Monday, March 4, 2013

On Words And Voice

Yet another long story. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

It took a few pages to fall into place, pages during which time I wasn't entirely sure about how the dynamics of the story would work out or what kind of voice to go with for Samuel and Archie. Fortunately, I pounded through those difficulties at some point on Thursday night and got the kinks figured out.

15,000 words is very long for a short story. Many publishers won't even take shorts longer than 6,000. It works out to roughly 40 pages given the usual average of around 350 words per page, so yeah, that's a lot.

But once I get the idea in my head for a story and it's fleshed out, I can't write them shorter. Stories sometimes determine their own length, shorting them would feel wrong, somehow. Once you get those ideas in your head, those particular characters, you have to let them run free and breathe, spread their wings a little. Or in this case, arm-wrestle a drunk Martian and trash a brothel.

I'll probably be revisiting this one over the year. They're a fun duo to write. I based it roughly on the Jeeves and Wooster formula, replacing Wooster with a somewhat dimwitted but imaginative action hero and then turned them loose. The voice I used was very similar to the one I use for the Bob stories, except I changed the focus somewhat. The conceit of the Bob stories is that he's telling them to his new assistant/eventual replacement. He spends a lot of time foreshadowing things he has done during his career. I use those bits to brainstorm ideas for further Bob stories. It's pretty shameless, actually.

With Samuel, the implications are that he's relating the story immediately after it happens, once things settle down. His bits where he goes off trail and talks about his adventures are of things he's already done. His future's pretty much wide open. The parts where he goes off track and talks about previous adventures won't turn into stories, per se, but will probably come into play as story seeds where his past comes back to haunt him. For example, the Califa of Titan is probably still unhappy with him...

If anything, the parts that I use to foreshadow new stories with Samuel are the bits where he looks over the edge of the cliff and sees something dangerous to explore or contemplates a heinously misguided and unwise course of action. He's very much like a toddler who just has to touch the burner to see if it's really as hot as everyone says it is.

I haven't done the math but I suspect I'm pushing the 100k word mark for this year. That's quite a milestone for what amounts to a drunken dare to myself that I took up during a moment of depression.

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