Thursday, August 26, 2010
The Story Behind the Story: A Teaching and Learning Aid
At UM where they teach three stories and at USM where they teach the entire collection, they actually use The Story Behind the Story as both a teaching and a learning aid for the students. What a great idea, I thought!
When I completed the blog series for all seventeen set-in-Malaysia stories in Lovers and Strangers Revisited, I knew it would be useful for writers wanting to learn how to write a short story, the tricks (and the hard work) behind the literary magic. Rarely does a writer rewrite a published short story, yet, here I was revisiting those stories from the original Heinemann Asia publication of Lovers and Strangers (1993), rethinking them, even overhauling them for Lovers and Strangers Revisited (Silverfish 2005) and the expanded MPH version (2008), winner of the 2009 Popular-The Star Reader’s Choice Awards for fiction.
While making direct comparisons between the first published versions of my stories with those in the MPH collection for the blogs, I was blown away by how much the stories had in fact evolved. At a glance, it may look like the same story, but the differences are both subtle and stark. It’s not just the details, the preciseness of language; there have been changes of titles, of characters, of beginnings and endings, of point of view, and even shifting from past tense to present tense. Some of the stories even doubled in length; they had whole new endings, or new back-story weaved into it to make the story complete.
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