Print Story Vivisection of my WFC entry
By toxicfur (Mon May 15, 2006 at 11:56:14 AM EST) (all tags)
'Cuz 2:03  ain't quite dead yet. I think.

I had to go back and read 2:03, since I hadn't really looked at it since I wrote it. The idea came in that moment before sleep, when reality splits into a thousand bright little bits behind my eyes. I saw a glowing kangaroo, its little muzzle poking out of a storm drain.

The image was still with me when I woke up, so I thought, "Hey, kangaroos can be metaphorical little people, so why not use that for my Ed Hulver story?" Unfortunately, I had no idea what the kangaroo was doing there, how Ed Hulver figured in, or what the hell was going on. Being me, I put off the story for weeks, and on the last day, decided I wasn't going to submit anything to the WFC.

Then there was the Toasted Cheese Sunday writing chat, hosted by ana and Kellnerin. The first prompt always involves using 5 words, and the 5 words, including "clock" and "agent" gave me the introduction. So there's this guy, sitting in a room, waiting for agents and looking at a clock. Hey! This guy could be Ed Hulver! The other two prompts were suitably vague - use 4 or more adjectives to describe something, and describe the emotion on someone's face.

Ed, now Edward (playing off the stereotype that gay men don't use shortened versions of their names), is finally emerging from his self-imposed hibernation, hoping for the best, when he finds the kangaroo and ends up in a situation he doesn't understand.  As I was writing the last third of the story, I went back (breaking the rules of the writing chat, but hey), and tried to add stuff about time throughout, but persimmon had a good point - what's the deal with the clock reading 2:03? The truth is that I have no idea. I was trying to show his simultaneous nervousness and boredom, and his obsession with the clock seemed a good way to do that. In my mind, the interview room was otherwise empty, though I don't think I explicitly said that. It could be that time is stretching out in his head, but it really is only a couple of minutes after the bar closed at 2:00. Maybe he's dead or unconscious (though I don't like these options - I hate stories that manipulate the reader like that).

I did want the whole story to be from Edward's POV, moving in and out of his thoughts and perceptions. I didn't want to do a first-person story, though, since those generally feel a bit forced to me (with some notable exceptions). I don't know if moving back and forth between 3rd and 1st person without using punctuation to indicate "Edward thought" actually works, though.

I stole the idea of the scent of blood from a bit of fanfic I read recently, and I was riffing on Neil Gaiman's best hangover description ever (in Anansi Boys) when I wrote the phrase "kangaroo ass." It really was too good of a phrase to pass up.

I had, and still have, no idea what the kangaroo is, who the agents are and why they care, or what's going to happen to Edward. As is usually the case, I have a much clearer image of Edward's backstory, what his relationship with Greg was like, what he does in his free time, and why he didn't go find a more happening bar to hang out in that fateful night. All of that stuff is fine in my head, but I don't think it belongs in this particular story, even though it's hard for me not to write it since it would be easy. This is where I always get stuck with fiction.

I do kind of want to finish the story. Questions, comments, critiques, suggestions are most welcome. Help!

< April Oak | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
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on time by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon May 15, 2006 at 06:56:53 PM EST
It didn't bother me for some reason. Maybe because so many other things weren't the way you'd expect (chief among them being the kangaroo), so why should time move as normal? There's the possibility it's all in his head (which "explains" the kangaroo) but maybe it's not. Maybe he's actually looking up to check the time at twelve-hour intervals and going on these weird mind-trips in his head that take longer than he thinks. Maybe the clock is just broken. Maybe the agents are trying to mess with his mind (that seems the most likely).

I get totally caught up in backstory myself, but I think that is what makes your characters so compelling. All the details don't need to be in the story explicitly, but Edward brings stuff like his love of his favorite jeans into the story, so it's not just "guy finds kangaroo, guy loses kangaroo, gets taken in by agents." Yours is more an Edward story than a glowing kangaroo story.

I thought the shifting between the voices was effectively done. I found it made it easier to go along with all the weirdness -- it's hard to separate what's in his head and what's objectively happening, so I was not quite sure what side of the line the events being described were on, but I wanted to believe it was real on some level (because I didn't want Edward to be completely out of his mind, poor guy). I laughed out loud when he was struggling to grasp what was happening, the "Glowing. In the storm drain." passages.

Tell ya what ... you help me figure out what's under the door in Nom's yard, and I'll help brainstorm what the deal is with the kangaroo and those darn agents.

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

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