Flatland 10

Flatland - an unfinished String City manuscript

Being the tenth in a series charting the writing of a new fantasy detective story.

The day job’s been so crazy I haven’t had much time to work on Flatland this week. Still, I’ve managed to refine the opening a little more.

I wrote in an earlier entry that it was best to get the first draft down clean, without getting distracted by too much editing. Well, all rules are made to be broken. I’m still only about 3,000 words in, and still working over the first couple of scenes. In this case it’s the right thing to do, as it’s only by rewriting that I’m finding the real shape of the story. If I lay the foundations right, the thing will build itself.

One problem was that my original plan had too many beginnings. My detective hero discovers the city’s been flattened. He gets seduced by a femme fatale. He gets threatened by his neighbours. He gets debriefed by the smooth-talking resident of the penthouse apartment. All before he actually gets to do any detecting!

That’s way too much of a logjam for a piece of short fiction. So in the latest draft I’ve cut it down to the discovery the flattening, swiftly followed by the seduction scene in the femme’s apartment, which is cut off by her getting abducted. The kidnapper (who happens to be a giant cockroach) leaves our hero with a ransom note demanding that he steal the two remaining dimensions and deliver them to the cockroach in exchange for the femme’s life. The PI retires to his office to figure it out, and off we go…

At last this seems to be working OK. I’ve got a mysterious opening, a sexy-but-odd scene in the femme’s boudoir (the seduction of the PI is supernatural, so puts down deep roots with unnatural speed). There’s a fist-fight between the PI and the cockroach (good to inject some early action) and the surprise of the abduction. All this bears on the story, and leaves the PI with a mystery to unravel.

Confused? Fear not. For the first time I’m beginning to believe this story really is worth writing. With luck, you may get to read it and decide for yourself. In the meantime, I’ve got another 7,000 words to put in the right order.

Read the complete Flatland diaries:

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