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.
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