Every time I review what I've got, I keep thinking of things that I really need to cover. It's gotten to the point that I'm realizing that I'm not keeping everything straight in the story.
It's the details that trip you up, always-always. I'm not talking about little mistakes (such as saying "September" on page one and "July" on page five) but big ones: if they knew what a space elevator was, why the hell did they use a cave painting and not words?
In this case, the answer to that one is very important to the plot of the story. But the characters should notice it, and that's what's missing. Someone has to ask the question, "Why pictures? Why no words?"
Trust me: it'll all make sense when the story's done. I think this is going to be as much about how knowledge is lost as how things are rediscovered....
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I dumped Haruhi eps 6-10 to DVD this evening. Good stuff.
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In WoW, I discovered that you can buy a fishing pole which does more damage than a huge 2-handed sword. Your reputation with the Kalu'ak has to be at "exalted" for you to be able to buy it; but it does a ton of damage, and faster than a 2-h sword does. Additionally, it allows you to breathe underwater!
...so I've made getting to "exalted" with the Kalu'ak my next rep goal. I want that fishing pole. (Besides, then you don't have to switch from weapon to fishing pole to go fishing.)
Since any quest done for any Kalu'ak in Northrend gets you rep with the Kalu'ak, it won't be too difficult to accomplish. I'm already "honored" with them, and really close to "revered" at that, but of course it takes 21,000 points past "revered" to get to "exalted". (It takes 12,000 points to get to "revered" from "honored".)
I also leveled Scythandra's tailoring. It's at 325 now; and at 300 I got the ability to make a flying carpet, so of course I made one. Then I used it to finish exploring Outland, because I've wanted a flying carpet ever since I learned tailors could make them.
Flying around the broken edges of Netherstorm on a flying carpet is incredible. I don't know quite what it is, but there was something so fantastic about it (in the "magical" sense) that it reminded me that this is why I like FRPGs so much. You get to do things that are impossible in the real world.
I mean really: flying a magic carpet through an asteroid swarm--damn but that's cool.
It reminds me of the scene from Mahou Tsukai Tai! ("Magic Users' Club") where Sae is at her family's ranch in Hokkaido, and she goes out with a push broom and tries flying without her magic wand--and does it. I am always really, really jealous of Sae when I see that scene: she can use magic and do these wonderful things like go flying around on a broom in the falling snow.
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All of this comes back to the rewrite, too; I write these stories wanting to convey the wonder I feel at the images in my own imagination. Some of the images are awe-inspiring; and in fact what made me come back to my SF universe (in 1999) after I essentially abandoned it was one striking mental image from the very story I'm working on now: a giant door in the side of an artificial planet, opening for the first time in an eon, as seen from the surface of that planet not far from the door itself.
I'm frustrated because I feel like I can't get that stuff across. I don't know if the sense of wonder at some of this stuff is transmitted to others.
The sense of wonder is hard to transmit, and you can't do it at the expense of story and consistency and plausibility. It's SF, not a fairy tale; there's no magic to smooth over the rough bits. You've got to show the reader what is wonderful about the scene you describe, and you have to do it with words.
I have scenes where I want to convey the weight of years, but I don't know if I'm managing it.
...I've written fiction for thirty years and I'm no damn good at it at all.
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--I'm actually really good at writing fiction. "Really good" from others' viewpoint, that is.
There was a Japanese artist, whose name escapes me, who is essentially the guy who pioneered manga art in Japan. Before this guy there was no manga in Japan. I'm not talking about "big-eyes-small-mouth" style art; I am talking about comic art in general. When he was on his deathbed, he lamented that he was dying: "If only I had more time! I might have actually learned how to draw!"
The guy was an incredible artist; but I know exactly what he meant and how he felt. You look at your best work and you see all the flaws and it completely ruins it for you. The average person won't see more than one of them, if that; a decent critic will point out the four or five worst of them if you're lucky. No one will see them all except for you.
(Critics will find other things wrong with it, things that aren't necessarily flaws.)
...and if you go back and eliminate the flaws, you'll ruin the work. You can easily over-polish a work of art; you have to know when to stop working on it. The flaws don't make the work interesting; but the process of eliminating them will wreck the good qualities the work has.
If you're really good, those flaws won't make it into the finished product in the first place. But there are very, very, very few people in history who were ever that good, and you're not one of them.
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My own work is good enough for publication; this I know. I have one novel right now which needs tweaking to be "finished" enough to submit to someone. The "tweaking" involves adding some description and detail. As this particular novel is still only in rough draft I won't be over-polishing; in fact the work needs polishing. (Not a lot; it's gotten rave reviews from those who've read it. But it needs it nonetheless.)
I know it, but I don't "know" it. I don't know how to fix this problem.
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I actually sold a piece once. It's printed in Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) issue #48, the "Parting Shots" page. It's the only thing I ever submitted and I was surprised when Jolly Blackburn sent me an e-mail telling me he loved it and wanted to buy it.
I need to do more of that. Problem is, I suck at short stories.