This is a look behind the scenes for my story I will protect you. If you haven’t read the story yet, please stop here as this article contains spoilers.
I find that my ideas often come from simple or very mundane concepts. In the case of this story, I started with the basic premise of a family doctor, and the trust and respect he/she enjoys in the community, especially when it is a small one.
I wanted to take the concept of trust, and twist it in a shocking way. On the other hand, I didn’t want the doctor to betray that trust knowingly. Instead, I wanted to create a scenario where the doctor’s moral virtues were so elevated, that everything else paled in comparison.
The story was a pretty challenging one to write, more so because I once again chose to restrict myself to no more than 1000 words. Within that very restrictive word limit, I needed to build a relatable character, establish his priorities and motivations, introduce the threat to all he holds sacred, explain the technical means for his plot, and then play out the mass execution, all while infusing within it a deep sense of love, longing and beatitude.
To make the doctor relatable, I play on his vocal qualities (“a rich baritone, authoritative, but gentle and reassuring”), and highlighted how the little child —despite being in a dentist’s chair and about to get the “big needle”— still trusts and loves the good doctor. I also transition from referring to the doctor by “title, first name” to referring to him directly by name. Then, I give the reader a glimpse of the doctor’s memories and his fondness for the village and its people. All of this is intended to humanize the doctor and give the reader a feel for his drives and passions. At this point, I also hint at the “looming threat” that worries him.
Next, I introduce the “threat” — the advent of television. This is where I fear I might have been a bit too obscure. I did not want to state the threat outright. Rather, I wanted the doctor’s body language and behavior to hint at it, and for the reader to hopefully get it. In fact, since you’re reading this, I’d love to hear from you, was the inference clear enough or did it leave you puzzled? Let me know in the comments.
In the final scene, the doctor goes on to euthanize the whole population of the little village, including himself, because he feels he has now outlived his usefulness. Here, I refer back to what the child tells the doctor at the beginning of the story, “I trust you”. The idea is to reinforce the idea of the trust that exists between child and doctor, and hopefully make it contrast more powerfully with the horror of what is about to happen.
The reference to Nat King Cole’s song “Nature Boy” serves to give the scene an additional emotional twist and introduce the idea of the doctor’s deep love for his community, again intended to be in stark contrast to what the flick of the switch brings about.
I hope you enjoyed the story and this “behind the scenes” article. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Do you think I delivered the story’s message clearly enough? Did the characters feel real or flat? Did the story make sense? Let me know!