Out of war come stories, those of horror, those of courage, those of love. My grandmother, as did many grandmothers and grandfathers, repeated them often enough to ensure that their survival served a purpose. They needed to show the evil side of human nature as a warning, but also to reveal the good so that it did not get burdened by the one to overwhelm the other to the point where hope was lost. My grandmother told the story of how kindness had saved her from the gas chamber. It was only as an adult that I discovered that it was all a lie.
This opening that comes to me in the dark hours of a predawn cup of coffee comes with a plot that leads it to a dramatic arc–unusual for me since I very rarely see the story laid out until I’ve started writing it. But even at this stage, only minutes old, I see the telling of it, the twist. And there’s something else that becomes clear; it could well prove best told in the form of hypertext.
It seems that the theme of perception guides my use of hypertext as a medium; when I find two strong characters it seems that there will automatically be two points of view that intertwine and parallel themselves to possibly different ends. This was the secondary basis of my first story written in hypertext–the main being the choices made that bring about different conclusions. Still, I’m not proficient enough with the hypertext medium–even with the marvel of Storyspace that makes organization of story lines so much easier–to make full use of the form.
With the above beginning, the natural inclination is to return to the past via the grandmother’s story and to show as well the reality of an opposing point of view, a version that includes the events that grandma didn’t witness that would change her small segment of experience of WW II considerably from one of kindness to one of biased hatred. That would be, of course, the story of the German officer who she considers her savior, but who in fact selects her in particular, as a Polish friend to Jews, for death. What saves her is not him, but a more intricate series of events played out in careful time.
My task now is to either let the story play itself out in traditional text form, or to toss this opening paragraph into Storyspace and see if I can learn the patterns that would tell it perhaps in more depth.