February 19, 2017

WRITING ADVICE: Can This Story Be SAVED? #10 “Keo Dandelion Seed” (Submitted 3 Times Since 2012, Never Revised until now…)

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:
Not even I’M certain…I suppose “What we eliminate today may end up saving us tomorrow”????

Elevator Pitch (What Did I Think I Was Trying To Say?)
I thought I was saying that while I understand WHY we actively destroy weeds – things like crabgrass, dandelions, hawkweed, and others – what if it turns out that plants we call invasives actually strengthen the domesticated/agricultural plants and our meddling might come back to bite us someday.

Opening Line:
“Chuck Kay kicked a clod of root-bound soil at his younger brother.”

The rest of the story is a riff off of the classic Bible story, “Cain & Abel”. Chuck (Cain), the older is irresponsible and despite the fact that it’s not legal, grows marijuana. He’s the “evil” brother. It so happens in this story that DAD is evil, too. Keo (Abel) being the “good’ brother and doing what he’s supposed to do – cultivating select beneficial invasive seeds for spreading as current cash crop plants are dying under the assault of newer and more adaptable pests and invasives – and is also the butt of Chuck’s cruelty and derision.

What Was I Trying To Say?
Like I said, I was writing for a contest; several years ago. My technique wasn’t well-sharpened then. I iterated what I thought I was trying to say above and only want to add that I still think it’s true. Strict evolutionists would say that by removing competition for resources, we are weakening a species; removing the drive for the “survival of the fittest”. Agronomists call it plant competition and instead of simply spraying the weeds away as we’ve done for a long time, there are new methodologies being brought to bear.

The Rest of the Story:
They get into a fight and Chuck is arrested – as was Dad and taken to work in the Vertical Villages and on an asteroid. But before they take Chuck away, Keo is “executed” for the benefit of his family’s opinion and recruited into the invasive seeding program by a robot. While the reader doesn’t know who the robot is, I do. It’s been in a number of stories I’ve written…just never published. Its name is Lagos…

End Analysis:
I tried something here that was perhaps bigger than what I wanted to do. I involved Dad, Lagos, and other external factors when I should have kept the conflict to Chuck and Keo and let it play out between them. With flash fiction – which this was intended to be – the fewer the characters the better. I’ve been tweeting lately that the number of characters has to be limited. In fact I’ve repeatedly done so for the last SIX writing advice Tweets (https://twitter.com/gstewart75?lang=en) and then ignored my own advice!

Can This Story Be Saved?

HOWEVER (listen, Guy!) you can’t let it get out of control! Keep the writing tighter than you usually do, drop Dad and Lagos and just let it be between Keo and Chuck. Oh, and don’t change their names from full, Laotian names to American adopted names! Ugh! The first paragraph makes it seem like there are a dozen characters and the reader has NO idea what’s going on!

To work then, and submission immediately afterward.

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