I spent December 2016 writing ‘GLAN party’, my first short story in a long, long time. It’s about a LAN party in the future.
The story is in English, and though it’s not entirely done yet (I’m waiting for reactions from some critical readers and I might still edit a bit), you can read ‘GLAN party’ on Medium.
‘GLAN party’ started out as a Twine game, but I quickly soured on Twine’s unsatisfying blend of narrative and game play. There are some great Twine games out there, but they’re not something I enjoy writing.
Here’s what I learned:
- To write a short story, basically you have to sit down and write. That’s the only real requirement. You can make the process as convoluted as you like, and I’ll want to tweak mine a bit more. But the story will never exist if you don’t sit down (or stand up, sure) and write every word of it. I find that an empowering thought: because that means if you can find the time to sit down long enough, you can write anything you like.
- Start with the end in mind. They told me over and over again, and I didn’t listen. Turns out they were right. I think it ends okay, for a simple A to Z plot. But for my next story, I going to think about the end a bit before I start writing.
- Try to solicit some more criticism, earlier in the writing process. I recently met ‘hybrid novelist’ Niels ‘t Hooft, who polls his readers during his writing and after their reading. Seems like a good idea.
Here’s what I’m happy with:
- The English used in the story, though rather cryptic according to some early reactions, is very much how I wanted it for this story. I like puzzling over fiction, as the higher payoff you get from that has been one of the joys for this non-native speaker wrestling through Melville and Nabokov. Also, it helps sustain the futurism angle, by creating a bit of distance between it and the English of our familiar world. For a next story in English, though, I might tone it down a bit. (Actually, my first story after this one will be in Dutch, at the request of Niels.)
- The idea of mobile computers morphing into brightly colored, childlike replicants in our lifetime (or a lifetime that closely resembles ours). To go online, pull them on your lap and cuddle them.
Here’s what I’m unhappy with:
- The world is a bit tongue-in-cheek, with tubers riding around (get it?), and krilldogs, and embodied computing. The story was meant as a new look at the frustrating yet satisfying experience of organizing a LAN party. But because of those ‘funny’ ‘ideas’ it will now be read as satire. That’s on me.
- The ending. How do LAN parties end? The same way you go broke: gradually, then suddenly. So that means the party had to end with a bit of an anticlimax. Say your goodbyes, and that’s that. True to life perhaps, but not a very satisfying read per se.
What I’m going to do next:
- Write another story, again with a science fiction angle (sorry!), but in Dutch. I’m reworking a dream I had last year into a setup right now, and want to write the story, start to finish, in February. (So expect it in March.)
Charles seems to like it.