chiselling away at genre expectations

steelchisellogoOver at The Steel Chisel, you can find a short story of mine, “Scenes from a Road Movie.” This is a piece I’d been sculpting away at for a while, so it seems only appropriate that it be published somewhere with “chisel” in the name.

The Road Movie is one of my favourite film genres. I wrote a paper on the Canadian Road Movie in university and the first “novel” (I use the word novel here so loosely it doesn’t even have grasp on itself) I wrote – when I was twelve – was called Road Trip. I’ve always found something fascinating about a journey rendered literal. Perhaps this comes from a similar well as my love of travel.

“Scenes from a Road Movie” began like any other work: with noble ambitions and scattered fragments. I wanted to show a relationship between a man and a woman that had no romantic endgame, yet didn’t just seem like a buddy comedy where half the “he’s” were changed to “she’s” after the fact.

As those scattered fragments gathered, I really discovered who Jenna and Adam were. How they each viewed their relationship to the other proved equally important. They saw a dichotomy: male/female; Canadian/American; weak/strong. But their perceptions of each other were so rooted in the people they used to be, that, like any good road movie, their journeys into their own little hearts of darkness involved rediscovering each other.

I had a plan with this. It was going to somehow be a screenplay or a novel; either way, it would have a full-length arc. When I picked it up again after a long hiatus, I read over the scattered fragments and discovered that I had the essence of the journey right there. I already had the major character beats documented: their origins, their turning points, their revelations, and the aftermath.

I realized the beauty of genre. It’s a Road Movie, of course. Everyone knows the structure of a Road Movie. There seemed no point to connecting the dots with hilarious incidents and/or tragic turns of events. The reader knows how this goes. And so there you have it: a Road Movie, or “Scenes” therefrom.

Maybe I was just lazy.