Grim Curio Part 2

Part 2 of Grim Curio is now critique ready! For those of you who’re knew here, and let’s face it, at this point it’s most of you, I’ll tell you what that means below.

Want to jump right in? Reddit | Google Doc

What is a critique ready excerpt?

As I write Grim Curio I’m sharing excerpts that are still drafts. They aren’t very clean, they’re riddle with typos, and will most likely be different than the final released product.

I share these excerpts with other writers and with you to get feedback through a Google Doc. Anyone can make comments on the text itself, or can leave a written critique on the reddit post.

I plan on sharing most, if not all, of the book this way. So far it’s led to lots of inspiration and significant changes to both James and the overall setting of Grim Curio.

Missed part 1? Here’s what you need to know.

Read Part 1: Early Version (Reddit | Google Doc) | Current Version (Reddit | Google Doc)

In part 1 we were introduced to James, a detective specializing in anomalies and living in a dystopian world. James seeks out Veil Sign, a phenomena that’s the result of ‘creatures’ from other realities brushing up against, or invading, our own.

When we meet him in part 2, he’s investigating a disease that is turning a villages young into brain dead husks. He has just made a breakthrough when he see’s veil sign in a little girls room. Creatures from another plane are swarming her, drinking her thoughts.

Read it by following one of these links Reddit | Google Doc

What’s coming next?

There’s one more short section before the end of Chapter 1. It looks like it’s shaping up to be another 2,000 words or so. That would make Chapter 1 a total of 8,000 words.

What does that mean? I don’t know, you tell me. It’s certainly a damn long chapter, much longer than I anticipated it to be. But I don’t see a reason to break it up because it’s scenes are already broken up pretty well.

Structure

Here’s one thing I could do: I could turn Chapter 1 into Part 1 and separate the scenes into chapters. I’m not sure what I think of this idea yet. Probably too short for a Part. 

As for the overall structure of Grim Curio: if this story ends up having five acts, then I think the first four chapters would make up act 1. Act 1 will involve the introduction of characters, plot and setting (surprise!).

Act 2 will involve the mystery of the creatures that posses Simon, and will likely set up the tear in the veil. I’m not sure how I’m going to approach that yet, but I think it’ll be cool.

Act 3-5 is where things get hazy. I haven’t really thought this far ahead in any real depth yet. I’ve done that on purpose though, because I want to make sure the plot is reactive. But I do have some scenes in my head.

Scenes

I have this idea of these ants that live in a fungus forest. They are about 2 feet tall and three or four feet long. They are hosts to mind fungus growing out of their heads. That’s all I know about that, but we’ll get it in there eventually!

Let me know what you think in the comments. Did you know that there is an actual fungus that does that to actual ants? Google that shit.

Badass Writing Day #1

Recently I made a major career change: I went from being an internet marketing guy to a programming dude. One of the many benefits programming has over my last job is more vacation time, which in turn means more writing time.

This year I’m setting aside four full vacation days which I’ll dedicate to writing Grim Curio, and I’m calling them my badass writing days! Not very on brand or whatever, but it’s fun to say.

My first BWD will be this Friday, and I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t been able to set aside full writing days since college, so I plan to take advantage of it.

BWD: The Plan

A day like this will be most effective if I have a plan, so here are my priorities:

1. More words on page.

This is a simple but important one. No book was ever written without putting a substantial amount of words down. Depending on my other focuses, I’d like to write at least 1,000 green field words – meaning these are brand new sections of the narrative, not words added through rewriting.

I can often get 1000 words in about an hour and a half, but I run out of steam once I reach that point. To combat this, I plan on working on some other aspects of Grim Curio once my momentum slows.

This initial sprint of writing will focus on Chapter 2. Chapter 2 introduces us to the two other protagonists: Simon and Julia (not sure I’m happy with the name ‘Julia’ yet). These two scientists have succeeded in punching a hole through the veil that separates our reality with the Base reality.

If that’s confusing, no worries. It’s all layered reality stuff, a concept that runs through the core of Grim Curio. The more I post here, the more I realize that I really need to write a post on the layered universe, otherwise you’ll likely get lost. Another time.

[what follows is more spoilery than usual] In this chapter, Simon and Julia attempt to repeat the experiment and punch another hole in reality, but something slips through the hole. It dives into Simon’s eyes. This entity then begins mapping itself to Simons neural network, and slowly begins taking control of his body.

So it’s not good times for Simon, or Julia for that matter. Anyway, I’ll be working on that bit.

2. Determine whether to cut chapter 3.

This is a toughy. Chapter 3 was the original piece I wrote when I thought up the concept of Grim Curio. Because it was the first thing written, it’s also the part the stands out the most as potentially not belonging.

This may not make sense, so I’ll explain. I’ve found when I come up with a new idea I’ll write it a quick as possible, often getting 5 – 7,000 words written before I need to recoup. In this burst, my ideas are usually simple and direct. 

