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A Mailing has been committed this morning. In addition to five more novel queries (that would be Dimo, ringing those doorbells), I've sent off a story to the F&SF slush bomb project, and another (the Xavier "short" alt history) to Paradox. Now to await the blizzard of rejection SASEs. *g*

Alt History

Jul. 1st, 2006 03:34 pm
clarentine: (Default)
[so]...I'm posting a new journal entry.

If you were writing an alternate history story, would you feel obligated to make the point at which your story diverges an important point in the plot of that story?

If, for instance, instead of shooting Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth shoots Mrs. Lincoln, would your story revolve around a historical difference directly attributable to that historical change?

I don't mean that the story should pick up immediately after the event. Rather, my question involves the effects of the historical anomaly. You could write about Lincoln's grandchild and the effect the shooting had on him...

...or would such a plot requirement seem, to you, unnecessary? Do you regard the historical underpinning as no more than setting?

As you might have guessed, my current set of subs on the OWW workshop is an alt history "short" (well, it's something like 14k long, but it's still not a novel), and I'm having a hell of a time figuring out why my subconscious/muse flogged me into writing this, and rewriting it, and combining two shorts into one, and rewriting that.

Gene Spears, an OWW friend and a dab hand with the alt history pen, thus far seems to like the way the story's put together. I still think it's lacking something (like a decent, coherent opening and ending). I need to spend some more time thinking about what the story is supposed to be saying, I guess.
clarentine: (Default)
In the past I have been accused, and rightly so, of letting my characters wallow in angst. I say this is a valid accusation, not because I was not seeking angst, or pathos, or tragedy but because I recognize that my use of it was not working.

And that's the one rule of writing that you can't break, yes? That whatever you do must work?

So I've been letting my subconscious stew on the subject for a while. It came to me that what I wanted was not angst, but tragedy. Tragedy as a literary structure (or what-have-you; I'm not educated in literature and like as not will get the terms backasswards) has a very long lineage, all the way back to the Greeks in the written form. More recently, Arthur Miller wrote an essay dealing with the modern use of the term and structure, a copy of which can be found here: Miller describes in words I can comprehend exactly what the power of tragedy is, and how we as modern fiction writers can best make use of that power.

Which will be helpful, once I can assimilate it, because I'm working on the kernel of characterization that will become, I hope, a riff on the Noyes poem The Highwayman ( I want to better make use of the concept and structure of tragedy in writing this one, to make the inevitable rewrite easier.

In other news, I recently was able to see where I'd made a plot mistake (like, failing to have one) in a short/flash story I'd put together last year or the year before, and can maybe see what I need to do to mend my not-so-short story about love and death in an alternate Serbia, otherwise known as the Xavier story. Xavier in particular is an emotional favorite of mine, and I'd like to fix it so that others can appreciate the tale. I'm still cleaning up the rewritten version of Kith and Kin before sending it off to be read, though, so Xavier will have to wait his turn. The flash, however, I plan on sending off to Fortean Bureau or some such. I think that'd be a good market for this oddling.


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