This is a behind the scenes extra for GUIDANCE, so I recommend reading that microfiction story first, as some of this may have spoilers.
Magical Realism Twitter bot: “A schoolmaster steals pure evil and hides it inside a church.”
This was the fourteenth micorfiction story I wrote for this website and by far the most difficult. I had a few ideas after deciding on this writing prompt, but they all felt typical, something readers had likely seen before. When I’m having trouble with a prompt, I start dropping and changing aspects of it to see if I’ll find a story.
What if the schoolmaster doesn’t “steal” evil, but instead finds it? First, what is “it” … an object? An animal? A person? He’s a schoolmaster, what if it’s a kid? Or all the kids? Still feels typical.
What if instead of “pure evil” it’s just evil? Not even capital E Evil, just what some people do to others. Kids can be cruel. If the schoolmaster interpreted that as “evil” – and it’s just kids being kids, what then? Depending on the time period, people could take him seriously (the kids are possessed by demons!!!), or they might be concerned he’s not the right person to teach their children any more.
Now the story is more about the schoolmaster than the evil. It’s about someone who sees something bad, something horrible to him, and … what does he do? Confront it? Does he know what to do? If he doesn’t, who does he go to? The prompt mentioned “church,” so if it’s a religious good/evil scenario, then he’d go to … [insert Googling here because I’m non-denominational] … his pastor.
Does the pastor believe the schoolmaster? Let’s say yes. In that case, the pastor gives the schoolmaster … some thing/ritual/whatever … to get rid of the evil in the kids.
Once the schoolmaster implemented the pastor’s advice, I saw I hadn’t defined what kind of evil it was – kids being kids or something supernatural. Going back, I tweaked the wording toward the interpretation I wanted. Then I added the conversation with the pastor’s wife. This brought the story to a different level to me and pushed into the “literary” world.
Having now written almost forty microfiction stories, this is still the one I struggled with the most.
Thanks for reading,