Sometimes, progress in drafting a story isn’t immediately visible by wordcount changes.
For example, while I’m mulling on what kind of bright-shiny-cool future to write about for Jetse, I’m working on tying up the loose end which was, until recently, what the hell to do with that short story I’ve been working on, off-and-on, since December, titled “Ten Spikes and a Hammer.” (An alternate history where East-Asian geomancy actually is a kind of proto-science and manipulation of geomantic energies warfare becomes massively important during World War II.)
The concept was cool, and spinning off very tense scenes in the war was easy, but there was something missing. I knew who was narrating (since it’s in first person, that’s a snap.) I knew the narrator was at some remove in time from his own experiences, and I wasn’t sure why he was narrating the story.
And answering those latter two questions fixed all my problems. Suddenly, it was a case of how the old conflict interleaves with the conflict in his present life, postwar. It’s not a snap, but it is coming together a lot better now.
Another thing that’s cool is how the old man speaks. I have been reading a little Raymond Chandler, just bits and pieces occasionally, and some Dashiell Hammet short stories, plus thumbing through the wonderful collection of idioms, “Straight From the Fridge, Dad!” by Max Décharné, and from all of this, the old bugger (Benson is his name) is finally getting something of a voice that reflects not only his old crotchey contemporary self, but also some of the man he once was — which is important, I think.
So anyway, it’s coming together. It might end up more than 4,000 words — sadly, as I was hoping this might be something I could send to Clarkesworld — but anyway, I’ll write it the length it needs to be. I’m just glad things are moving again… just in time for me to need to go to bed, because I have an early start tomorrow.
I need to do a little more research about Operation Downfall, which in my own story is instead “Operation Wind and Water” — because it depends on some serious, brutal feng shui on the nation’s energy flows. The tradeoff is long-term geomantic suppression and occupation, instead of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in our own history. (I’m not sure which is worse, but it’s not really about that whole question anwyay. It’s more about how experiences in our lives change us, and how sometimes painful and distasteful changes make us see things simultaneously more and less clearly than we were able to see them before.)
At least, that’s what the story has mumbled at me. Maybe to shut me up while it does its work? I don’t know… I’ll have more to say later.