One to the finish line, the other to the recycle bin.
So far this month I have managed to finish up my short story for the Blizzard Writing Contest. It’s quite interesting (and challenging) to write in someone else’s world. I’ve tried it once before; back when I was playing WoW I wrote a short story about Arena PvP. It only really struck me when I was writing my competition entry that I had taken a wrong turn back with that first story.
While there’s a certain minimum amount of foreknowledge you can safely assume in the average reader of tie-in fiction, I made the mistake of overexpectation on the part of the reader. To anyone who didn’t play WoW, it might as well have been written in hieroglyphics. Granted, if you explained everything in a detailed and precise way, you’d be writing a manual and the core audience would fall asleep reading, so it turned out there were a lot of tweaks that had to be done to balance the writing.
Also, it’s pretty tough trying to be original. Some of the stuff that happens in my story just doesn’t happen in the game it is based on. I wanted something that would have an authentic feel to the Universe it was based on, but I wanted it to be more than just a re-tread of something you might have seen if you played it. So I took some liberties. The reasons they can happen get explained, but I can imagine a real hardcore fan might tut in disapproval reading it nonetheless.
Also this week I finished editing a Steampunk story, which is not getting sent anywhere. I wrote it, edited it, scrapped it, re-wrote it, edited that until I was sick of the sight of it, and in the end I have to say I don’t think it’s strong enough. It’s annoying, because I started out with a good idea – the difficulties a female inventor would face in the Age of Steam – and as I worked away on it I discovered it was much, much harder to say what I wanted to within the constraints of my word limit.
It’s not that what I’ve come up with is particularly bad. At some points, it’s about as good as my writing gets. It’s just that taken as a whole I don’t think it stands well as a short story. It feels like a fragment of something longer, and – havign considered the idea of writing something longer with it – it probably wouldn’t make the final cut.
The recycle bin isn’t really where it’s going, though. It’ll get filed, along with everything else that doesn’t quite work, and maybe parts of it will come back in something else.
I may kill my darlings, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to waste the dismembered parts they leave behind.
Picture of a flower – I’m not sure what type. Sweden, 2011