After the Massacre?

FS Review


Yesterday, he witnessed the massacre.

Today, he will write about what he saw. What he heard. And what is to come.

He grabs his pen and scribbles the first line: "God has forsaken us."

His writer self doesn't ram into the so-called writer's block like before. Today is different. The ideas will keep on flowing, chock-full of emotions.

He writes of how the first gunshots subdued the bubbling moonlight revelry, turning the crowded field into an empty site.

How the black-clad killers  distributed themselves into every house. How the subsequent shots shattered the silent night. And how he, perched on a plum tree, observed the darkness as it emerged through the dark.

"The greatest of evils reside within men themselves," he continues. And he scribbles on.

He will make his readers understand this. He will make them enraged at least to seek justice for the massacred folks of Gembu. This piece must get even to the biggest publishing houses, shake even the sturdiest mind, he thinks.


But it really won't see print. It will fail to make anyone understand whatever. It will fail to seek the justice it seemingly craves.



E. B. White says, "[...] Don't write about MEN, write about A MAN."

There are big issues. And there are fragments of big issues.

Big issues are too broad to tackle. But we can pick up fragments and zoom in on them.

The massacre is an issue—a big one. But there are characters and events involved: the killers, the massacred villagers, the village, and the narrator himself. All of these are contained in the narration so there is no concentration or focus.

And when there's no focus, emotional effect is far-fetched.

You focus on little things and you succeed in making a reality realistic.

Instead of the entire event, one could zoom in on the effect of the massacre on one, two, three of the victims. Or address the mystery of the bandits. Or just put oneself at the centre of things. This way, the writer would have achieved a closer exploration of the whole event that possibly imagined.

Richard Price says, "The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. You don't write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid's burnt socks lying on the road. You pick up the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance."

That's how we achieve our desires on our audience.

Best Regards,

Elisha Oluyemi.


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