Print Story April Oak
By Kellnerin (Mon May 15, 2006 at 10:43:02 AM EST) (all tags)
Below the fold, the writer's commentary on "The Man in the 20th-Century House." All are welcome to throw sharp objects (at the text, not at me), make suggestions for the better ending that the story so desperately needs, or take issue with my critiques of the other stories in the WFC.

Well, that was fun -- both the excuse for writing and the chance to read all the other entries. Thanks, ana, for getting it started, and to 256 for making all the entries accessible. My file format issues were my own damn fault, and thanks again to gazbo for sorting that out so people could actually read the thing.

I drew a complete blank as far as story ideas for this challenge, though I was slowly accumulating assorted thoughts that I wanted to work into some story eventually:

  • A character with the given name of Phenom (who naturally wouldn't be at all suited to the name) -- the plus side of this was that his nickname didn't trip my spellcheck.
  • "violent glass," courtesy of an excellent typo in a manuscript I was reading -- the original context was "an Impressionist building of viole[n]t glass," and when I first read it I thought, "wouldn't it make more sense to be a Surrealist building?" I know it doesn't make any sense but I was taken by it and it was beyond my ability to make any more sense out of it than I did.
  • the phrase of dubious cleverness, "a metric Warhol of soup cans" -- that suggested the whole emergency shelter/mystery door thing.
The careful reader will observe that these concepts include no Little People and no one named Ed Hulver, but if I had waited for more coherent or relevant inspiration, I'd never have written anything, so I decided not to let that stand in my way.

Anyway, I agree with yicky yacky that the story falls off after they go underground, and also with persimmon and aphrael that it gets even worse in the last few paragraphs. I was building up to some kind of Significant Encounter or confrontation but didn't have anything thought out well enough to carry it off. I didn't like the ending I used but there I was, with 500 words to go, and I had nuh-fing.

In fact, I couldn't say why I went with vampires at all, but D has a theory that we'd caught part of The Lost Boys on TV recently and I'd internalized the best line of the movie, which was of course after Grandpa comes in and saves the day: "One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach," he says while reaching for a beer, "all the damn vampires." I have to admit my last sentence has something of the same cadence (which was not consciously intended), and in that respect it's fine as a closing, it just has nothing to do with the story it's attached to. Not to mention that the line works better in the movie on just about every level.

I should have jettisoned the canned goods jokes that didn't at all fit with the tone of what had gone before, and come up with something else, especially since I failed spectacularly to seize the opportunity to make a monocle joke and a top hat joke at the same time. I'm afraid that chance is gone forever since there are only so many times one can go to the Mister Peanut well, and I've probably already gone one too many. (By contrast, I admired toxicfur's taking full advantage of the opportunity to use the phrase "kangaroo ass.")

I did have a vague thought that what they'd find below was a warren of tunnels and chambers that housed a whole community of people, all of them shorter than Nom but perhaps not as drastically shorter as the Ed Hulver I wrote. Nom and Lexa would meet a different mysterious figure, who turns out to be Fred Hulver, son of Red, son of Ed (continuing the slide into utter silliness that happens when I have no actual ideas). But what they were all about, and how that would relate to Nom's story, I had no clue.

The thing was that it was hard to introduce any major plot elements at this point since it's more than halfway through, and if I plunged into something new it'd make you wonder why the story started where it did. But I liked what I had written too much to cut it further (I'd already scrapped an earlier, mostly atmospheric opening that was much more sullen in mood than how the story turned out). Which means that the fundamental problem was that I started writing the wrong story. I like to think that it had its moments, but not for this challenge.

So in summary, it wasn't a story about Ed Hulver or the Little People and I never quite managed to get it there (or anywhere, really); the tone of the story shifted too often and too widely; and it's harder than I thought to write a menacing character who's four feet tall. But I'm glad that some of you enjoyed reading (at least most of) the story. Thanks.

< [Redacted] | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
April Oak | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
It really is cool by ana (4.00 / 2) #1 Mon May 15, 2006 at 11:06:05 AM EST
getting a peek into everybody else's creative process. Thanks for sharing this.

Can you introspect out loud? --CRwM

my pleasure by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon May 15, 2006 at 07:00:20 PM EST
It's been fun reading everyone else's commentary as well. Thanks for reading, both the original story and the rambling that followed.

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."
[ Parent ]
I dug it. by blixco (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon May 15, 2006 at 11:51:29 AM EST
I was pretty sure it was you, but not 100 percent sure.  Anyhow: well done!
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco
thanks! by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon May 15, 2006 at 07:05:48 PM EST
I suspected yours was yours, but was never very sure about it. It was more subdued than the stereotypical blix fare, but it was good stuff.

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."
[ Parent ]
I Though You Had One of the Better Titles. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon May 15, 2006 at 11:53:50 AM EST
I'm also even more impressed with your writing now that you've stated you basically retooled an idea that didn't even come close to filling the required specs. When reading it, I never felt like it was out-to-sea.

in retrospect by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon May 15, 2006 at 07:17:46 PM EST
the title is one of the parts I like the most.

I'm glad that you felt it hung together somewhat, because when you made the case for using leprechauns rather than having readers wonder how the story is going to fit the theme, I heard this parenthetical, "and I'm looking at you, 'The Man in the 20th-Century House.'" And you would have had a point, because I was wondering the same thing myself while writing the thing. What's the saying? "Close counts in horseshoes and WFCs."

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."

[ Parent ]
April Oak | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback