short story meme

You know what? I think my short-story-producing brain needs a kick in the rump. So I’m going to meme for the first time in a while, with something I picked up by way of yhlee and mrissa.

Give me the title of a story I’ve never written, and feedback telling me what you liked best about it, and I will tell you any of: the first sentence, the last sentence, the thing that made me want to write it, the biggest problem I had while writing it, why it almost never got submitted to magazines, the scene that hit the cutting room floor but that I wish I’d been able to salvage, or something else that I want readers to know.

(Incorporated Mris’ edit — the original phrasing had to do with “posting” stories, because it seems to have started among fanficcers. Also, as per Mris, I make no promises that these won’t turn into real stories. In fact, I’m kind of hoping they will.)

0 Responses to “short story meme”

  1. srallen

    I think my favorite of your short stories was “While You Were Out”. I mean, I’m fairly jaded when it comes to “modern” fantasy (too much de Lint when I was younger, I guess) but this was a breath of fresh air to me, and so familiar. Merging the fantastic with a temp job without being too clever or heavy-handed? Brilliant! It was obviously self-contained but it really left me wanting more.

    • Marie Brennan

      That one was tough to write because it, like “Selection,” is kinda-sorta second-person pov, and that isn’t something I experiment with a lot. But it was the only good way to show the contrast between the temp and the person she was subbing in for — at least, the contrast as the narrator/temp saw it, which may not be what you’d call reliable . . . .

  2. janni

    That one about the elves from way back when, from way before you were writing novels with the fae … I know you’ve said you think of it as juvenalia and not up to the standards of your later work, and so you never even gave it a title, let alone submitted it … but I always was secretly fond of the snippets you posted online, and I suspect I wasn’t alone in this.

    • Marie Brennan

      . . . okay, Janni, how the hell did you get access to my hard drive???

      No really. Except for the posting of snippets, THAT BOOK EXISTS.

      • janni

        Clearly, my work here is done.

        (We’ll be waiting on the snippets … :-))

        • Marie Brennan

          There will be no snippets. The work is not only juvenilia; it’s a blatant rip-off of several other people’s work. I’m chiseling off those parts one chip at a time, and may eventually be able to rebuild the setting into something I can write publishable work in, but we aren’t there yet.

  3. kizmet_42

    I must say, The Turn of the Card had me mesmerized. The whole meta line – is this a real game of solitaire or did she decide the story and then determine which cards would come up in the stacks – distracted me the first time I read it. The second and third times, I was able to get away from that, mostly because of the hot romance between the Queen of Diamonds and the Jack of Clubs.

    • Marie Brennan

      I refuse to ever say whether it came out of a real game or not, but I do play a lot of solitaire. I will admit, though, that I really wanted to make it a romance between the Queen of Diamonds and the Queen of Clubs, but I just couldn’t find any solitaire variants that would allow that to work.

      Clearly card-game culture is prejudiced against lesbian relationships.

  4. kleenestar

    My favorite was “Stewart and Love.” I really liked the way you handled the magical elements of the story – on the cusp between the mundane and the miraculous, without ever feeling like you had to over-explain. It’s one of the few longer pieces that I felt drew a lot from the poetic elements of your flash fiction, which was pretty cool too.

    • Marie Brennan

      In fact, I originally tried to write it as a poem. But that crashed and burned. That’s where there’s a near-total lack of plot, though.

      • kleenestar

        I never would have guessed – I couldn’t put the story version down! When Stewart figures out what’s really going on, I hated him and was sorry for him at the same time. It was a freaking great scene.

  5. anghara

    “What Lies Underneath” – it was to do with Faery, but not your Onyx Court set-up, something quite different, and quite dark, all about choices and dealing with the fallout of same, and you’re so GOOD at that…

    (And I am going to steal this meme…)

    • Marie Brennan

      The last line was originally going to be “And seven years is not so long a time,” but I hate putting out sequel-bait when I don’t actually have an idea for a sequel.

  6. mrissa

    “The Octopus Tenors” made me laugh and laugh.

  7. scribble_myname

    I fell head over heels in love with “In the Hand of the Goddess.” It was such an enthralling read to discover how someone so human could have to deal with such vastly important decisions for her people at such a young age because of the powers she inherited through faery blood. A truly fascinating read.

    • Marie Brennan

      Very belated, but —

      It all came about because of my frustration at stories which treat kids as being incapable of doing anything substantial just because of their youth. Sure, she has faery blood, but that isn’t why she’s able to make those decisions; it’s just why she has to. And that distinction is more or less where the story came from.

  8. zunger

    I was always fond of “Lord Wensley’s Cudgel.” The contrast between Lord Wensley’s inner crudeness and violence, and the seeming refinement of his outward behavior and the behavior of everyone in the court, really brought out how deadly a thing 17th-century politics could be. He makes for a good antihero.

    And of course, there’s something lovely about watching a pompous fae making all his social intrigues and schemes, and suddenly realizing that they could all be brought to a halt with a simple blow to the head. Really, more fae politickers ought to end up that way. 🙂

    • Marie Brennan

      Finally catching up on these last few . . .

      You want to know a dirty secret? Originally I thought there would be an intriguey schemey political answer to the conflict, and I wrote 90% of the way through the story expecting that, but I just couldn’t come up with anything that worked. And so I was sitting there thinking in frustration, “rocks fall, everyone dies” — and then it occurred to me, well, why not just have somebody get clubbed over the head?

      Which is also when I figured out the title.

  9. diatryma

    I liked “Tulipifera” first because of my Plant A&P class, but also because it kind of tied into the metabook where I read the research entries and sort of know you and that’s cool. On a story level, dude, just look at it. Tulip smugglers! In space!

    (wait a second I might have to write this now)

    • Marie Brennan

      Sorry for the delay!

      The story was actually the result of me being lazy ‘Cause if I wrote about tulip smugglers during the actual Tulip Mania, I would have had to get my facts write — but if I put them in space, I could just make shit up!

      Plus the instant I thought of that, I imagined the scene where they hide the bulbs among the hen-alien’s egg-cocoon-things, and then I just had to write it.

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