I’ve been spending some time on Mars, recently.
Not only did I take part in the How to Survive on Mars course by Monash University – which was lots of fun – but I’ve been reading about the Red Planet in order to write a story (due in two weeks) for an Italian anthology. They mentioned the wrd contract, which is good, and the editor in chief is an old friend, so I said yes. They’ve been vague enough in their guidelines, so I decided to go and hit them with a Martian story.
It will be hard SF, uncompromisingly optimist. My way of optimism, the one that says that problems exist, and we must work hard to solve them. They will probably reject it, but it’s a risk I’m ready to take.
But the problem right now is, I’ve a wonderful setting, but I have no story.
I have my characters, a strong female lead and a somewhat ironic male support, I’ve a society glimpsed through oblique references and language, but I still miss a proper story.
I have a beautiful landscape, but nothing’s happening in it yet.
But there is something I know, and it’s that the story will emerge from the setting, and if I still miss it, it is because my setting is missing something. There’s some detail, some twist, that’s hiding from me. I can perceive it.
And therefore, I go on reading and sketching my colonised Mars.
And wait for that aha! moment that will solve my problems.
At that point, I’ll write the story in a weekend – because it is a 6000 words story, and if it takes more than two days, it’s wasting my time.
I already have about 600 words(hey, it’s 10%!), and they are good words.
They are in English because that’s the language of this story.
And because I’ll pitch the story to an English magazine, too – especially if it gets rejected.
This of course means I’ll have to translate it to present it to the Italian publisher, but that’s no big deal.
It is also likely that this will be just a first step, and more stories will follow, or I’ll try and expand the original story into something larger.
Right now, I need a plot.
And I know my plot is hiding in the details.