Saturday, February 17, 2007

Losing His Memory...with a twist

My idea is to use the story about my uncle that I shared with everyone a couple weeks ago as a base for my story, but to incorporate additional details and events that did not actually happen. The story will start in a similar fashion but will then become more interesting and, most likely, less realistic and more fantastic as it progresses.

Chris (change the name) lives in Brussels (possibly change the town too) with his girlfriend, Elana, and Elana's son, Braden. Elana and Chris are very happy together and often do not argue, unless one particularly touchy subject-Elana's desire to get married and Chris' refusal to do so-comes up. However, the comfort of their too-good-to-be-true relationship comes to a sudden halt when Chris suffers a heart attack during what was meant to be a pleasant afternoon walk with Elana. Revived by two men who fortunately happen to be walking by, Chris goes into a coma; doctors say there is no telling how long it will take for him to wake up, or if he even will wake up at all. Elana and Chris' family remain supportive as long as they can.

Three years later, he wakes up. His family and Elana, who have grown tired and lost hope by this point, are overwhelmed with mixed emotions. They have moved on with their lives. Elana is married to Benjamin, a wealthy business man who makes up for the limited amount of time and attention he gives Elana by buying her expensive things and assuring her that he will soon be able to spend more time with her and less time working. His family has, for the most part, lost hope and adjusted to life without Chris. On the other hand, they are thrilled to have Chris back, but do they really have Chris back?

Not only is Chris's life very different than it was when he left it, but also Chris himself is a completely changed man. He cannot remember anything; his own name, where he lives, the book he was writing, who is friends and family are, and all other aspects of his life have completely left him. The only thing he remembers is that he loves and wants to spend the rest of his life with Elana. No one really knows how to deal with the situation, but they can no longer just ignore reality and push aside Chris's current state of being. He is now alive and well, a man with no past.

That's as far as I have gotten at this point. I'm not exactly sure how I want the story to end, but I'm brainstorming and am, of course, open to suggestions.

1. Hypertext: I think I could really add depth and power to this story with the use of links, like in Tom's story, Chip in my Head. I would like to put characters' thoughts and opinions, which they don't feel comfortable expressing openly to others, in the links. They would serve sort of as journal entries, a way inside their head. I am not yet sure who the narrator will be. I'm also debating whether I'd only use the links for one person's thoughts (such as Elana) or if I will include those of all of the characters.

2. Oral History: I think hearing the emotion of a human voice would be beneficial to this story, which inspires me to tell it as an oral history. However, because time elapses and various events take place while Chris is in a coma, and I think it would be tough to verbally explain all of these occurrences, I am not sure about this form. What I am thinking, as I write this and get my ideas out, is that I'd like to include some links in my written story that link to an audio track. Instead of only reading the "journal entries" of the characters, the reader will be able to hear a character's reflections on a particularly significant part. For example, when Chris wakes up, I'd like to include an brief oral history from Elana about what she felt when she first found out.

3. Graphic Novel: I am incredibly hesitant to tackle this form and use it for this project because I do not consider myself very graphically talented. I prefer to utilize text, sounds, and possibly clip art. However, I have a hard time completely setting aside this option as I have really enjoyed ABC and other graphic novels that I have perused recently.


Tom Kealey said...

I wonder if the hyperlinks can be to information that we suddenly know, and that others know, but that Chris does not.

In other words, we have a scene in a train station. Chris just thinks it's a train station. But Elana knows that this is where Chris actually DID propose to her, just days before he fell ill.

And if we click on the link, we hear an oral history from Elana, or a photograph or video, and then we continue on, knowing more of Chris's story, while he knows less than we do.

I also think that an interesting perspective would be from Braden's POV. Both Chris and Elana's POV might be too loaded. But Braden is close to the story, has a little distance, and has presumably made significant changes in his own life in three years.

He might also be more open to Chris's return than Elana and the family.

Rebecca Fraimow said...

I'd definitely agree that this is a story that mixed media - a combination of oral and written sections - would work really well for. You could do this two ways, really; one is the way that Tom suggested, with clips of information that Chris doesn't know but that we do. The other option that might be cool would be a more abstract, Memento-style story, in which blips of information come through as Chris remembers them, which are later explained more fully (or explained in links) by other characters.

Either way, there's a lot to this story, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how you tell it.

Chris Holt said...

I agree with Rebecca in that you have the real possibility to use memory effectively to create a different effect. Part of me thinks it's worth doing the Memento thing and keeping the audience in the dark and slowing leaking true tellings of the events. Establishing reliability and unreliability in the various narratives is important, and I think retelling certain scenes (ala Tom's train scene) can have some overlapping and interesting effects. I guess the first thing to be asked is what kind of story is this: mystery? drama? comedy? All could work here.

Allan said...

Sorry for my tardiness. I'm using grandma's laptop.

I think I like the idea of an oral history, too. It's such a remarkable story that it's almost unbelievable and I think the human voice will make it real. Even though it's fictionalized, I think reality is critical.

The right voice is so important, as I'm sure you realize. One concern about oral history is that there are problems going outside of your protagonist's awareness. Yes he knows about his condition, but I think the story is bigger than his own consciousness and you'll need a clever way to work in a larger vision. On the other hand, the conspicuous absence of an outside perspective can make the man's condition all the clearer in its fuzziness, if that makes sense.

You express a concern about communicating time lapses. I think well-chosen music could serve as a cue for a phenomonological gap.
Let me also admit that I want everyone to do what I cannot, so I'm pushing you in a nontexty direction because of my own failings.