Sunday, July 14, 2019

Idea Anatomy

I've had two stories published lately, Traveling By Starlight:  A Journey of Two Ways, and Before Their Time, and I wanted to talk about where the ideas came from.  Since the respective magazines are both for-purchase, and Outposts of Beyond - where the latter story can be found - is in print and it would take a few days to get to you, I'll keep this post spoiler-free.

So Traveling By Starlight:  A Journey of Two Ways was originally written for a monthly challenge.  The prompt was one I suggested, to write a story with alternate endings, so of course I felt obliged to jump in.  Just because I'm me, I always feel obliged to add an additional challenge.  In this case, I wanted to design the endings so they changed elements of the preceding story.  That meant including details which could be interpreted in two different ways ... and led to me Googling "foods aliens eat."  Which wasn't terribly helpful.

Before Their Time was also written from a prompt on a different site, though I no longer remember what it was.  I'm sure, though, that I interpreted it in the most convoluted way possible.  The story follows a time mage and her bodyguard who travel back in time to find the cure for a plague and end up in the wrong era.  I took a bit to mull over what kind of magic her companion specialized in, settling on fire and light.  Flame is perhaps a cliche choice for a battle mage, but the possibilities of light gave me some more unusual options.

I had so much fun with these characters, I went on to write other stories about them.  In grand tradition of time travel, I wrote them out of sequence, everything from the moment they met to later adventures.  I made a point of establishing the two as firm friends with no sexual tension; one or the other is usually in a relationship.  I also set up some of the rules of time travel, including the fact that any time spent in the past is "lost" - a week in the past becomes a week in the future - and that the future can't be changed, or the consequences could unmake the world ... or is that true?

Hopefully, more of these tales will see print.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Wednesday Wanderings

So I've been working on the query and synopsis for Unnatural Causes, which I've asked a few folks to read and critique, and that's made me realize that one of my natural tendencies as a person causes problems when it comes to my writing.

I've mentioned before on this blog that, while some people label with words or visuals - for instance, "my house" or visualizing that building - I tend to store and access information by feel.  My memory hooks are visceral.

How that plays into my writing is that I often have a clear sense of character behavior, plot arc, or story mood, and can maintain it consistently throughout.  This serves me in good stead when I'm editing, too, as even if I can't put my finger on why I should change something, I can feel that it's necessary and it works. 

Ask me to describe what I've created, though, and I dissolve into gibbering.  It's not a matter of distilling thousands of words into a few; it's a matter of translating a physical murmur into a completely different language.  It's one of the things, I think, that makes me particularly frustrated by the querying process.  Many of the tools I use for writing stories are useless for queries.  So why should one depend on the other?

Familiar complaints for any writer, of course.  I can take some consolation in knowing a source of difficulty for me personally, though.  ... some.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Traveling By Starlight: A Journey of Two Ways ... now available!

It's out!  The Summer issue of The Colored Lens is now available, containing my "Traveling By Starlight:  A Journey of Two Ways."  Check it out.

This story involves alternate endings.  Watch closely ...