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30 days on writing: Entry #4 - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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30 days on writing: Entry #4 [Jul. 25th, 2010|10:00 am]
Young Geoffrey
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Five days in a row! Who'd-a thunk it?

0. Explain yourself! In which Young Geoffrey explains the meme and his reasons for exploring it.

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you've worked with and why.

2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you're writing about fictional places)?

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol' pen and paper?

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

8. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you'd like to share?

13. What's your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?

14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?

15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!

16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing? ;)

17. Favorite protagonist and why!

18. Favorite antagonist and why!

19. Favorite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!

20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you've never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What's the most interesting way you've killed someone?

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

26. Let's talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!

27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there's nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?

30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!

30 days on writing, arthur wharton, feminism, fiction, politics, sexuality, writing, valley of shabathawan

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

Ha! I've been looking forward to this question, and was all prepared to start talking about a short story called "One Long Night Along the 401", of which I was proud enough in 1983 that I submitted it to Harper's and then Redbook, if I remember a'right. It was a small, slice-of-life story in which very little happened: a teenage girl, then called "Julia" but later retconned to be the aforementioned Ashera, is hitchhiking from Toronto to Montreal. It's long past sundown and getting cold. A single, older man driving a run-down Lada stops for her, she gets in and they talk. He seems a little sketchy, she gets nervous, but nothing bad happens and they end the ride on friendly terms, promising to keep in touch (huh. Just checked. They exchange phone numbers). Years later, they spot each other walking along the street but neither says a word. The end.

But taking down the slightly battered duotang that holds (ahem) The Collected Works, 1981-1985, I found the above wasn't the first story contained within the covers.

The first is entitled "The Question" and (I now remember) was one of the few science fiction stories I've written. Not surprising, I guess, since I wrote it for my science fiction literature class (Hi there Arthur Wharton!).

That was a story in which quite a lot happened in its few pages. Again (or rather, first), the narrator and protagonist is a young woman, not much older than I when I wrote it.

As you might expect, the writing and especially the dialogue is pretty bad — I was just scanning through it now and found it almost painful in places; it's funny how something one wrote at the age of 15 or 16 can still have the power to embarass 30 years later.

But I'm far from entirely ashamed of it. For the first short story I ever wrote, it's pretty damned ambitious.

The situation is a crashed colony ship on an alien planet. En route, the narrator's father (as she learned later) had "gone berserk" and murdered many of the women on board. Meaning that the colony's survival was in serious doubt and that, the antagonist would argue, that babies and genetic diversity were its Priority #1.

Our intrepid narrator has no intention of spending her life "barefoot and pregnant" and proceeds from arguments in general meetings to taking matters (and a heavy, sharp stone) into her own hands by the story's climax. She kills Roger and later claims that he had attacked her.

Following the murder the final paragraph reads,

I return to the settlement and tell my story. They believe me and everyone is terribly sympathetic to me. They are very impressed with the speed with which I have recovered from my ordeal. They are proud of the way that I have been demonstrating my leadership qualities. They like the way that I have taken control.

Okay, I'm pretty sure I stole that final sentence from Joseph Heller's Something Happened (and possibly (the tone of?) the entire final paragraph; it's been many years since I lent out my copy of the novel and so don't remember for sure), but I'm still impressed by what I was trying to do, from the ambiguity in the ending to the wrestling with politics in general and with feminism in particular.

A couple or three years later, I expanded it into a novelette and later tried to turn it into a novel and I still sometimes ponder the possibility. I read so much SF it seems strange that I think I've only written three stories in the genre — and one of those only a 300 word bad-pun story which Asimov's quite properly rejected.

But that, as they say, is another story.

This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/11511.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: abomvubuso
2010-07-25 09:28 pm (UTC)
You'd think its a simple story where nothing happens, but in fact that sounds like quite a well-thought story! You should've expanded on it.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2010-07-28 02:07 am (UTC)

"One Long Night ..."?

If you're talking about the hitch-hiking story, I do still think it was pretty good — for a story written by a teenager who hadn't yet read much by Hemingway or Fitzgerald and the like. To re-do it now, I would need to take not just my own changes into account but about 80 years of mainstream fiction as well.

Better, I think, to move on to something new.

Or to something old, like the SF novel which I think could in fact still be something quite interesting.

Maybe I should think of it as a fall and winter project? Hmm ...
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