Like many across the world who want to be writers but keep putting it off, I’ve been taking part in NaNoWriMo.
But rather than using the month, as intended, to get an entire novel written, I’ve used the thing for two different purposes – to get a short story written, and to get started with writing a blog.
The blog so far has been a partial success I’d say – got a fair few things down there, starting to get into a rhythm.
The short story, a science fiction story set on a space ship in the distant future (I never said it was anything profound) is something I’ve went back to on and off for a few years.
I’ve had greater problems with this. Mainly around self-consciousness – I tend to feel, when I’m writing, ‘did I do this right? Does this work?’
So I’ll obsess over whether jokes are funny, action sequences are exciting enough, and so on.
I’ve got three main areas of obsession.
Firstly, there’s a lot of setup, getting to know the characters – their hangups, their prejudices, their belief systems, who likes who and doesn’t like who, what life’s like on their ship, before there’s any full on action. There’s tension and danger right from the start, but in terms of outright action? I don’t think there’s any for the first half of the story at all. That could be good world-building, letting the tension rise, or it could be dull because nothing’s happening.
I don’t think there’s any outright jokes (at least in the setup-punchline-laugh sense), but there are a few little character bits which are supposed to be amusing.
A third thing I’m obsessing over, there’s a fair bit of what you could call ‘politics and morality’ in the story. In science fiction terms, I’m more influenced by Star Trek than Star Wars. The best stories (episodes and films) were ones where there’s action but either some kind of moral debate, or talk over the struggles of identifying with a totally different race. The kind of stories that lack the black and white moral clarity of the Star Wars universe. When you bring in political and moral debates, all that kind of thing, there’s always the potential to look pretentious, stupid, or cheesy. Which I’m afraid I have.
So yeah, there’s three big things to be self-conscious about when I’m writing what I’m writing. I should probably be glad there’s no sex – then it would hit just about everything there is that’s possible for a writer to obsess over.
Hopefully, in spite of the above, there’ll be a submittable version of the short story in the near future.