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Sow a seed, I'll give you a flower. [Nov. 13th, 2012|07:00 am]
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Apparently I feel like living dangerously this morning, so here's a meme from swan_tower:

Tell me about a story I haven't written, and I'll give you one sentence from that story.

As she says, at least one sentence. Maybe more.

I haven't been having problems with short story juices flowing, so this is possibly a particularly bad idea. But it also looks like fun, and hey, we like fun. Fun gets us good places.

One of the rules people always list for writing is that you must finish what you write. This is great as long as it's not a straitjacket. If you're aiming at an audience, you must finish at least some of what you write, sure, definitely. But I think some novice writers--and some experienced writers who are in a slump or a transition phase--hear that "rule" and subconsciously translate it to "you must finish every story you start before going on to another." I have--look, I write kind of a lot of short stories. You know that because I'm 34 years old and have sold 91 of them. I don't think it's immodest to say that's kind of a lot. But I have a ton of half-finished stories sitting around and even more smaller seeds. Sometimes things have to germinate. Sometimes things are what Mike Ford called nurse logs. It's a jungle back in there. The last few weeks, though, things have been calling out to get finished, a few at a time, and that's satisfying too.

(Of the trudging along on the novel, let us not speak.)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: dichroic
2012-11-13 01:16 pm (UTC)

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Well, the one I'd really want to see from you is "Janet Laird finally gets to compete in the Olympics (though I'd settle for the World Cup, or even an important Masters competition - I'm guessing hockey has masters, since most sports eeem to) and her leaving her native soil causes issues with the Queen of Air and Darkness." However, that may not be the best story for one-liners.

So in honor of Diwali, how about a story of solstice / light-in-darkness holidays on another planet?
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-13 02:59 pm (UTC)

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Janet Laird will never be in the Olympics. I'm sorry. That is not the direction that is going. She will, however, leave her native soil for Canada and parts Underhill before Jess is even born. Working title there is "Carter Hall Crosses the Blue Line."

As for the one you actually asked for:

Our parents all got strange after four or five months of darkness. Not the kind of strange we all expect or plan for, but a desperate and strained sort of strangeness. They tell us that humans are not meant to have a winter darkness that lasts for eight months, but we don't have any experience of Earth cycles. We wait for solstice as long as we wait.
[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2012-11-13 04:49 pm (UTC)

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I was pleasantly surprised that when we collaborated on our Finnish Saunapunk story, that you brought the darkness instead of me! I mean, not that this hasn't happened before, but the northern darkness was not just literal this time.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-13 05:58 pm (UTC)

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When the Continuation War was over, Jan Huuri thought about it and decided that he had not had enough of shooting at people. Death, his grandmother had always told him, was nothing but a line drawn in the water, a ripple. He had always liked making ripples.

Nor was he the only one. If he hadn't found the witch-girl bruised and shivering, he probably would have gotten caught much sooner. With her help, though...Jan gripped the barrel of his rifle. It was much more satisfying with her help.
[User Picture]From: jry
2012-11-13 07:25 pm (UTC)

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Space station/lunar colony/generation ship (around long enough with big enough group of people to have kids who were born there). Psychic consequences of lack of weather/seasonal variation.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-15 12:55 am (UTC)

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At first they tried to explain it to us using solar flares as an example. This was a bad idea. We formed the notion that every child in an Earth novel was about to get cancer and die if rained on. My sister Claire wept and begged when Winnie-the-Pooh sang his "I am a little black raincloud" song.
[User Picture]From: pameladean
2012-11-13 08:39 pm (UTC)

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I don't remember stories in a recognizable-to-others fashion, so what I am pre-remembering here is the one about the accidental grandchildren on the Mars colony who keep dreaming about ice-skating.

P.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-15 01:05 am (UTC)

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Most people who have reached their eighties without raising children have every right to believe that they will go on not raising them, and Judith and I were no different until the day they turned up with the YOU WRETCH THIS IS PART OF MY NEXT NOVEL UNIVERSE.

I beg your pardon. Ahem.

--they turned up with the social worker, neatly scrubbed and pressed inside their vac-suits and carrying cases with all their remaining worldly possessions. There were three of them like stairsteps, their black hair cut in fringes across their foreheads and their dark eyes shining out disconcertingly familiar at me. But it wasn't until the social worker said, "Mr. Chao and Ms. Goldstein, these are your grandchildren, Enid, Richard, and Harry," that I remembered, sheepishly, about the genes we had given all those years ago, to that nice couple from New New Prague, before they left for the Oort Cloud.

I gaped like the tank fish I grow. Judith murmured in kind confusion. It was Enid who settled them all, gently and efficiently, in what used to be our spare room. Later it occurred to me that she was very practiced at it for a ten-year-old, but later I knew why.
[User Picture]From: mechaieh
2012-11-13 08:49 pm (UTC)

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The Aguanieve Cafe Cookbook
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-14 03:34 am (UTC)

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Press the rosemary shortbread firmly into the pie tin before pouring the pumpkin custard over it.
From: dsgood
2012-11-13 09:25 pm (UTC)

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It's now legal for cats to drive, and they're taking advantage of it.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-14 03:10 am (UTC)

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The problem was not getting the breathalyzer to recognize catnip, but rather getting them to breathe into it consistently.
[User Picture]From: moiread
2012-11-13 10:45 pm (UTC)

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I think you should write me Carter in an illusion where he is an internationally celebrated male model.

