Have you ever spent a whole afternoon looking for the plan for a Renaissance Venetian house in order to use it as the setting for a few scenes in the story you have written already, but is missing that extra something?
Well, I did.
And thank goodness for domestic refurbishing companies, because otherwise all I had been able to find was a detailed plan for the Palazzo Ducale. A little too upscale for my purposes.
But architecture studios today are quite proud to put up the plans of the buildings they have worked on. It took me the whole afternoon to find the plans, but now they are here on my desktop.
The following step was ditching three thousand words of my 10.000-words story, and go back to redesign the whole action scenes at the core of the story.
Because now I have reality to work with.
That is the reason I did my research in the first place.
I like to anchor my stories in reality.
Probably comes from growing up reading science fiction.
I want there to be a bit of hard facts in my stories.
Even in my fantasies.
More so when I am writing “realistic” fictions like crime thrillers.
A house plan is good to plot a scene – I can furnish the place the way I like it, I can put statues and frescoes, choose the color of the wallpaper and the carpets, but to have a proper floor-plan is so good!
The story I am about to mail to the publisher has been harder than I had expected. I sent along a pitch, with the story half-written, and after the pitch was accepted (in four weeks), I sat down to finish it.
And I found that something was missing.
I cut and pasted and re-read it a hundred times, and I played out the con at the core of the story using mind maps and flow charts.
And it still missed a bit.
Also, I found a few scenes – two, to be precise – I liked a lot but basically were useless. Beautifully written, if I do say so myself, but useless.
Off they went.
And still I missed something.
And that was the anchor of reality.
Hence, my quest for the maps.
And now that I have them, the whole thing shifts, and it is suddenly so nicely solid that it’s really just like watching a movie, and writing down what happens on the screen.
So now I’ll prepare me dinner – fusilli all’arrabbiata, if you are curious – and then I will finish it and then tomorrow I will re-read it and format it and then I’ll mail it to the editor.
Then I’ll take a shower and I’ll go give a short lecture about Harlan Ellison at a local event.
And is there a better way to start remembering Harlan Ellison than mailing out a short story?
I don’t think so.
Once again, wish me luck.