In September of 2007, I started this blog with a bit of writing advice. A little over a year later, I discovered how little I knew about writing after hearing children’s writer, In April of 2014, I figured I’d gotten enough publications that I could share some of the things I did “right”. I’ll keep that up, but I’m running out of pro-published stories. I don’t write full-time, nor do I make enough money with my writing to live off of it, but someone pays for and publishes ten percent of what I write. Hemingway’s quote above will remain unchanged as I work to increase my writing output and sales, but I’m adding this new series of posts because I want to carefully look at what I’ve done WRONG and see if I can fix it. As always, your comments are welcome!
ANALOG Tag Line:
Given a hopeless life on an alien world, a dark past, and a strange ally, could Koti trick his way to a better future?
Elevator Pitch (What Did I Think I Was Trying To Say?)
Koti is a company slave on Enstad’s Planet as his mother and father were. She died, tricked by an alien into trying to fly again. After her death, the alien works with the boy to create a fulcrum to leverage the departure of Humanity and gives him the neural link taken from his mother so that he can fly again and take the rest of his kind with him.
“Koti Christofferson breathed deeply of humid brimstone and rot, then jumped half up the ladder. Bamboo wind chimes warding plague rattled under his feet as he scrambled up the thin plastic rungs.”
“If you don’t stay up there and keep an eye out for marshsharks, I’ll feed you to them myself, Monkeyboy!”
Koti laughed, and called, “You only own my hands and feet, Deck Master! I own my life!” He raced barefoot past the first flash vessel, mallet on his belt slapping against his thigh and orange nylon shorts. An instant later, the vessel blew a cloud of super-heated steam that flowed back along the harvester’s hull. Sliding head down the other side, Koti dropped onto the walkway sticking out a meter over the swamp. “I can see the ‘sharks better from here, Deck Master, and only I know how to scare them away!” he called, leaning over the side, dry reeds brushing his face.
“No tricks from you boy!” the man shouted. “You need to be…”
What Was I Trying To Say?
I wrote the story for a contest for CICADA. We were supposed to tell a “trickster” story; so I suppose my intent was to say that “Tricksters can live in any time, on any world.”
The Rest of the Story:
Lord-a-livin’ is this a mess!
The WORLD is the character of this story and it’s complex both sociologically and ecologically. I have life cycles, weird creatures, and a society that is made up of Indian Christians and Haitian and Louisiana voodoo believers…all done on purpose by an Earth government intent on eliminating faith in anything but Humanity…
I have technology: starships, neural implants, harvesters that collect organics from the vast marshlands of Enstad’s Planet – or Murr< as the aliens call their world – for processing into oil via thermal depolymerization which has had only spotty success in the US (most likely due to opposition from Big Oil, I’d say…*grin*)
I even have a story. Simplified: Alien creates tool to get Humans to leave its world, boy (aforementioned ‘tool’) wants a life off the mud ball he’s grown up on, his passport is the neural implant (incidentally dug from the skull of his dead mother…) which Alien uses to engineer the boy’s enemy, thereby getting him off world…
Like I said above, this is a mess.
On the other hand, it’s a mess because there’s so much here that I tried to cram into the tiny space of 7000 words.
Fump, the alien Murr< (which “was a purring ‘murr’ followed by a ‘ribbit’.”), killed Koti’s mother in order to get the neural implant which he gives to the boy. The intent is to persuade him to lead the exodus of Humans off their world…
As I was writing this article, and while this thing is a sorry mess, it’s NOT a sorry mess because I don’t have a story here. The story COULD become a novel about Koti in the same vein as Heinlein’s CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY (from Amazon.com: “In a distant galaxy, the atrocity of slavery was alive and well, and young Thorby was just another orphaned boy sold at auction. But his new owner, Baslim, is not the disabled beggar he appears to be: adopting Thorby as his son, he fights relentlessly as an abolitionist spy. When the authorities close in on Baslim, Thorby must ride with the Free Traders -- a league of merchant princes -- throughout the many worlds of a hostile galaxy, finding the courage to live by his wits and fight his way from society's lowest rung. But Thorby's destiny will be forever changed when he discovers the truth about his own identity....”)
Can This Story Be Saved?
How about this for the novel that this story, properly sliced, might be part of: Koti’s parents fled a pogrom on Mars aimed against Christians. She nearly died in a ship mutiny and they landed on Enstad’s Planet, where his mother gave up navigating Interspace “forever”, though she never powered down her computer-brain link. They made a hard – and anonymous life – together. Then her husband was badly injured. The company that owned the organics industry on the planet ran a “cash-only” medical care system. She borrowed to save his life, then he killed himself when he was to be handicapped on a “working world” forever. She owed a loan shark who sold her the cash. She tried to get back into space, but when she took the first step, she died and Koti only escaped the loan shark because he was taken in by an local alien. What he doesn’t know is that the alien engineered his mother’s death, created their relationship, then releasing him to take his mother’s place as a starship navigator. But HE understands aliens and when he has a chance to help with a Gwelch “invasion” of Enstad’s Planet, he does – with stunning consequences…
Ah! Now I know how to FIX the story. But it could be lots of work…I don’t know. The future will tell.