But as the story grows, these ideas break down for one reason or another. Maybe a character isn’t working as well as I had hoped, or maybe the setting isn’t as cohesive as I had thought, or add other thing here.

As I continue to write, the ideas begin to bloom. I’m able to adjust for the weaknesses in the original concept, and the writing style of the piece has been solidified. So when I go back to read the original pages, they don’t really fit with everything else.

In the case of Grim Curio, the idea behind Chapter 3 was to introduce the reader into a day in the life of James Bartlebee. You follow him through a particularly gruesome case that ends poorly for him. Along the way you’re introduced to the narrative universe.

Since writing this, I realized that Grim Curio needed a better introduction, so I started working on what is now Chapter 1. In this new chapter a similar thing happens: James goes out on a case, solves it, and comes out worse for it. It also does a far better job of introducing the world.

I can revise Chapter 3 to be congruent with the rest of the story, that’s not a problem. But do we really want a second case of 7,000 or so words before diving into the guts of the plot? I really don’t know. 

Part of me thinks “yes we do want this chapter because it shows us James’ rhythm, and gives the reader a formula to expect”. This could be good because it’ll make the rest of the story feel bigger as the story zooms out from the day to day life of James to a reality splitting attempt to stitch the universe back together (or something like that).

On the other hand, it may feel too repetitive. Grrr. I don’t think I’ll know until I rewrite this chapter and read it in the context of the rest of the book. It’ll be very painful to cut if it doesn’t work out, but I could also release it as a stand alone short story if that’s the case. We’ll just have to see.

3. Rewrite Chapter 3?

If I choose to keep it, then I’ll still need to do some major rewrites. This will likely take me a significant chunk of time. Still, I don’t loose steam while doing rewrites like I do when I write green field, so I’ll be able to devote myself to this for a good long while.

4. More words…

And of course, I’ll want to end the day with another sprint of green field words. I’m not sure if all this is realistic, so even if the second sprint is 500 words, I’ll consider it a success.

So that’s what I have in store for my Badass Writing Day. What do you think of the idea? Have you ever devoted a day to a side project? If so, tell me about it in the comments. If you’ve never had a project day like this, then tell me what you would work on if you had the time.

Until next time.

I’ve eaten fungus since I was a child. My sweat and blood are toxic. I don’t need a knife to kill you, I just need to dab you with one drop of my blood.

Grim Curio

Change log: Chapter 1 Part 1 Revised

Last week I shared my critique ready version of Grim Curio Chapter 1 Part 1. It was 3600 words long and was the first piece I shared online. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of feedback and felt compelled to revise it right away.

Well the revision is done, and a lot has changed, including the addition of nearly 1000 words! If you want to read it, follow this link to the critique page on Reddit.

So what is the difference between the two versions?

There were a few points of feedback I received which resonated with me, but one overshadowed all the others: the setting is too vague. Readers seemed to picture a British gentleman when they pictured James, not exactly what I was going for. Clearly something was off.

It makes sense why that is. While writing the first 10,000 words, I’d never formalized a setting. There was something vague in my head, but I was having trouble solidifying it.

But once the feedback started coming in, the setting began to develop in my mind. This story will be cosmic in scale, involving the ripping apart of the boundaries between multiple realities. So not typical. For this kind of story, I need a setting equally not typical. And now I’ve got it!

The new setting

The concept of this setting is: 500-1000 years in the future, the earth is a husk of what we know today. It’s been ravaged by scientific progress. A multitude of events have shaped the world to it’s current state: ecological devastation, nuclear war, chemical weapons and more have made the planet an inhospitable place.

What little of humanity remains are packed within relatively non-toxic safe havens. Spores linger in the air, and spore storms are a ever looming danger.

Factions

Of course, humanity has divided into sects, as is always the case. Two of these sects are the Scientists and the Naturalists.

Scientists are devoted to furthering scientific progress above all else, even treating sciences as a religion. They believe that those who do not embrace Science will eventually be swallowed up by the desert. So it has been projected by their analytical analysis of the planet and her patterns.

Naturalists are devoted entirely to nature, living simply off the fungi that surrounds their villages. They believe that the only way to survive on this hostile planet is to embrace what little nature we have left, as toxic as it is.

These factions are just subtext. They only have a little baring on the story, but they flesh out the world and expand on some of the themes I’m working on. 

Weird Fiction

This new setting moves the genre closer to the weird science fiction genre, which is the realm of authors like China Mieville. If you haven’t read his work, I highly recommend it. The nice thing about this genre is it offers nearly unlimited freedom to explore the ideas I want to dive into.

That’s all I have for today. There’s a lot more I want to share with you, but it’ll be information overload if I just spill the beans all at once. Here are some hints of things to come: character profiles, the meat factories, how spores affect the environment, and how the layered universe works (plus more).

I’d like to hear from you. So what do you think of this format? Do you find these kinds of posts interested? Is there a topic you’d like me to cover in a future post? Let me know by leaving a comment.