My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.’
– Anton Chekhov
I came across this quote by one of my all-time favourite authors and I had to smile. He is so insightful and so right in his observation of human behavior! I read this line a couple of times over and sat down to read a couple of my stories that I believe are some of my better works.
As I read, I realized that, it is in the beginning and in the end that I tend to apply my imagination, aim to create a space, an environment that will invite my reader into the story. I may use familiarity, intrigue, fear – anything that, in my opinion, sets the tone for my story. But as I read I also realized that was not the core message of my story. My story actually began after I had finished with the introductions, and got my reader settled.
Once the action in my story was complete, I had expressed what it was I wanted to say, I came back to the scene I had created in the beginning, and had wound up the threads to bring my story to a close. So yes, in that sense, what Chekov stated, saying what we authors do most of our lying in the beginning and the end is definitely true. But I wonder if that is lying or the creative treatment that each of us gives to the stories we want to tell.
Also I wonder if I was to tell the story without the beginning or the end, would it still be interesting; would people read it as a story, or merely as an opinion, or an essay such as this?
What is your take as a writer? Do you agree with Chekov that deleting our beginnings and endings, often elaborately created to set the mood, would make our stories stronger? I am going to give this a try. And share both the stories here on my blog sometime soon. If you give this experiment a try, do share. I would love to see how the stories turn out.
~ Bharti Athray
Image source: Mark Pelleymounter Blog