Sunday, February 28, 2010

outlining with a story board - 2

This is the final strip of storyboard graphics for "The Summit."  After taking the time to mull over the previous blog, with its story board and highlighting of interim complications/problems, the current revision of the short story seemed to invite a tightening up.  The beginning of story implied a backstory of having just survived an avalanche, which was dropped.  The characters have enough problems on their hands as is, and it seemed enough to show they're hard-pressed to achieve their goal of reaching the summit.  Similarly, the complications of insufficient supplies of supplementary oxygen tanks, and strains of a failing relationship, furnished enough tension without adding the woman's secret knowledge of a pregnancy discovered just before their expedition.  The story board seemed a good focusing tool for identifying perhaps too many complications, just as it might have been useful to alert the writer of no obvious, central or main complication that could provide ample tension for a reader.

The scene of arriving at the cobblestone altar to Kali on the summit showed a major turning point, with a debilitating decline in the physical condition of the scientist.  The woman, almost physically spent herself, faces the daunting task of getting her incapacitated partner down the stormy mountain--the descent panel.  She takes shelter for the night beneath a canopy of fallen rocks in the "notch,"--see the night shelter panel.  Her partner is now unresponsive and she can only guess at the severity of his condition.  After a fitful night the woman awakens to the early gray light of dawn.  She checks for vital signs of her partner, but other than a still warm body temperature, she doesn't detect any.  Depressed and exhausted she goes in and out of sleep and wakefulness.  In one of her awakenings, she sees a figure at the entrance to her shelter.  At first she perceives it to be their guide, Ranpur, but she gradually becomes aware of all the physical characteristics of the goddess, Kali, blue-skinned, holding a sword and human head.  The Kali figure tells her to leave her partner and descend the mountain.  The woman is frightened and confused--she can't just leave him without knowing if he's dead.  Kali can't be consulted about anything further--she's gone.

The idea for the story arose in part from reading of the disastrous events in 1996 when 15 people died trying to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.  Eight of these people, men and women, died in a confused scenario when three or four parties climbing simultaneously made a series of errors.  In desperate attempts by the survivors to get off the storm swept mountain, partners unable to continue were left behind, whether dead or alive.

And so, the dilemma of our woman character: was it Ranpur, or the product of a stressed out imagination?  Does it matter--should she leave while she still has the strength?  Would the reader?

Well, the story, and the storyboard, were enjoyable to create, and will probably be repeated for some future stories.
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