August 7, 2016

WRITING ADVICE: Can This Story Be SAVED? #2 “With Stars and Stones His Only Witness” (Submitted 8 Times Since 2008, Revised)

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: As we age, we often discover that the dreams we once had for our future have changed into someone else’s reality.

Elevator Pitch (What Did I Think I Was Trying To Say?): What if the last of the original Moon colonists had watched the dream of an impartial, focused research-oriented science society morph into a haven for the elderly, the entertainment industry, and extreme sports enthusiasts – and the last vestige of the dream is about to be lost forever?

Opening Line: “I’ve always loved the seven-and-a-half meter-tall Lunar giraffes.”

Onward: Montrose Dylan is the last of the original Lunar colonists and a system-wide news service has assigned a reporter to follow him until he dies. Ana Perez has come to be a sort of “great-niece” to him.

What Was I Trying To Say? Like I said above, this is a sort of “my story”. When I was a kid, I had strong hopes that we’d have colonies on the Moon and a strong space program. I believed that space travel would be commonplace and that everyone else would be excited about it. Obviously, I don’t live in the future I’d hoped for. Dylan doesn’t life there, either. How does he react? How would I react if I was in his spacesuit?

The Rest of the Story: After they travel half-way around the Moon to the inoperative Far Array, Ana is badly injured in an accident that is a direct result of the fact that even though she’s a natural-born Lunite, she’s totally unfamiliar with how to behave on the surface. You may find that unbelievable, but I live in a state that has 10,000 lakes and over 12000 bodies of water all together – and whose eastern border is mostly rivers and Lake Superior... You might assume that with that much water around, EVERYONE would learn how to swim. Your assumption would have made you look the fool because over a hundred Minnesotans drowned last year.

Dylan goes into a trench he helped dig and is badly injured. Trying to rescue her – and pretty sure she’s dead – he has a heart attack at the bottom of the trench with her. The story ends with everything around him fading into darkness – and the stars and stones his final and only witness…

End Analysis: Everything about the story is fine. It’s executed well, coherent, and gripping. But the subject is negative – totally excluding sciencey magazines like ANALOG, LIGHTSPEED, and CLARKESWORLD. Even ASIMOV’S. It’s just too…horrifying. In its own way, it’s as creepy as the Borg of Star Trek are. It represents not the “worst” Humans can do, rather it’s too much like real life – where the compromises we make for convenience-sake and because the alternative is too hard, deliver us to a very ordinary, prosaic, and absolutely NON-heroic future.

Can This Story Be Saved?: Only if I change the ending, let Dylan save Ana or Ana save Dylan, and have them pontificate about ways to change Lunar Society…which wouldn’t happen. So the answer to this one is: “No. There’s no way to save this story and still remain true to my message.”

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