U & Me, Against the World
When I have a story idea, one that I really like, it writes itself. In the early part of the process, I just kind of think about the idea and see where it leads. My crazy imagination does most of the work. More often than not, I am completely surprised where the story ends up, because it isn’t usually where I thought it would go.
U & Me, Against the World is a great example of that. I had the idea about a year ago. The story I had in mind is not even in the same neighborhood as where it wound up. That is okay, I will still write that first idea someday, when the muse lets me go out and do my own thing. I started this version last weekend. I was going to write it in a journal entry style (narrator tells the tale) but I didn’t really like where it was going. I kept being mixed up in the “show versus tell” so I put it down and went out to the pool. Lying in the sun, IPod playing, I just let the story play out in my mind. As I watched it in my head (that is how it works for me), I really liked it. In a few hours, I had most of the details and storyline. Sunday night I returned to my keyboard and started describing all the things I had seen.
At about two in the morning, (spring forward kills me) I realized that there was no way I could tell this tale in a single short story. A short story by definition is 2 to 7 thousand words and I already tend to take it to the limit on word count. In the first two chapters, the word count topped 9500 and I still had plenty to tell. Hmm it didn’t seem that long in my head. I figured if I did my absolute best to edit out every unnecessary word or description I might be able to drop it back to 9,000 words, but the story would still be incomplete.
So I went a different direction. The story seemed to have three natural parts with two “chapters” in each. In truth, even chapter six will only bring us to maybe the half way mark of the bigger story, but novels are intimidating so I don’t like to think about that possibility. But I digress. It seemed that I could deliver the story in three parts – three short stories about the same story. It’s cheating a little, but what the heck. The big question was, do I write, edit, and publish all at once or do I post it two chapters at a time? I opted for the second. As the reader, you can read it as it comes out or go with the TIVO option and wait for the completion of the six chapters.
I can tell you that I have not had this much fun with a story since The Case of Dr. Dobbs. I was pleased with the first two chapters and I am equally excited to put down the rest. I did a good amount of research on Influenza, medical symptoms, and missiles and bombs for this one. (probably on an FBI watch list because of my search terms LOL ) You can actually look up everything referenced and find it is rooted in actual fact…something I often skip for my stories ( you should have seen me at three in the morning figuring out the time it takes a ballistic missile to travel 1300 miles – convert to kms divide by 5.7 km per second…6.8 minutes.)
Monday night (post 11 pm) the story went through two edits. I know some writers can put their work away for months, return, and take a fresh view, but I can’t do that. It’s like a romance for me, I like to work on the story while I am completely infatuated with it. Besides, I could edit, edit, and reedit a hundred times and still not get every grammatical error, choppy sentence, or misused word. I don’t have an editor (Caroline went off to college) so I seldom get perfection. So my apologies if it’s not perfect. For me a story is like a secret I just have to tell.
For some of you the incoming characters will be a little familiar since I borrowed from people I know…it’s a characterization so do not get upset if the “sort of you” says or does things you wouldn’t…or dies…it’s a story, it’s fiction, it’s not really you…just kind of an idea of you.
At its heart, U & Me, Against the World is a virus-zombie story that combines, for me, the best elements of things I love about zombie movies. I do have my own little twist that shows up in Chapter three, but I promise that twist does not detract, but enhances, the creepiness of the genre (well for me anyway). When the six chapters are complete I will provide a more complete backstory on the website. I hope you enjoy this one, because I enjoyed telling it. I also hope the first two chapters hold your interest well enough to propel you into the next two.
But if it’s not your thing, don’t blame me, I just report on the little movies in my head.