I am often sloppy when I write. I don't worry about grammar or exactly the right word. Transiting from the beginning, through the middle, to the end is the goal. The easiest way to get bogged down in the story is to start editing before the ending.
Now, I will admit, I have never achieve purity in that goal. I look back at times, especially when a character does or says something that I never planned in the beginning, or considered when I ask myself the most important question in writing, "So what happens next?"
But that sloppiness comes at a price.
My biggest weakness as a writer used to be finishing the damned thing. Now, it is the work of reading through and rewriting and editing for the just the right word, and making the grammar as perfect as I can make it.
That is what I work on now.
Now that I've written it right, the challenge is getting it right.
Yesterday, I wrote about my next short story project. I thought it "Nonesuch" was pretty good idea with its future setting in human colonies in the Ort Cloud.
But you never know what your will write until you write it. I tried three beginnings. They weren't bad, but they were distant. The best was this"
"Ilah floated with the other children, tethered like helium balloons to rings in the floor while professor H'jal maneuvered his long thin body with tiny spurts of air jets to the podium in the center of the class. "One of you is a nonesuch." He said, while he went about the business of anchoring himself to the podium."
It isn't bad, but my mind just did not want to go that way. So, I let my fingers do the typing on my keyboard, (nod of the head to an old Yellow Pages commercial), and wrote a 500 word mini scene of "Renaissance Punk" story. It isn't Steampunk, because the story is set in 1740, before steam came into use. It involves Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, a minor alchemist and mathematician acquainted in his youth with Isaac Newton. Among other things, he came up with a very different law of gravity and invented a means to use Jewels in watches and other windup devices. The protagonist, is a ten year old girl, who also happens to be an Homunculus. There is a windup automaton name Clebold, and the heavies are two men who are part of the "Caminards" (one of them a sort of Frankenstein Gollum). I followed that mini-scene with a basic outline of the story.
As stated, this wasn't the story I intended to write. It is the one came out of the place where stories come from.
Dreaming Robot Press is another of those small press outfits that publish anthologies. They have an open call for science fictions stories, ages 9-11. Their reading period is between June 1st and August 31st. I've decided that this is my next short story project.
In the past, I've tried to write juveniles, and they ended up adult stories with Children protagonists, somewhere between King's "It" and Gaiman's "The Ocean at the End of the Lane." (I highly recommend both novels, by the way.)
I think it is time I wrote a juvenile that ends up as a juvenile. My idea is just a working title, "Nonesuch."
Nonesuch is defined as "a person or thing that is regarded as perfect or excellent." The main character will be a 10 year old girl who doesn't consider herself anything like that. It take place about 150 years in the future, in Ort Cloud. It will clock in between 3000 and 6000 words. It should take, oh, 4 or 5 days to write.
It's one of those mornings
When I realize I have walked
Two miles down a one mile long road
In the wrong direction.
I know there's a way
To return to the path
To where I am going
But I am out here, exposed
In a big dark forest
And no sign post in sight.
My choices are
Sit on ass and wail at the world
Throw up my hands, and
Walk with no goal
Or make my own sign post.
This Is My Way
Follow At Your Own Risk.
I'll take the last
And hope old Frost
Wasn't blowing smoke
About that road not taken.
© M. Frank Darbe
Contrary to popular opinion, there is not this wonderful weird world like Wonderland or Neverland that writers get to through the use of really good drugs, or drinking, or from epileptic seizures. No, we just see something, and "Wham!" it hits you.
This Idea came form Business Insider. One of those little stories you click through, this one being about science misconceptions.
"Goldfish actually have pretty good memories. They can remember things for months, not seconds like most people say."
I thought, what if the only witness to a murder was goldfish, and this scientist conceived a way of getting into its mind.
I suppose you call that creativity. It isn't a place, it is just the ability to look at something and say, what if.
Invasion of the Spiderbots
I have a lot of short stories laying around, more than a hundred. A lot of them I wrote and submitted once or twice, and then moved on to other stories.
Tonight, on a quick visit to Facebook, one of my Facebook friends and real world acquaintances, John Oliver, wrote the following short post.
Been a busy evening of submitting my short fiction back out into the ether. It feels good to get them back out there.
That brought to mind the advice of the Great Robert Heinlein. These rules can be found in many places on the Internet (the world's greatest source of useful and useless information as well as the single greatest tool for procrastinators and time-wasters). This link to Robert J. Sawyer's take on those rules is a great one. Though all of Heinlein's rules should be revisited regularly by any writer, the two most relevant to this post are "Rule Four: You Must Put Your Story on the Market" and "Rule Five: You Must Keep it on the Market until it has Sold."
So tomorrow, I will, briefly, ignore "Rule Three: You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order," because that rule seemed to have righteously pissed off many creative writing and English teachers, and I wrote some of these stories a long time ago and they need a small amount of editorial attention. The goal is to pull out, edit, and submit at least one short story a day until all 100+ are circulating.
The Kitchen Boy's Tale, (sucky title, I know, it is a working title) was going well until the last 1800+ words, when I changed point of view to the villain of the piece in what should have been 1000 words, at most. AT 1800+ I realized that I had fumbled along with mostly inactive prose and without even getting to the point that I wanted in that chapter. Don't get me wrong, I like what I did, to a point. The villain is obviously villain, but I also managed to make him a sympathetic character with real reasons for doing what he does. I like the idea of villains that see themselves as a heroes. Certainly, there is room in stories for unrepentant bastards, or Sauron-like evil creatures that have zero redeeming qualities and guide things from a distance. I don't care to write them, of course, but I can see a point to them.
So I have to do the difficult thing and rewrite that section. The other stuff will go into my file of "stuff that didn't work." I do not cut those written words, or print them, wad them up, and toss it into the trash. Some of that stuff may creep into other parts of the novel. I may use it in a different story, later. I don't consider it bad, per se. It just doesn't work.
So here I go. The next thing you hear from me is the quiet click of my fingers killing the keyboard, one letter at a time.