Writing Update

I’m back in the saddle of writing, though having to pace myself — class preparation needs time, and I’m trying not to shove it aside completely just because I’m on a roll… though I may finish my (re)draft of Solvjangyi’s Christmas Wish tonight, perhaps. (We’ll see if the roll holds out that long.)

I’m currently at 4900 words out of a projected 5000 words, and I’m at the very outset of the end of the story. It’ll probably work out to 6000 words of draft, in fact, but with some judicious editing and reworking, I should be able to get it down to 5000 words, or maybe even less.

I’m quite pleased about the workarounds I used to compress the story. For one thing, the original version of the story used an epistolary mode, meaning it was a long letter written by the protagonist/narrator, and he was able to blather on and on about history. As length was a concern, and as the original story seemed a little more, well, preachy, I decided to make the political stuff more of a backstory thing, meaning it’d be something I’d spend a lot less wordage on, and imply as much of as possible. Well, I finally ended up using an artifact the spin out in a couple of pages — pages on which character -interaction and -building is also happening, and tension is rising and falling — instead of in many long pages spent on a protagonist’s litany of bad things that happened.

One thing I’m definitely going to have to go back and rework is the dialogue. The majority of my characters aren’t human, and I have this specific idea about how to stylize their speech. In the original, the characters all spoke (aloud) in two-word sentences or phrases. But when almost all of your characters are doing this, it gets a little boring. I’ve got a different approach for stylizing their speech which makes it sound very not-human, and yet also makes it more readable. We’ll see how that works out.

This nasty Xmas story aside, the other project I’m working on is “A Killing in Burma” though right now, “working on” means mostly thinking about. I set the story during a time of political upheaval, but I missed some potentially interesting things. Reading about times of political upheaval in Korea, in Michael Breen’s The Koreans, gave me a couple of ideas of neat characters I could work in, as well as potential complications to the situation I’ve built up. It’s very odd when you find yourself rooting for the antagonists in your story, whose goals are loftier than the aspirations of your protagonists or, at least, the aspirations of the characters closely allied with your protagonists. Which tells me what’s going to happen in the plot is likely to be a turncoat situation. Or something more complicated still, perhaps.

But I do need to do some more reading about Burma, and happily, I have the Lonely Planet Myanmar book on hand from the Uni library.  It’s not optimal — real experience there would be better — but it’s better than nothing.

The unfortunate thing is that the technology central to my story is one everyone’s written about, the fabber machine. (Everyone being Cory Doctorow and Bruce Sterling — whose neat tale “The Kiosk” I am reading right at the moment — as well as who-knows-how-many-others.) However, I’m hoping my take on how this technology plays out in the situation I’ve set up is unique enough to be interesting. The next best thing would be a unique take on the technology, but I haven’t thought of anything too crazy yet in that direction. We’ll see what my evil little brain cooks up in the next while, though.

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