Over the weekend, I saw a play. It was the stage version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Since I enjoyed it and hadn’t read the book before, I decided to go to the source.
While the stage version is true to the book (so far, I haven’t finished it yet), there are shifts. Omissions.
“Chapters in books are usually given the cardinal numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and so on. But I have decided to give my chapters prime numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and so on because I like prime numbers."
Those are the first two sentences of one of the book’s sections, by the character’s count, chapter 19. So, as a reader, by this point you’ve already noticed his shift in numbering. Yet the explanation gives us more insight into the mind of the storyteller. He orders things and understands information in a way that is unconventional.
While the love of prime numbers is included in the play, this structure of using them to chapter a book isn't. It’s a static visual printed on a page. But this information could have been included. It was a decision. Yet to me, it feels key. It rings a bell of importance.
Don’t get me wrong, the script worked. I recommend the play. But contrasting the play to the book has me thinking (again) about editing. And I mean that in the largest reach of what it means to edit.
Yes, when I talk about editing I'm talking about what I leave in and take out of a document when I am writing for clients, but I'm also talking about how we make daily choices.
What we choose to see and record. What aspects of each story matter to us.
Seeing one version of a work next to another is another reminder for me that each story you see (or read, or hear) isn’t the whole story. With a combination of inquisitiveness and research, you’ll always find there is more.
The takeaway? For me, it’s to keep looking and keep questioning. Which just happens to be true for the protagonist of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, too.
Mali Anderson is a Chicago-based content creator. She creates blog posts, web copy, original photography, and feature articles.