Short Story Break Time

Soaring Atacama, part of the inspiration for “The Big Red Buckle”

I’ve been regularly working on a longer story idea, in which the hero is the pilot of a space craft that orbits Jupiter using its gravity well as propulsion.  The story is more about a solitary man finding out how to be a good man and friend without the insulation of all the barriers, physical and technical, that can be erected in his self defense.

The story is coming along, but is already longer than the average submission length for most short story publications or collections.

Thus, I’ve dusted off a short story idea with the intent, once its finished, of submitting it to magazines.  I’m learning now that sometimes its useful to have a couple of concurrent projects to work on.  The short story I started on tonight is an idea I’ve had sitting in the back of my brain for a while, set in a similar time and place.  While working on the orbital courier story I think about it a lot, knowing what happening on Mars and back on Earth helps me figure out what might be happening aboard the orbital.

The same seems to work in reverse as well.  Writing down what is happening far away on Mars has given me an opportunity to check where the orbital story is going.  As I pound out this short I’ve become critical of some of the choices I’ve made in the longer draft.  I want to get it right and make it both compelling and entertaining and so I’m sitting here thinking about things I can change to make it better.

Its not just “write, write, write”.  I’m thinking there needs to be plenty of re-write in there too.  Now I’ve got to figure out how I want to save versions of any story?  In the past, having written something I would eventually become interested in something new and just walk away from anything that needed review.  I’ve got piles of incomplete stories on hard drives all over my house.

Now, that I’m doing this, I need to figure out how to approach this so that I can keep the original thread going, but branch new story ideas and directions.  Tomorrow I’ll research how I might accomplish envisioning the solution as something akin to software development versioning.

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