I may or may not be serious about this. I haven't decided yet.

Edited at 2012-11-13 10:45 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-14 02:57 am (UTC)

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The thing that should have been a tip-off--the thing that Janet would spend the next eight years mocking me for not spotting as a tip-off--was that nobody had made me shave. And no, I don't mean my beard, although no, nobody made me shave that either.
From: diatryma
2012-11-13 11:04 pm (UTC)

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I forget the title, but you know the one with the kid with the teeth? That image stuck with me.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-14 03:34 am (UTC)

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There was some discussion as to whether to call him Saber or Tiger, so mostly we called him Ezekiel, and we let him have first pick of the missions.

(bonus title: "Pierced With Smoke")
[User Picture]From: carbonel
2012-11-14 06:18 am (UTC)

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The one where some demon (a dybbuk?) tried to take over Jan and Tam's child, but it turned out to be much worse for the demon than for the sprog -- sort of a fantasy version of "The Ransom of Red Chief."
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-15 03:08 am (UTC)

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"Hello, Uncle Carter," said Jess cheerfully. "I've got a demon."

"I have said that more times than I can count, anklebiter," I said.

She rolled her eyes at me. "It ends in -iel, but there are way too many letters before the -iel, so I call it Frank."

"And I call it Ernest," I said. "Seriously, Jessy, don't talk like that, your mom won't like it."

"I'm not kidding, Uncle Carter. Here, I'll show you." She ran up the wall and across the ceiling, doing her little butt-wiggle victory dance on the ceiling before running back down again.

"That's...a good one, kid," I said weakly.

"Don't worry, I have him, he doesn't have me."

"How...comforting."

Demons in their native habitats do not feel cold or hungry or tired. It turns out that at least one force in nature can make a demon feel cold and hungry and tired, and that force is my goddaughter. Go team.
[User Picture]From: papersky
2012-11-14 02:12 pm (UTC)

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Your one from The Waters of Twilight Are Endless. You know, the one with the very serious aliens.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-15 03:32 am (UTC)

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I arranged to meet Ilmeth by the sycamore tree every morning before we went into work. Ilmeth liked routine, and it gave me a chance to breathe in the smell of all the earth plants and loam we were cultivating before we went into the office to be dedicated and serious all day long.
[User Picture]From: blue_hat_guru
2012-11-15 04:17 am (UTC)

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The mutual attempts at (in)comprehension between a species of sapient hermaphroditic marsupials and humans.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-15 02:52 pm (UTC)

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The thing they do not warn you about in xenolinguistics school is the smell. And to be fair, a great many of my classmates got assigned to posts that might as well have been astronomy: flashing signals over and over again towards distant space stations, or into water, things for which you don't have to take twenty minutes of shower and two of sonic fresher just to be able to bear to lift a fork to your mouth because your stinking hand is holding it.

The Hyanuka job was a plum job in every other way. But the first thing about marsupials of that size and description is that the pouch has a rank stench, like unwashed navel mixed with rotting cauliflower, and the second thing about them is that they eat so much fibrous material that they give off mass quantities of methane. The Hyanuka station had lost four xenolinguistics grad students in tears just because of the smell before they got me.

When I wanted to quit in tears, it was not because of the smell.
[User Picture]From: mamapduck
2012-11-15 07:41 pm (UTC)

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I would like to see what you would do with a story that starts by blaming the tree.

I will tell you why later.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-16 01:48 am (UTC)

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If it had been a fir, things might have been different. Fir are reliable. But no, it was a spruce, and with spruce one never knows.
[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2012-11-16 03:29 pm (UTC)

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The one where Carter and Janet end up at a support group for people with similar problems, and are a bit dubious about the whole idea.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-11-16 10:21 pm (UTC)

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Look, I like Angela. It's not that I don't like Angela. But there are all sorts of assumptions she makes from her job that...just don't always fit well with the rest of our lives. Take this support group thing, for example. Once Ang started hearing about the weird shit touching more and more of her clients' lives, she thought, I know what to do about this! We'll get together a group!

We are not group people. We are team people. But we are totally not group people. And neither was the cluster of Hmong grandmothers who looked at me like I was about to stomp their heads when I came in the door. Neither was that poor black dude in the corner. Neither was--okay, nobody, right? None of them were group people at all.

Angela is group people. Angela came in all cheerful and brisk, like there was no chance this could go badly. Angela is crazy.
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2012-11-30 05:37 pm (UTC)

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So, I've been going around to all the writers who are doing this meme, because I can't remember who it was that didn't write this story, and I'm really having fun seeing what everybody comes up with -- so far, they've all been different, and all been good:

That hardboiled detective/romance novel with the alien invasion in Renaissance Venice.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-12-01 12:54 am (UTC)

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The Doge never paid any attention to the likes of me, and I liked it that way. His Serenity had far bigger concerns than a blacksmith who couldn't even afford his own gondola, much less aspire to the Signoria. So when I approached him for an audience, cap in hand, he had no reason to recognize me. I never would have done it, if it hadn't been for the strange blue woman I'd found floating in the canal outside my workshop.

At first I thought she was blue from lack of air, and probably dead. But when my friend Marco poked her with his pole, she blinked, coughed, and grabbed onto it for dear life.