Fantasy finally finished — phew!
I finally finished that steampunk urban fantasy story I mentioned last week. Okay, it’s only been eight days, so “finally” may sound like an odd choice of words, but I could’ve done it in two days, even one, if I’d been focused enough. The first draft came out to 4200 words, and I did nearly 2/3 of that just today. I had a really tough time getting any momentum on this one. I guess I was distracted by the holiday and job-seeking and stuff, but some of it has simply been lack of concentration or energy.
I think I made a mistake yesterday. I tried going over to campus to work in one of the libraries there, but it was really cold out, and the closest library was closed for the holidays. It took me a while to find somewhere on campus that seemed like a good quiet place to work, a study area off a walkway that was fairly inactive given the season. But my progress on the story was slow, and after just a few paragraphs I heard some noises from the false ceiling overhead, like maybe there was a rat or something scrabbling around there. I decided to find somewhere else to work, but then I realized it was close to lunchtime and I just found myself going home to eat. And after that I was just worn out from doing so much walking in such frigid weather, so I couldn’t get much more work done. Today, though, I just started working on the story fairly early in the day and finally got enough momentum going to get through to the end.
At this point, I think I’m fairly satisfied with it. For one thing, I’ve finally succeeded in writing a really tight, compact story, one that gets the job done in only a few thousand words. I didn’t weigh it down with extraneous worldbuilding, but the story I told does a good job of establishing the basic rules, cultures, species, and other parameters of the world. There are some major ideas I wasn’t able to establish, but I can use those in other stories. For the most part, I think I managed to keep the infodumps to a minimum and incorporate the exposition more creatively, though it took some rewriting. (I suppose that’s part of why it took so long; it wasn’t easy to find the right way to convey all this information about a brand-new world without giving a lecture or using more words than necessary. Who was it who wrote “I would have sent a shorter missive had I but had the time?”) The two main characters turned out to have a pretty nice interplay, though I think the sidekick maybe came out cooler than the viewpoint character.
It certainly still needs revision, of course. There’s at least one point of characterization (and also worldbuilding/exposition) that I think deserves a sentence or two more about it. I’m not sure the final paragraph is as well-phrased as it could be. And I’m not too happy with the title.
But I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished. Within ten days or so, I’ve managed to develop a new universe (well, a new interpretation of an old one of mine), come up with a short story to introduce it, and succeed at telling that story concisely. That’s a good ten days’ work, even if I could’ve done it in five if I’d been more focused.
So what comes next? Well, my thoughts have been straying back toward my spec novel in progress. Maybe I’ll try to move forward on that for a bit. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself tugging at the loose threads I wasn’t able to cover in the steampunk-fantasy story and trying to come up with a second story around them. Heck, there are several whole species I haven’t introduced yet…