Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On The Other Side of the Desk

You're called into an office and you take a seat. Whoever is sitting at the desk, you've stepped into their realm, their home base. You're out of your element Donny. You look up at them, not only because the situation demands it but because they're sitting in a throne-like office chair while you're crouched in an oddly tiny reception chair. The seating arrangement isn't the only uncomfortable part of this situation. You're vulnerable. You're in a position to be judged. Your ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DESK.

President Obama at the Resolute Desk in the oval office.

Being on the other side of a desk from someone in a position of authority is not only intimidating and uncomfortable, sometimes to the point of terrifying, but infinitely relateable. We've all been there. Whether it was a visit to principles office back in grade-school, a job interview, bad news from a doctor, or an ass-chewing from a boss, everyone has been on the business end of of a desk-visit. This is a universally understandable experience.

And this makes it a perfect addition to your story.

As writers, our goal is to put our readers into the story. To do this we have to give them situations, emotions, characters, settings, etc., that they can relate to and identify with. Putting your character on the other side of the desk gives your readers instant-empathy for that character. 

I've actually written several short stories recently that take place exclusively at the desk. One is a robot sci-fi story I've submitted to Asimov's Science Fiction (keep your fingers crossed for me) and the other is a "genetic enhancement" sci-fi story that's up for critique at On Fiction Writing. I would love to hear what folks have to say about the latter. If you're up for doing some critiquing (it's only ~1,200 words) head over to OFW and click the "Critique" tab on the top of the page. My story is called "Customer Service".

Or if you're not feeling OFW, shoot me an email at adamg73 [at] juno [dot] com and I'll email you the story. Thanks!!!

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