Monday, February 18, 2013

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Holy hannah, that story ran long.

You know, I really need to kick my ass into writing shorter stories. Problem is, I keep inventing fun characters and settings and then want to wallow around in them.

In this case, I'd initially decided on this idea as an excuse to practice writing investigative fiction. Not necessarily of the "Major Tom killed Professor Plum in the kitchen with the ink blotter" type stuff, but something more in that direction.

Action's pretty easy, so far as plotting out stories go. Usually you start at point A with a clear sense of direction and continue until your hero's steamrolled over all obstacles and winds up at point B. Then there's a bit of wrap-up, you hit the final period on the page, hit save, and you're good to go.

Detective fiction usually follows a bit more of a predefined structure. There's more layering of plot and interweaving of details going on. Even if it goes off in a blatantly stupid direction (Yetis did it), there's usually a lot more going on behind the scenes, at least vis a vis developing the story.

You have to keep your eye on the ball because you're busy doling out details as you go along and you have to make sure that everything that you wind up with at the end was present at the beginning. So, you're constantly going back, making sure that plot developments later on are prefigured earlier on.

Then there's the whole issue of personal character arcs that you have to take into account. So, fun. In the future, I might write some more pure ones, without the supernatural elements, just because the format's pretty entertaining. Even though I suck at solving and writing forensic problems/logic puzzles, it's still a lot of fun to write.

If I ever get into writing full length novels, having a good handle on this format would be a good thing, I think. I really enjoyed the basic structure--it's much more predefined and pushes you to keep things moving.

And make no bones about it, I was definitely following a template here. I'm pretty shameless about using off -the-shelf storytelling structures. Mostly I use either the plain-jane Three Act Structure or the Lester Dent formula. In this case, I used the spiderweb-covered twelve-bang detective story plot formula that you can get by Googling around without too much difficulty. I just find writing more entertaining when I'm not laying out plot on a macro level. Structures take most of the heartache out of that process.

On a more immediate note, I really need to write shorter stories. So, featuring this week: a shorter story.

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