When the Dust Settles

Hey, everybody.

It’s a been a really busy month. Work—you know, that day job—has really gone off the hook this month. In a bad way. I was trying to take work stuff down a notch, but that ain’t happening. In fact, it’s getting more intense. And it’s doesn’t look like that will clear up until the middle of September. Sigh…A dust storm envelops houses in Stratford, Texas, 1935. These massive storms, called ‘black blizzards’ or ‘black rollers,’ could reduce visibly to just a few feet.

Anyway, what am I getting at? The first thing I cut back on in my free time is the writing of this blog, so I had to do that this this time. The fiction writing is even suffering a little bit, but it’s for a good cause. I’m thinking about which story to start next. And I have a good plan for wrapping up the story I’m working on right now. So, there’s definitely more of that to come.

When the dust settles, I’ll be back to the blog here to update you all on what’s going on. Until then, I leave you with this little piece on today’s Hugo awards. And the promise that I’ll be writing more stories soon and posting here on the blog.

Until then,

Darius

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Short Story Title Reveal: Pacha-Mama

…and I’m back.

Back to work, back to writing, back to civilization, which after all, is simply writing + fermentation, like Faulkner said(?). It’s true that it’s hard to think of a civilizacelebracion_pacha_mama_01.jpg_2033098437tion that didn’t have BOTH. Just think about it. The Mayans, the Babylonians, ancient Chinese, ancient Persians, Egyptians. They all had the two…but I digress…

What have I been up to? Writing-wise that is? I’ve finished off a new short story…It actually runs a bit long to about 8,000 words. It’s called Pacha-Mama and I’ve sent it off to a few of my Beta readers. Initial feedback has been good: I need to polish the work and figure out a few of the transitions a bit better. Overall, I feel pretty good about it. I’m going to give my B-readers a little more time to get back to me and then I’ll hit it again. Smooth out those remaining parts, proofread it and then start the submission process. I don’t want to talk too much about it here, I’ll only add that the idea came to me after a trip to Peru a couple of years ago. I was sitting on the deck in our hotel on Taquile Island watching a big storm blow in from the Amazon across Lake Titicaca and it hit me. Or should I say the kernel of the story’s main idea began there?

Anyway, more on that later. I just wanted to get down a few things I think I got right on the latest story. The common thread in the two is that I did what worked for me—Darius—as a writer. Some might be able to write a story without plotting it first. Some might be able to write a piece thinking “This is going to be young adult urban fantasy” or “This will be Islamic steampunk.” And good for them! They can do it and should. But for me, I know it would never work.

So, here are two things I did with this story that I’m proud of:

1. I plotted the hell out of it.
I wrote a detailed plot arch outline before I started writing. You know, with an introduction, rising tension, climax and resolution. As I wrote, when I got caught or something didn’t make logical sense, I stopped. One day in particular, a day I was intending to keep jamming on the first draft, I realized something didn’t quite make sense. I didn’t panic. I just came to a full stop. I stared at the screen, thought about the consequence of the action on the page and worked out a solution. I spent an hour or so doing that. Once I had the solution, I went ahead and kept writing.

That’s how this story went. That strict plotting let me write more freely once I had it in place. That structure helped guide my writing and how far it could go before I had to reel it in.

2. I wrote without a thought about what genre it would fall in.
I originally thought this was a horror piece, but going along I realized that wasn’t quite right. It makes sense much more as a fantasy piece or, if you will, a piece of urban fantasy. The bottom line is that the story and the characters come first. They dictate what your story is. They had to bring forth the truth of this story and, in tone at least, I had to follow where they led. (Yes, I’m aware this contradicts 1 above somewhat). So, I just wrote it. And you know what? As soon as I wrote the last word of the last line, I knew it wasn’t horror. I knew it was something else. After a little thought, I decided what it was: fantasy.


So, that’s it. A little recount of the writing of my latest story. Like I said, I’ll be working on it in the coming weeks and then submitting it. I also am continuing to submit my earlier works. No editors seem to be biting yet, but I’m confident it’s only a matter of time.

Until next time,

Darius