Monday, September 6, 2010

About "Snow Tracks"

I didn't write about The Map Room when it went up on BVC. You can read it here. I'll write it up soon.

But Snow Tracks goes up today. (See here.)

There's no excuse for it, of course. I was very busy and then on vacation and now I'm very busy again. We'll see how we can manage this blog.

With The Map Room, and now Snow Tracks, I've started putting up material that has not been previously published.

Every writer has a collection of "trunk stories". These are stories that for one reason or another have not sold. Either the market isn't quite right, the timing is off or (God forbid) the story is a dog.

Certainly, I've written my share of dogs.

But I don't think that's the case for either The Map Room or Snow Tracks.

I'll talk about TMR in another entry. Snow Tracks is what is called a "linear story". It has few twists and turns and doesn't tend to surprise the reader. This is intentional. I was trying for a different sort of effect in the story.

David Smith said once I have this awful tendency to write origami stories: stories that are all folded up and neat and internally very complex. Stories, being sequential, you don't get a crane or a butterfly, you get a lot of folds, turns and crumples and suddenly find yourself holding crane or butterfly at the end.

When I wrote Snow Tracks I had that comment in the back of my head. So I decided to just write a straightforward, linear story. Step 1, Step 2, Step 3.

The purpose of a linear story is to not obscure what you want the reader to see by complex plot. The plot is the obvious component. Instead, the purpose is to show him the character and texture of the story. It's analogous to those gorgeous tapestries from the middle ages that all show the same thing: some knight fighting another night with some people looking on. Each image is exactly the same as a thousand other images. What you observe instead is the texture of the weave, the color of the thread and the fineness of the work. The image is a mechanism to show the quality of the work and not the purpose of the work.

Well, you can make your own decision if I succeeded. The editors have spoken-- it was a trunk story, after all.

But it's a story I'm fond of and so I put it up to be read.


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