Sunday, March 21, 2010

Probably not a short story

But I'm okay with that, really.

Awhile back, I wrote about how I was working on a short story which would be history for a group of related novels I'm writing. Back in that post I had joked to myself that I didn't want it to turn into another novel. Yet now with the planning I've been doing for this short story it feels like there is enough going on so that it won't fit into the short story format.

Backing up a little bit, going forward at the same time. Last year I wrote the first draft of a science fiction mystery novel which takes place a few hundred years into the future. My main character is on a mining station in deep space somewhere. While that novel is set only on the mining station, the characters involved are part of a human race which has spread out to the stars. The time in which the novel takes place humans have been living on different planets for generations. Based on the colonization patterns and life on the planets, there are distinct cultures between them. People travel between the planets, and the planets are organized in some sort of interplanetary government. I also have other novels in mind that take place in this set up.

When I was doing some of the initial planning for the draft I had mapped out a vague time line of how humans had made it from Earth to the stars. I wasn't doing anything to detailed early on, only enough to get me to what I needed for the draft. With this time line I had decided that humans had a base on a planet just outside of our solar system from which they had a nice launching point to start exploring the planets which end up populated for the novels. With still settling on names for everything at the time, I called this the "Alpha site" since it's the first step to the stars. (Then I called the first planet settled Beta, as the next place humans moved onto from there).

Now that the first draft of the mystery is finished I've been looking at more world building to flesh things out better in preparation for revision. In the mean time I'd also been thinking it would be fun to write a short story. Inspiration hit and I thought, wouldn't the founding of the Alpha site make a great short story. So this month and last I've been writing down various scene and world ideas, figuring out the events which lead to the Alpha site being set up. Of course as I worked the more ideas generated other ideas. I've got a few different conflicts going on, and some thoughts for a decent cast of characters. People are involved with getting the mission ready to travel to Alpha, and then there is the crew of the shuttle.

Taking a step back and looking at what is involved I realized that at the current level of detail this is more than what would make for a decent short story. There are to many things happening and to many characters, if I confine it to a small space (pardon the pun) then it will feel to disjointed. This realization gave me a choice; I could take out part of the story to simplify it, or I could turn it into something longer.

While I'm not saying that this will be a novel, I have decided not to remove anything for the sake of length. The events that transpire here are all involved in a pivotal moment in history for the formation of civilization in my novel(s). My goal here is to best tell that story. If on further work it looks like it might stand as a short, fine. But if as I suspect it wont, then I'll work out the details and figure out what format will work best with the telling. I can always come up with something else if I really want to write a short story for the purposes of working in a short story format.


Erica said...

Ooo that sounds really interesting! World building can be fun - and frustrating! Love it though ;o) Good luck!

Claire said...

Thanks :) I hear you on the fun and frustrating. It's enjoyable to work out the world details, but finding that "have enough to work with without getting to involved" balance can be difficult.