What am I doing here?
Posted September 17, 2010on:
I recently finished a short story, and have been trying to decide where to write next. I have a number of options: my latest Tarkas novel, about 1/3 done, or perhaps I should start the new story I had an idea for. (Someone asked about first lines in a blog somewhere, and I came up with ‘Aren’t you a little young to be raising the dead?’) Then I thought about doing more with a story idea I had for a contest some years back but never finished. I’d even had a directive of sorts from no less an authority than Tamora Pierce that it should be written. (She asked-demanded to know-when it was coming out, after I mentioned it in her hearing.)
So I’m thinking that maybe the idea deserves to be restored, polished, finished up. But of course there’s a reason why I never finished it in the first place.
At first I thought it was simply that I couldn’t do a story of this sort in the required space. I’ve blogged before about the difficulty of fitting a story into a given amount of words. I have noticed that my writing technique has a tendency to grow, and was worried that such a thing might happen here too. Except I didn’t worry really. I was feeling something similar, a sensation very much like trying to see where my characters were going. The problem was that in this case they weren’t going anywhere.
It’s not as if Timothy was made too perfect by mistake. He was made that way on purpose. The story requires him to be that way for a specific reason. As we all know, perfect characters suck. They’re dull. And it took me all this time to realize that, probably because of all the blogs I’ve been reading about dull perfect characters, all over the web. Once I started thinking about the story again, I realized the truth pretty quickly. The surrounding characters are much more colorful.
James shrugged. “I never claimed I was a wise man. At least Lancelot got the girl.”
Timothy raised a brow. “An interesting choice of metaphor, James,” he said, carefully not getting the door. “Are you claiming his courage or his adultery?”
James sighed. “At least one of them.”
“I shan’t ask which,” said Timothy, opening the door. “Provided you do not cast me in any part. I am unworthy of such honors.”
That wasn’t what the reports said, quite the reverse. James shrugged. “If you say so.” Then he had a grisly thought. “I can’t imagine Jones as Arthur, anyway.”
“I heard that,” said Captain Jones from behind them.
“Sorry, Captain,” said James automatically.
“Don’t be. He may have been king, but his life sucked.”
Galahads find grails, but they don’t get the girl, even in a Monty Python sketch. I think retelling the story from James/Lancelot’s POV will be much more the thing.
Have you ever had a story that didn’t speak to you? What was wrong and what did you do about it?