Friday, October 09, 2009

Any Storm in a Port

This time things are going to be different. It’s what I do, it’s the way I write. My only rule, and I’ve said it a thousand times, is “Never repeat yourself!”

Consider, for example, the story that was released last month by Echelon Shorts (‘Chasing His Own Tale’, read about it here) as compared with the story that is being released this month, which I call ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, mainly because, well, that’s the title. ‘Chasing His Own Tale’ began with a dark and stormy night. ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ starts with a…um…

Okay, different example: ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ began with a contest, held by a very nice little convention out in Pittsburgh called Confluence. Every year they have a contest for a story to be published in their convention guide, and the contest has a theme. The year I discovered it, the theme was ‘Hard Port’. Any interpretation of those words was a good one, but the story had to include them somewhere. As you can imagine, the story does not progress in a straightforward fashion. No book written by me does, but this story really fed into my tendency to take an idea and go off thattaway with it. Cybernetics. Seamanship. (You know, ‘port’ means left, ’starboard’ means right, that sort of thing.) (No, I don’t know where ’starboard’ comes from.) Wine. Which one should I choose?

In 3500 words I managed it five times. In five different ways. I should have a contest of my own, see if anybody can find them all.

I didn’t start out with the idea that it should be another comedy, either, although it isn’t one, quite. I don’t usually start out with any idea what a story should be or where it should go. I usually start with a character, somebody doing something, and the story spins out of what he’s doing, and why he’s doing it. Usually I’m lucky enough to figure out what that is before I get to the end. A short story lends itself to comedy, though, at least I’ve found it so. Or maybe that’s just the kind of guy I am.


So if you’re in the mood for fiction that makes a couple of good, sharp left turns (ha! Get it?), you can find it right here.

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