06 Feb

I was going to write about my story and the myriad hangups I’m still having with it, and realized that it fits in quite neatly with my writing inspirations. For many many years, I pretty much only had one writer that I modeled my writing after: the inimitable Douglas Adams. My writing was always a poor-man’s version, but I do think I at least embodied the silliness that he did, without ever lapsing into non-sequitur for non-sequitur’s sake (excluding The Unusual Suspects.)

Tangent: how is it that myriad can be a noun and an adjective, meaning exactly the same thing in either fprm? Seems like a waste of a word.

Anyway, back on track. Like my musical influences (for years, it was just Danny Elfman, but now I’ve dabbled in bits of many other artists), I feel like I’m borrowing stylistic choices from a wider range of authors. But February’s story in particular I’ve been taking my love of Jasper Fforde very far. And perhaps that’s why it’s not working. (Aaron, you’re good to read so far, but I’ll tell you when to buzz off.)

In a recent book of his, Shades of Grey, he created a world that is wholly different than our own. I reviewed this briefly in my best books of 2011 post. What I loved about it is the freedom he creates with this world, and particularly that he doesn’t spend the first quarter of the book explaining all the differences. He simply immerses you in the world with little explanation, and gives context only in bits and pieces where it is essential. I love that idea. However, I’m finding that that idea may not work well in a 5000 word story.


I found out that Roosevelt was shot shortly before giving a speech (long after he was President). Not only did he continue with the speech as planned, blood seeping onto his shirt, but he lived the rest of his life with the bullet still in him. I think that’s the perfect jumping off point for my story – it’s too good a bit of trivia not to use. So what do I come up with?

This really complex world, around 2222 AD. There’s a strange hierarchy, not unlike the chromatica of Shades of Grey, where those in ‘more important’ professions are assigned higher greek letters – the main character is a Gamma, and her apprentice is a Lambda. Information is disseminated on a must-needs basis as you get lower. So what professions are higher? Well, those that have to do with the preservation of history. This is because of The Eradication. A single day where some organization calculatedly destroyed all history – blowing up museums, large private collections. They did this, of course, to make everything more valuable. Then, going back in time (oh yeah, they can do that), they’re able to re-obtain the important historical artifacts and sell them. I LOVE these ideas. However, there are three issues:

– It’s massively complex for a short story. I don’t think I’ll really get to flesh any of this out. Which is a shame because I love the idea of The Eradication.
– If all history was eradicated, it shouldn’t really affect the bullet, which nobody ever retrieved anyway. It’s not like it was an artifact that was in a museum. Unless this same organization also exhumed and destroyed famous bodies, which is a stretch…
– It’s not really the funny story I thought it would be.

So I think I’m going to start over once again. I think the bullet is still going to be the focal point of the story, but I don’t know how it’s going to happen now. Maybe I’ll steal from Inner Space and have someone shrink themselves to remove the bullet. Maybe a teddy bear. Crap, this month is kicking my ass.

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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in derek's writing


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