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.
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.
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