Story problems and a couple of other things

The first other thing: I’m getting a lot more spambot commentary (a sign of growing popularity, mayhap?), so if anyone sends me a comment that gets accidentally placed in the spam cue, I may miss it. I try to weed them out, but the more I get, the more time that takes.
Second other thing: My new column is out on And, about some right-wingers’ constant quest for reasons to spend billions on missile defense.
Third: I was in a bit of a rush Friday, so I wanted to take the time now to go into the story problems I’ve been confronting lately and how I’m handling them (or not).
Mage’s Masquerade. This story of murder in a fantasy version of Regency England started out with a lot of humor, some action, some romance and a weak (though lively) plot. The next draft made more sense but lost most of the humor and a lot of the romance. Then I realized that if Sinclair and Cecily don’t know each other when the story starts, I can get the plot and the humor … but there isn’t enough time to develop the romance.
So, latest concept: Cecily and Sinclair are lovers, torn apart when her father refused the marriage (which will play a role in the plot). Cecily is magically disguised as a maid, trying to save Sinclair from a magical assassin. That way I have enough of a backstory to justify the romance, and the plot seems to work better. I’ll work on that this week.
Eye of White Cathay. This story set in al-Andalus——10th-century Spain——has been very slow going. This week, I began to wonder just why my poet hero, Simon is taking all these risks: It’s not as if he has anything personal at stake, so the story makes him awfully heroic.
But if he’s not the respected poet I’d been envisioning him but a kind of scruffy poem-seller, a seedy type about one step above French ruffian poet Francois Villon? Someone who’s situation is precarious enough that the Jewish advisor to the Caliph of Cordoba (part of my reason for using this setting is that Andalusian Islam was so tolerant of the Jewish faith at the time) could make things very awkward if Simon doesn’t play ball …
Brain From Outer Space. As I noted Friday, I’m bothered that the story suddenly rockets into all-out action in the last couple of chapters, making it rather unbalanced. I’m not sure how to fix this, but I have two possible solutions, now. One is to trim the opening, cutting out a few scenes.
The other is to trim some of the climactic action, such as the spaceships attacking Washington and the mind-controlled army assaulting the TSC base Steve and Gwen work at. The villain’s subtle, and while the attacks play into his grand strategy, it might work better if he doesn’t do anything so overt, confident his Big and Evil Plan cannot fail.
Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I thought I was done, but the romantic happy ending is starting to worry me. I’m now feeling the male lead is just too much of a mess and that a definite No from KC (instead of a Maybe) would be the best way to handle it.
The trouble is, not only does KC not get the reward she deserves (yes, I still think of finding someone as one of the standard hero rewards), but the relationship has been established from the first as very important to her, which makes losing it worse. Too much worse? Hopefully my writing group can give me some feedback on this.
So there’s where we are. I’ll let you know how the various tweaks progress.

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Filed under Politics, Short Stories, Story Problems, Writing

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