Monday, April 8, 2013

Redacted Mortem

It's good to have a shorter story every once in a while. Gives me a break. Even if I never really have a shortage of ideas or things to write about and the longer stories tend to be fun as hell to write, it physically takes something out of you to bang out the equivalent of a fifth of a novel over the course of two or three days.

I don't generally tend to write stories that are about anything in particular. I'm more about entertainment  value, telling stories without much more than the occasionally mildly subversive subtext. This was simultaneously a fun change and also something I fully intend to not do very much.

I don't think I particularly went overboard with it--nobody's really going to argue that DRM is a pain in the butt and the whole copyright industry going after music downloaders thing sort of became a non-issue a few years back with digital downloads being relatively convenient these days. What you really see more of lately  is the issue of ridiculous copyright frippery going "meta"--it's all about government legislation, trade agreements and going after safe havens and whatnot instead of ridiculous DRM schemes.

But everybody tends to focus on downloadable music instead because that's what they're familiar with, so that's a good place to start. I'm not sure I'd be able to get a good story about SOPA or ACTA, even if that kind of thing is where all the action is. The industry is deeply, deeply flawed and it touches on everything involved with content creation. I don't think you can be any sort of creator or distributor without having a stand of some sort on copyright.

Writers have always had something of a schizophrenic relationship with copyright. Yes, ideally, one pair of eyeballs on one piece of your fiction would represent a sale, but it just doesn't work like that in real life. People like to share their books with friends. Libraries are another source of eyeballs. People sell their used books.

After a while, you just have to be comfortable with the fact that your writing has a certain lifespan to it. You have primary sales and then beyond that point, it loses direct cash value and becomes a sort of advertising. You get audience reach but not cash value, per se. And this is a good thing, in my opinion. Copyright should be about making sure people aren't stealing your crap and putting their name on it, or reselling your stuff without your permission.

But enough of that.

For a first draft, I think this turned out well. It's the sort of story that requires quite a bit of layering. When I get around to redrafting it, if I ever do, I think I'm going to put some more effort into tying the story at the beginning to the rest of the narrative. There needs to be a few more intermediary bits of DRM between the simultaneous user error and the chip in the head bits.

Also, Steve and Marco are too similar as written. I need to write in personal ticks to differentiate them in speech.

Otherwise, I think it mostly works. I like the recurring gags and the overall feel of the story. There's a decent variety of different types of comedy in it. It needs to be slightly more meta and there needs to be a firmer statement at the end about the inherent ridiculousness of building fences to protect imaginary property, but overall it was fun.

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