Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Witch has flown

Well, dropped "The Witch of Waxahachie' in the mail to GVG at F&SF today. Story came in at 6,371 words. I chatted briefly on the phone with Howard last night. I mentioned I felt good about the story and that I felt it was well written, because it dropped in word count as I finished it.
It's counter-intuitive to non-writers, but "real" writers know that after a point the longer you write the SHORTER a story should get, as you tweak and tighten it up.
Howard reminded me of Lew Shiner's Law, which is that a good story should drop down a category before it's finished, i.e. a novelette should turn into a novella, a novella should turn into a short story.
I've had the idea for the story that became "Witch" for years, but the biggest reason I never got around to starting it was that I thought it would take a whole book to write.
When I actually kicked the writing (on Sept. 8) I worried that I would have trouble bringing it in as a short story. Licked that problem, too.
I took the time to write a cover letter to Gordon - which I hardly ever do. But I wanted to explain that I might develop this into a series.
This is the first story I've finished in three months. The only story I finished up and sent off all summer - because of the job change, subsequent long commute, and then move - was "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes., which went to Sheila June 17.
Gardner once said the key to really establishing yourself as an up and coming writer is to produce a tightly written series of stories in a year in two set in an interesting universe of your creation. It seems to have worked for Charlie Stross.
When I first heard this advice, I despaired of finding my own formula, but with "Witch" I may have the key. The cast of characters - Penny Pennoyer, Larry Anglen, Doc Melancon, Brad Vavra, Deputy Joe and Sgt. Lucy - seem to be a bunch I can go to again and again.
The possibilities of developing ongoing series are there due to the setup of the "mirror worlds". The fact it's not straight fantasy (science, specifically the Super Collider, were needed to set up the connection between the two worlds) gives me more flexibility.
The tension and potential of having duplicated characters is obvious. Patricia said the scene where the two Sgt. Lucys have a dog fight between themselves was one of the things she remembers the most from the story.
And it was by having Sgt. Lucy be the only character from our world who actually meets her counterpart from the magical world in "Witch" gives me time and thought to the next logical development, which is: What will happen when the two Penny Pennoyers meet? (I already made a reference at the end of "Witch" to telling my 'two cents worth' when the two Pennys collide).
I also like the fact that it is obvious even from the limited references in "Witch' that our world's Penny Pennoyer is the bad one, and - counter-intuitively - the "Witch of Waxahachie" is a good character.
Patricia read the final manuscript last night, caught one typo. Like I said, dropped it in the mail today.
I also sent Stan Schmidt "Business as Usual" - my little take on zombies, feminism and rampant capitalism.
Howard is still finishing up his stories for CapClave. They made him sing for his supper as GOH by writing two novelettes which will be printed in the program.
I 'fessed up to Howard that I can't make the convention. I can't afford the time in the new job or the cost of airfare due to the fuel prices. I need to stay loser to home for the time being.
However, things for me are going to work out pretty good - my mom is coming to visit me thew middle two weeks of October, anyway.
Howard thought things sounded like they worked out.
He though the story for "Witch" sounded great, and he said it's one of the best story titles he ever heard (don't underestimate the value of a snappy title in the making of a story - I had the title first for "Rocket" and Dybbuk" before I had the stories). It's a common ploy among sci-fi writers.
I think I'm gonna forge ahead and do a story that follows right up behind "Witch' called "The Wizard of Boz". Let's see how long I can play this hand.

1 comment:

  1. Just found some interesting stuff on the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia film. "lion

    ReplyDelete

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"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place.

"Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " - Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

In a spare, swift, convincing narrative style, conveying in a deadpan voice a wide array of sometimes Paranoid suppositions about the world, Antonelli juxtaposes realities with very considerable skill, creating a variety of Alternate Worlds, some of them somewhat resembling the constructions of Howard Waldrop, and making some sharp points about American history, race relations, dreams, and occasional nightmares in which the twentieth century goes wrong. [JC]

---From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be.

Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act.

This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read.

Recommended.

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