Sunday, 11 October 2009

Dancing in the Winter Rooms with Electric Velocipede

As demented as it sounds, that title is a completely fair and accurate summary of my most recent bit of news, which hails from Saturday morning: my story Dancing in the Winter Rooms has been picked up by Hugo award-winning and World Fantasy Award-nominated magazine Electric Velocipede.

On a slight side note, I remember reading one of those 'how to write good' books - I think it was Lisa Tuttle's Writing Fantasy and Science-Fiction - and being utterly horrified by the author's comment that their usual approach was to write a story, and then scrap it entirely and write it all over again. What an unbelievable amount of work! And what would be the point, anyway? Just get it right the first time!

Perhaps needless to say, I haven't adopted the technique. But I did eventually realise that sometimes it really is the only way forward, and it's a method I've since used twice. The recently-accepted-by-Andromeda Spaceways The Painted City was one occasion, and Dancing in the Winter Rooms the other. It began as a weird, almost documentary-like non-story, which broke just about every rule worth breaking - it had no protagonist (or indeed characters of any sort), no real plot, no definite beginning, middle or end.

It took me a while to realise that, of course, but once I did it came down to a choice between binning it and starting again from scratch. In the end I kept almost nothing beyond the core concept: of a millennium ship divided into four regions, each corresponding to an Earth season, and of the nomadic human tribe that wanders endlessly through its corridors.

I'm very pleased with the final result, which does have a story, a protagonist, characters, a beginning, a middle and an end. And I'm even more pleased that it's going to be appearing within the winner of the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine.

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