Monday, October 21, 2013

Hard-boiled

As I mentioned in the last post, this was a fun story. It's set in the same universe as the two Down And Out Stories ("Down And Out In The Jungle Of Death" and "The Multiplicity Of Xen"), but things, uh, happen in it. It's not all people hanging out in bars and telling lies to each other.

My original thought was to write a straight-up fantasy story, except with a hard-boiled slant to it. It was going to be a world-weary shop-owner who lives in a frontier town which is experiencing a boom of adventurers inflating the local economy. Some of that stuck around. Then my vast and deep antipathy for mainstream fantasy overtook me and it got sci-fi'ed, even though I was trying to deconstruct the fantasy a little and see if I could make it more interesting (to me, primarily, not just any putative readers who might stumble across it).

Problem is, I guess, that just about everybody who writes fantasy already does that, including a bunch of writers who are much better than yours truly.

Anyhow.

This is, more or less, a mystery story. Given that it's only six thousand words long, there ain't much mystery to be had, so I just tried to hit the high notes and called it good. It's also a first draft, so there's probably some howlers in there that I'm going to face-palm myself over when I get around to revisiting it (whenever).

Mysteries are odd to write. You have to come at them backwards. It's not like an action story or anything like that, where you can just tell yourself (and by extension, your readers) "and this happened, then this happened, then this happened..."

You have to start out with the end in mind and then work backwards.

I started out with the corpse. Imagined a gruesome and weird death. Then I asked myself what happened, worked my way backwards. With only six thousand words to play with, I could only have one other reasonable suspect, so made the other suspect the red herring. With only two suspects, I decided to make sure their motives were more-or-less similar, but contrasting. I think it worked out okay.

It's been a while since I had a dialogue heavy story, so I tried to build interaction into the characters more. I think Llerg and Neah have a good dynamic. The chameleon with Tourette's was a bit of surprise. Some of his curse-words aren't necessarily in English, because he's a cosmopolitan type of lizard.

I generally like writing mystery more than I like reading it (which I do like). The thing I like about writing mysteries is that the plot drives itself forward very easily. Lot of hooks in the genre and you usually never have any problems figuring out where to go next with the story.

Not sure yet what I'm going to write this week. Weekend doesn't look particularly busy (yet), so I'll probably have slightly more free time than usual. Maybe I'll write something longer. My word count is ca 220k just from the stories alone for this year; 285k including blog updates. Think I'll push for at least 250k for stories and 300k+ for stories + blog updates. Nice round number, I think. I also need to come up with a doable but challenging novel-related resolution for next year, still.

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