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30 June 2010 @ 06:50 am
ReSpec'd - Taking The Tunnel into Outer Space  
 A flash fiction story of mine - The Tunnel - is up on the excellent Wily Writers website in both text and audio formats this week.  It's a flash story, so is under 1000 words.  The audio version is something like 6 minutes long / 2.8mb.  Set against a backdrop of war, it's a story about... well, why don't you read it or listen to it, it won't take long, then I can really say what's on my mind :-)

Back?  Great.  Hope you enjoyed reading or listening to the story (or both).  Here's the thing - this wasn't a speculative fiction story in its initial drafts.  It was a slice of life story about a child's anxiety over the threat of losing the respect of his parents, set against the backdrop of a war in a very generic, twentieth or early-twenty-first century society.  It was written in English but the conflict described could have been anywhere.  Or anywhen, really.  I liked the narrow focus of the protagonist, the way little things still matter even when huge events are taking place.

When I finished the first draft I considered changing the level of detail, adding dialogue, making the setting more specific.  I considered but resisted all these changes.  There was something about the simplicity of the story that I liked.

Then Ripley suggested I add a speculative element to the story and submit it to Wily Writers.

I love the speculative additions to the story.  They were added as part of a round of minor tightenings of the story.  The isolation of the colony sets a bleak undertone that ramps up the tension of the conflict.  This is an orphan community facing the threat of extinction.  The stakes are incomparably higher on a societal level, and the fact that the protagonist is more or less oblivious to this strengthens the contrast between his own troubles and the concerns of his parents.  I feel like the story gained a bleakness, a depth and a giant-spiders-with-plasma-cannons appeal that helped to sell the premise.

I am now very tempted to write more stories that are of a non-speculative nature, then experiment with adding far-flung settings, supernatural elements, dragons, magic.  Fun stuff.  I think it'll be an interesting project to try to write in a literary style then speccify away :-)
Jon Gibbsjongibbs on June 29th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
Congratulations :)
Matt Cowensmattcowens on June 30th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)