Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Short Story Collections, It Seems, Put Scooter To Sleep
Of course, one advantage for Scooter in napping is it allows him to wake up at 6:40 in the morning and subject me to some rousing (in both senses of the word) purring. Since it's against this particular self-employed person's code to get out of bed before 7:00 AM (I mean, what's the advantage of being self-employed if you have to get out of bed before 7 AM), this gives me some time to nestle with Scooter (it's the only time of day he's even remotely affectionate)and ponder.
Lately what I've been pondering is Shade Of The Moon short stories. I have several things to work through before I even begin to remove the unsigned contract from its happy home in my file cabinet.
First amongst these things is the difference between a story and a chapter. I'm good at writing chapters. I've understood chapters ever since one of the many excellent editors I've had the good fortune to work with explained to me that characters have to do something in each chapter. It's not enough for the characters to talk about what they did in the previous chapter. The characters have to continue to do things.
Of course in stories characters have to do things too. So here's the difference between stories and chapters. Stories have beginnings, middles, and endings, while chapters are mostly middles, with a little bit of an ending, enough to either give the reader a chance to go to the bathroom or to make the reader decide to read one more chapter before going to the bathroom.
For me the real difference is chapters are easy, stories are hard.
But that doesn't mean stories aren't fun to think about, especially with a purring cat curled up beside you. I have completely arbitrarily decided there should be 14 stories, plus the prelude and coda (previously known as the prologue and epilogue, but prelude and coda are prettier words and much easier to spell).
This is what I have in my mind so far (I have nothing on paper, or computer, or whatever):
1 story about a boy who lives in a house that's being taken over to be used in a safe town and the Marines are doing it so the boy meets Alex's brother Carlos. This is the only one of the stories that has a beginning, a middle and an end.
2 stories about Alex's friend Chris Flynn, who's the character I most want to know what happened to. One when things are relatively okay for Chris and one when maybe things have gotten a whole lot worse.
2 stories about Alex, one with Miranda and one without.
3 stories about an as yet unidentified girl who seemingly has no connection with any of the characters, but at the end of the third story there's some kind of surprise connection. For a while there, the unidentified girl was a Duke's daughter, and while she might not end up quite so noble born, I do think she'll be a child of privilege and possibly not an American who happens to be here so she's stuck. Dukes' daughters, by the way, are Ladies and not Dukettes (I did research).
1 story about Miranda, because there's got to be at least one story about Miranda. Or maybe 2, if Alex gets 2. But don't ask me what the stories will be about because I don't have the slightest idea.
While I'm willing to turn my back on the vast majority of The Shade Of The Moon First Effort, there are a couple of things I mention happening while the family was on the way to the safe town that I would prefer to keep. One was Matt and Syl going off on their own and the other was Dad dying before they get to the safe town. So I'm trying to work those things in. Dad dying is particularly tricky, since I don't want to devote a story to it. Or maybe he won't die. I don't know.
What I do know is for any of this to work, I'd better figure out a whole lot more beginnings and endings and a whole lot less middles!