Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Of Pirates and Time Travel and Other Unlikely Things

Contemplating something for Permuted's recently announced time travel anthology, but every idea in my head ends up being a re-write of either "The Terminator" or "A Sound of Thunder."

A future where machines take over? Been done. Going back to kill someone who has an effect on the future? Been done. Something changes in the past, with a "butterfly's wings" effect on the present? Done and done.

I did start something a while back, about a distant future where Earth has been destroyed, but the alien conquerors kept a few humans around because their natural curiosity made them good galactic private detectives. They do a lot of whiz-bang travel using futuristic gizmos, and have found that they can travel through time using ancient recordings of these things once called "movies" (or so the legend goes). Placing the recording into a machine, they can travel back in time to where the "movie" was set.

But it occurs to me I've never successfully written a story specifically for an anthology. I wrote a Poe thing for a Poe anthology, a futuristic thing for the "Footsteps" anthology, and "Fortunato's Ghost" for Permuted's "The World is Dead" anthology.

Now, I like every one of those stories and think they're pretty good. But not a one was accepted for the specific anthology I wrote it for. If anything, anthology submissions make good "idea fodder," and if you write a good story and it doesn't get accepted, you can always send it somewhere else.

And I still resent Permuted's last editor updating his submissions under the heading "slush pile." I sweated over the story, submitted it, and now you're calling it slush? I always thought "slush" was the term for unsolicited manuscripts and stories, and last I checked, you had an open submissions call . . .

Not bitter.

Progress continues on the pirate thing. Been averaging upward of 1,000 words a day, which is nice. Funny to find, though, as you go back and re-read and edit, that half of those words are crap. So you cut out the crap, and end up with four or five hundred of (what you hope) are the right words.

Also discovering more with this one than with anything previous that I often go back and "paint" in some more relevant facts, or what I hope are interesting or humorous happenings. For example, it was a Saturday evening when my protagonist successfully thwarted the raiders' attempt to steal the shipwreck (which is an old pirate ship, but nobody knows that yet.)

And it was just after midnight on Sunday morning when young Chris first meets the crazy man who shows up and talks funny. Of course, the "crazy man" is the captain of the pirate ship, who, with the unearthing of the wreck, has also come back.

Now, the guy needs more help than Chris can provide, and he's also really tired and wants to go home because his mother will be waking him up for church in just a few hours. Long story short, Chris does what he can for the guy and finally gets home, and the next scene takes place in church the next morning. And here's where the "painting" comes in:

I'd already written the above when it occurred to me that it shouldn't be just *any* Sunday morning, but it needed to be Easter Sunday morning. No doubt part of the reason was because Easter just passed, but more to the point, it allowed everyone in town to dress up in their finery, put beautiful flowery hats on all of the women, ensured there would be coffee and danish in the back of the church after the services, and mostly, it meant that Chris would not be able to find ANY excuse not to make it to church! I needed him there.

I also kind of like the idea that the celebration of a resurrection should coincide with . . . a resurrection.

Anyhow, I've rambled enough. But for those still reading, here's another snippet from the WIP:

In his seat at the end of the bench, Chris stifled another yawn, knowing the service would soon be over and he would be free. Like the rest of the congregants, his eyes were closed, and his head was bowed for a moment of silent contemplation. He was embarrassed to hear his stomach growl while thinking of the coffee and pastries coming up after the service. He'd had no time to spare for even an apple before his mother hustled him out of bed and out of the house.

His head was still bowed when he began to hear hushed whispers come from the rear of the church. Opening his eyes, he turned his head and saw what all the fuss was about. Upon seeing it, he turned again quickly and began sliding down in his seat, though he knew it was too late. He had already been seen.

But what Chris had glimpsed in that brief moment were the people sitting in the rear aisle sliding themselves all the way over to the other end, while folks in other benches stared wide-eyed at the new visitor. Some quickly turned around again, hushing their whispering children or pointing husbands and reminding them that staring was un-Christian.

When the newly arrived man had caught sight of Chris, he smiled broadly and removed his hat before again executing that fancy bow. But Chris had turned before the man stood up. He imagined the man was now sitting himself down in one of the recently vacated, though no doubt still warm, empty seats in the rear. And as Chris slumped down in his own seat, trying hard to make himself part of the bench, the man in back spoke, his voice echoing around the church.

"Now, now. Don' be lettin' me disrupt yer foin services on such a beautiful day. I apologize fer me tardiness, Parson, an' I'll see that it not happen agin."

Unconsciously, Chris clenched his eyes shut as the man spoke, fearing he'd say something about their encounter last evening. Only when the echo of the man's voice faded away, did Chris dare open one eye and look up to the altar where the minister stood, smiling peacefully with his arms open in welcome . . .


Barry Napier said...

Best of luck. The time travel antho is kicking my butt, too.

Brendan said...

Heh. Same to you, Barry. Not sure what I'm working on will be "young adult" (though it could be . . . the jury's still out), I am following the chronicles of your own WIP closely. Keep plugging!

Aaron Polson said...

I had to mash time travel with another sci fi concept to make it work. I'm sure something will come along...your subconcious is already working on it.

And now my stomach is growling...

Brendan said...

Sounds good, Aaron. Best of luck with it. I may end up writing something even if I don't submit. And speaking of stomachs growling . . . I really need to keep some danish in the house . . .