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A story in scenes of dialog, part 1



This one's been kicking around for ages. Yes, before you mention it, I write far too much dialog -- with Yankee (and some of the other stories I've got in progress) you see the third draft. The first draft's generally 80% dialog, the second has all the intervening bits added, and the third's the cleaned up version after getting a twice-over from an editor.


This story, for reasons I never did figure out but accept anyway, takes place entirely inside an apartment. That's not to say that the characters never leave, nor that they don't interact outside the apartment, just that the reader never sees those bits.


I expect that's a technique that's rarely, if ever, used for good reason, but what the heck. Never claimed this was high art. (Nor sober art, for that matter)


A story in scenes of dialog


"Who are you?" Mike stood dripping in the doorway of his kitchen, dressed only in a beat-up old Battlestar Galactica towel.


"I'm an elf, kid. Haven't you ever seen one before?"


"What? I don't believe in elves!"


"Wouldn't worry about it. We don't believe in you, either. Got any beer?" He started rummaging around in the refrigerator. Clinks, thuds and the odd muffled scream came drifting out. "You really ought to clean this out more often," he said, eying something green, limp, and fuzzy on the middle shelf.


"Wait a minute. Elves don't drink beer!"


"We would if you kept this fridge better stocked. Nice towel, by the way. Quite the fashion statement."




"Just don't believe I'm drinking a beer. It should be easy." The elf popped the top off a bottle of Sam Adams and knocked back half of it in a single gulp.


Mike could see that he was quickly getting in over his head, so he decided to try a different tack. "What exactly are you doing in my apartment?"


"Drinking beer, of course. Why, what does it look like?"


"I was thinking in broader terms


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Would this be the same elf as the Story-that-might-languish-eternally, part 2? If so, see, Domluka was right about using characters over an over. As a rule, I don't generally make up new characters, except on accident (this person needs to meet someone, let's see...Oops, there's a new character), as it is satisfying to me to reuse the ones I have over and over. Plots aren't hard to come up with for me, but a fully rendered character takes work, particularly because I want to avoid virtual duplicates with previous characters.


Actually, I think plot should come easy for you, too. You are already pretty fantastic at writing a beginning, so just think about how you want it to end, and what it would take to get the characters in the situation you want them to end up in. You might even write an outline, or the entire closing, though I don't suggest that, because you will have to rewrite it. In the example of the first undeveloped story, say you want the character to wind up with a boyfriend whose family all but adopts him, but at the same time has to come to grips with the fact that their real son is gay. Christian charity trumping family values, sort of "The Ordinary Us" from Jude's p.o.v.. With that as a goal, you can connect to it, with a couple basic steps:

1-main character (see, I'm terrible at remembering all first person character names, not just Kung Fu's) sees to own survival, gets a construction job, apartment, that sort of thing. ATsame time, meets potential love.

2-Love potential becomes love actually, though slowly, as main character (MC) is trying to hide as much of his life from love as possible. Also, love is closeted, and doesn't want to give into his sexuality.

3-Love does give in, but a series of disaster makes MC's life less stable. He loses his apartment. Love gets wind of it, tells his family, who intervene, and force MC into their home and love's bedroom, which is nicely awkward for both.

4-they of course get over it, knock boots, and are discovered. MC is outted at work (the family tries, but is unable to get him to not work, as he is over 16 and legally able to drop out, he says he'll save up a bit and continue school maybe next fall), but Boss sees potential in MC and moves him to office work, whihc he is obivously well suited. However, the family also gets wind of it all, and...react.

5-Love and MC are seperated, Love is chastised. By this time, MC is quite attached to the idea of a family, and they are attached to him, but not crazy about their two sons having sex. They don't kick either one to the curb, but one parent makes it clear they would be happier if MC was no longer in their home. ANd like Mana from the sky, Dad shows up, and MC is dragged kicking and screaming away, to Love's and one parent's dismay.

6-Finale. MC is unhappy, Dad is unhappy, and one day Love shows up at his door, having run away to look for him. It can't last though, but Dad surprises both by agreeing to move to Love's hometown, for the first time doing something for the MC's benefit. All is righted with world. MC even works at construction place's office afternoons, doing paperwork.


That is, of course, one option, and not a particularly original one at that. I just wanted to show you how easy it can be.


But, if you do any of them, do the Elf story first.




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This is a different elf. This guy's definitely one of those pesky recurring characters -- he's got a horrible habit of popping into stories and getting in the way. He smokes altogether too much too, but that's his problem not mine. It wouldn't be so bad if he showed up and at least pretended to be someone else but that hasn't happened yet. (And yes, some authors do get bossed around by their characters. I expect it's a sign that some amount of medication is in order...)


As for coming up with plots, I'd love for it to be that easy. Hell, maybe it is that easy for some people. What tends to happen for me is that parts of the story just spring out, fully formed. Usually one or more of the characters, often a scene or two, sometimes the full plot. In some cases there's enough there to work with if there's no plot, and in some cases a plot can be ripped out and redone. (Doing that now with another story) Unfortunately if things don't gel in my head, they don't work out right on the page.


Also, don't forget that these are bits and pieces that're kicking around my folder of stuff to poke at, a folder that's altogether too big for my liking some days. (Counting Yankee and its sequel, there are 24 separate gay-themed pieces in there) These are the ones that don't have enough to them, either in content or interest, to warrant any attention, well, ever. Given how long it's taken to get Yankee to the end, I seem to turn up four or five ideas with some structure to them in the time it takes me to take one to completion, so I don't think I'm ever going to get to the ones I've put up here.


FWIW, I do tend to write the end of the stories I work on when I know what it is. I've no problem at all throwing out text I've written. While it's tough to do sometimes, that's OK, since the point's to get the best story I can manage under the circumstances. Knowing how a story ends is important, so if I know, I'll write it. I may go back and edit it, or throw it out and redo it if things don't turn out the way I expect they will when things get edited, but that's just life, and that's OK too.

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