Tuesday, June 27, 2017

To Hell on a Handcar

After writing my last post, I did in fact play a lot of Minecraft. What I can tell you about spending most of your time underground is that you really lose track of time. There's no day, no night, only artificial light. Then you come above ground and you're surprised to find it's dark out, because it's always light where you've been. It's disorienting. I don't know if that's going to have any bearing on this next story, but it's certainly something to consider.

Now, in addition to digging all those tunnels, as I do, I've been laying rails. Minecarts. Transport. All that. So there's that railroad. Then I've just finished that story that starts on a train. And I'm nearly through Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, which is about, you guessed it, trains. So I have trains on the brain. And I had a thought for the introduction of my main character, occult detective, who still doesn't have a name. And wouldn't you know it, it involves a train.

Imagine this: the story opens on some… something… happening, deep underground. A murder. A mysterious shadow in the dimly lit tunnels. I don't know. It's the teaser before the opening credits, if you will. We leave that unresolved a cut to our hero, on a train from somewhere. Maybe he's on his way back from his last job. He's about to be recruited by Miss DeWitt, on a mission of utmost importance.

That's the kind of things I have for this story. These little fragments. I just haven't managed to stitch them together. What is the mission? Why are his skills in the occult required? Why a train? (Hint: it's because I like trains.)

I have until Saturday to get a clue as to what's going on here. Then I have to throw myself in and hope for the best. And what am I doing instead of sitting down for a good long think on the subject? Literally anything else. I don't know why I'm avoiding it. I want to write it. Or maybe I want to have written it. Without all the work in between. *sigh* But I'm going to do it. My last story turned out reasonably well, and it's time I try to repeat that performance.

Isn't that a science thing? To prove something you have to replicate the results, to show that it wasn't just a fluke? That sounds like a science thing. Yes, I went to school. No, not for science.

Anyway, I need to get this story on track (Ha! Trains!) before July hits. Right now it's not even just different cars to string together, some of the cars are in different railyards, and some of them are in pieces. At least one is just a wheel. This is what happens when you start with something as broad as "genre" and try to pull it all in to the details. Usually I start with a plot or a character and work my way out. This is all the wrong order.

But that could be a good thing.

Call it outside the box thinking. It's looking at the problem from a different angle. Instead of looking up through the eye of the storm, we've got satellite storm coverage, and this story's about to make landfall. Sometimes I make amazing metaphors and just have to stand back and be impressed with myself. Come. Let's be impressed together.

Okay, moving on.

Maybe by seeing all the disparate angles can help me finally unlock that omniscient narrator. He knows what's going on. (As I've said before, I don't know what the faceless narrator is a "he." It just is.) The incident in the Lower World. The man on the train. The explorer's daughter. What's become of Old Professor DeWitt, anyway? What did they find when they dug too deep? What lives in that eternal darkness? What is our boy going to do about it?

Now, I don't remember if I've said this before. I thought I had, but I can't find it, so maybe I imagined it. I have a thing about repeating ideas. Like, if I something once, I can never ever use anything like it ever again. And that's probably dumb, because it's not like anyone is going to read everything I ever write. So, my April Camp NaNo story involved a guy with psychometry that was brought on by head trauma. He had brain damage that gave him psychic powers. And now everything in my brain is telling me that this new story is wandering too close to that, and my mysterious dude with his mysterious skills is just a rehash of that concept.

But is that a bad thing? Can you tell me that no author ever has used a similar concept in more than one story? I mean, if I'm trying to find a genre to settle down in, shouldn't there be some common threads? Maybe troubled dudes with paranormal powers is my genre. Or maybe I'm running out of ideas.

So what do you think? Are trains cool? Can I finish plotting before July? Should every story be completely different and have nothing in common with any other story? Do I ask too many questions?

I'll see you Friday.

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever read any Charlaine Harris books? She has multiple series and several of them have a supernatural bent. Sookie Stackhouse series has vampires, werewolves, shifters, etc. But it starts with Sookie who is a telepath. Another series has someone who was once struck by lightening and now (if I remember right) can hear dead people and helps solves murders. There is another series that has something like that too. They are all a little different. They all have different characters and relationships, but they have a similar thread. And they are all good reads. She became successful on that. There is no reason not to use something that you gravitate towards. It seems to me, you might write it best.

    Also, trains are cool.