Sunday, 10 October 2010

Author's Commentary: This Mundane Slavery

This Mundane Slavery

What's in a title?

When I wrote this it was called 'This Peaceful Slavery'. What I had in mind was a gentleness of life, with the ultimate threat of death keeping us trapped in a mundane existence. I didn't really think the title worked once the piece was finished. I wanted more of an interesting contrast.

This Mundane Slavery is a more interesting title, but runs the danger that it also contains the word mundane. Who wants to read something that proclaims itself mundane? Hopefully, knowing it's micro-fiction, people will be interested enough to at least try it (and this story runs at under 500 words, which is a good length for it). I'm also looking forward to starting to run pieces that don't have 'this' (or some variation of) in the title. It was my opening gambit, and it was a useful device, but it is definitely limited.

I think 'This is Micro-Fiction' as the title under which to collect these first few is maybe a little pretentious... they do show some range and scope with what is possible within micro-fiction, but they are all genre-based, and there is little that really pushes the envelope. So, a new umbrella is needed to gather all these mixed metaphors to the same bosom. These Missing Pieces would seem a little obvious, so I'll keep it stewing in the back of my brain for a little while. And since I have just about enough 'this' pieces to run me to the end of the year, we'll see what I have by then.

You may also noticed that the blog's design has changed. It's nothing mind-blowing, but I like it and the previous layout was kind of thrown up just so that there was something there. I seem to prefer a darker look, I tried a few lighter backgrounds, with dark text, but none of them really worked for me...

I also launched Metamorphosis which is, if you like, my kind of art. It symbolises both the permanence and impermanence of the internet. Some things will be there forever, never read, other things will disappear. We are creating our own archaeology, wherein future peoples, or now peoples, will learn to dig through layers of archives and cached sites in order to excavate old data.

Wow, I'm quite chatty this week. =)

But wait... there's more! I was actually going to talk about the story itself... So I actually wrote this story twice. Normally, my editing process is to go through the story and tweak as I go. Whether that be a few words, a sentence or rearranging/ rewriting whole paragraphs. In fact, paragraph breaks are pretty important and I switch those around a fair bit, this is where the poetry comparison comes up again, with looking at the effect each 'verse' is meant to achieve.

That's beside the point though. I was looking at This Mundane Slavery and I decided that it was too much show and not enough tell. It was more like a voice-over than a person thinking. That's what I was going to mention in the commentary. The creative writer's mantra:

Show, don't tell.

And I was going to point out what I was doing wrong. Then I realised that I should just try to do it right... it was a bit of a rush job, so it's still got a little of the voice-over to it, but it's more personal than it was before. To do this, instead of attempting to edit, I pulled up a crisp new blank page and just wrote it all again. Well, I did copy and paste and edit a few bits, the ending is almost the same, but the first line I wrote from scratch, with just the idea of the old opening in mind.

The addition of the chair and window, I think, makes all the difference. Instead of starting in a head, inside a thought process we start in a room, something we can relate to. Furniture, the mundane, makes the story that much more real, that much more identifiable. (you know, as real as giant robots get...)

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