Monday, November 23, 2015

Ecotour guest blog: Inundated


As the month of November winds down, there is still time to participate in our Kickstarter campaign for the Ecotones anthology. One of the cool things we've been doing is giving each of the participating authors a chance to talk a bit about where their story came from and what drew them to write for the anthology. You can check out all the posts that have already been posted (including mine about place in fiction) at the bottom of this essay. And be sure to stick around to the very end for info on how to win a free gift card!

Today, I am happy to introduce Jon Laidlow, contributing author in Ecotones. He’s here to tell us why he submitted a story of place to SFFWorld.com’s fourth anthology.


When the theme for the forum anthology was announced, I was still stuck writing fragments and ‘flash’-length fiction of about 1000 words or more for the forum challenges. I found constructing longer stories quite difficult, though I’d made a few half-hearted attempts.

I’d written a thousand words of a story, “Inundated,” about a man confronted by an apocalyptic flood, and his search for his wife and daughter while the world ended. I thought it was quite neat, but the story didn’t really hang together properly: it opened well, then faded a little.

The theme was announced, and then I had to shamefacedly Google what an “ecotone” was! I was a bit scared that it meant pure eco-SF/fantasy, which I’m just not knowledgeable enough to write well.

(Wikipedia: An ecotone is a transition area between two biomes. It is where two communities meet and integrate.)

But the quickie definition from Wikipedia gave me something to go on. My protagonist, Yuri, in that story, lived on the land, but had worked the sea. I had established that the land and the sea had been in an equilibrium, but now something had changed, something had broken an old pact, and the waters were rising.

But still, I’d never written a successful story at this length, and the forum is full of writers, like Daniel, who can do this in their sleep, so I twiddled my thumbs a bit, then toyed with an idea for a story that I called “Avocado Blue” which I still haven’t written.

Finally Andrew got in touch and said “Inundated” was pretty good. Can you make it longer?
Five times longer.

Gulp!

I decided to give it a go, and struggled through August to draft and then edit a new version of the story. I learned a lot while writing the longer version of “Inundated”. I then learned even more when Andrew pointed out to me that I had used flashbacks (I like to call it in media res) and a convoluted narrative scheme. He gently suggested telling the story, which was by this point seven thousand words - the upper limit for the anthology, but by no means a novel - in chronological order. Oh. Right. Yeah….

I acquiesced, and saw that it improved the story almost immediately.

Even then I didn’t expect the story to make it past the reading team. They had a lot of submissions and only a limited number of slots, and there are some good writers on the SFFworld forums. When they accepted the story (subject to fixing the timeline!), it felt like I’d crossed a threshold in my writing, I’d “levelled up” into someone who could write more than a thousand words. And now I’ve got several longer stories either finished or on the go.

Finally, this is how the new version of “Inundated” opens:

“Yuri woke up to the sound of waves breaking at the end of the street, and knew that the undines had breached the final defences.“


Thank you to Jon for his thoughts. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Want to read Jon’s story and find out what undines are? Want 13 other great, ecotoned stories from professional and amatuer writers from around the globe?


In fact our campaign has recently been chosen by Kickstarter as one of its coveted Staff Picks.

We’re over 70% funded! Can we reach 80% today? We can if you'll help us. You’ll get Jon’s story and much more.

Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card by posting a link to this post on Twitter or Facebook. Remember to use the hashtag #Ecotone and come back here to let us know you promoted our anthology (provide link). The winner will be contacted via the email address used to comment. And we’ll announce the winner at the end of the blog tour (December 2nd, 2015).

If you are curious, check out what other contributors have to say on this Ecotour:


Thanks for reading!

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