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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Short stories and pleasing the characters...

I am currently 2500 words into a 3500 word short story. The theme was 'gaslamp' leaving the actually story open from there. I am a big fan of traditional 'gaslight' movies such as Hitchcock's Gaslight, with Ingrid Bergman, and have been tinkering with steampunk short stories, so a gaslamp short story was very far from either genre. 

For those of you are not sure what 'gaslamp' fiction is, let me enlighten you. Gaslamp fiction is one sub-genre of speculative fiction - a term now commonly used to describe fantasy, steampunk or science fiction, amongst others. Some have also called Gaslamp fiction, Gaslight romance or Gaslight fantasty.  It is a form of historical fantasy, often set in the Victorian (and sometimes Edwardian) era , though it is (not so) subtly different. The main identifying feature of gaslamp is the supernatural theme or characters. There is a Gothic fiction influence, often with an alternative history storyline. Though Steampunk is usually more science/gadget related though there can be a significant overlap with lines often blurred.

Sometime ago, I started a gaslamp short story which had quickly evolved into more of a dectective, psychological story, more gaslight than gaslamp. I had decided to complete the gaslight short story and write a gaslamp one later... but something was still missing. I had been trying to work out how to get from point A to point B in the allotted word limit and failing miserably. The characters refused to oblige me and the detective insisted on required clues and explanations. I left it for four months, as I could not get the story to coalesce cohesively and result in a satisfying ending.

Last week, I reivisited the original story again. The possibility of a the alternative gaslamp short story had already been swimming in my head but the ideas (again) were not wanting to mesh together. But... when just one character (of the original story) took on a more gaslamp characterisation, suddenly the story fell into place. All the clues, the characters and the storyline all made sense. Obviously the characters had wanted to be part of a gaslamp story all along!

Already, I have managed to trim much of the excess storyline. Now it will (hopefully) fit the required minimum words. I may even have enough ideas, from the edited sections, for a second short story, with the same character. I will revisit this again possibly Friday but am feeling much more confident in the story's direction. My characters are much happier (and having more fun) too.

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