in her sorority house enjoying a party and the ex shows up, he’s the asshole. Because the fight happened in Melody's home turf there's underlying tension to the scene. If Melody isn't safe here, where can she retreat to? Is this one bad relationship going to chase her out of college?
There’s a lot of swearing. College drinking culture = potty mouth (tell me I’m wrong youth).
The names were the most fun part of this story. Melody is in my top twenty girls' names or all times, and the plays off the name seemed to flow. Her friend’s name is Robin because we know birds for chirping melodic beats.
The work itself: Melody’s Crescendo refers to a musical notation that looks like < under a few stanzas of music. It’s meant to indicate how a song gradually gets louder throughout the marking. Melody’s story gets louder until she’s thrown in the bathroom. I wanted to title the work “Melody’s Accelerando Crescendo” because the story beats pick up speed and volume, but that’s not a pretty title. Plus, it’s a little on the nose.
Music interests me in relation to an action based story because it has inherent movement without violence. I liked the nod to nonviolent action even if I wrote a story that incorporates a fight scene. I also like music because fight scene are choreographed like a dance. I don't have to explain the connection between music and dance or how choreographing a fight is pretty much what I did for this story, right? These were little elements to keep me engaged in writing something I'd usually avoid.
I held onto the Melody’s Crescendo for years without ever submitting it for publication. My genre niche is in fantasy and there are no fantastic elements in this story. Melody’s Crescendo leans into my 'feminist agenda,' or feels like it does anyway since the story covers rape, domestic abuse, and female friendship. It’s a good story, but I didn’t want to be the girl author who writes about women. More recently, I’ve seen how stupid that is. I am an author who writes about “women’s issues” (FYI these are human issues not women only ones and I hate that anytime you want to speak about them you have to label them women's issues) and female identity. While I don’t think it’s my primary goal in work, it’s in all my writing. Melody's Crescendo doesn't have the luxury of fantastic elements to couch some of the issues my protagonist faces, but her story shares more commonalities than different with other characters I've written.