Important-sounding title on an unimportant post.
I’m at the moment in the process of reading Hal Duncan’s latest essay on his blog, and the accompanying linked speech by John Clute on narrative grammars (worth a read, though this post isn’t really about them); it being late at night, and Hal’s post being quite long as usual, my mind has wandered a little from the post itself. I’ve been thinking of two stories that have been floating around in my head for quite some time now, the ones I think of vaguely as “operation” and “machines”–both of which I think of as belonging to “the City” setting, and for both of which I’ve in the past written brief opening scenes. I tried to first think of them in terms of Clute’s narrative grammars, and how the “phases” he provides might be used in those stories; and though I couldn’t seem to come up with much for it, it returned to mind the desire I’d had in the past to find a way to move “operation” out of its initial setting, to go out of its tone of mundane SF-ness into something wider in scope and more ephemeral in tone. So while one part of my mind is considering the ideas behind these stories, another is thinking of the kinds of narrative flow described by Clute, the types of feeling evoked, and a third about genre and tropes and subsets of subsets. And halfway through reading, it hits me, suddenly, that the two stories are complimentary.
The first begins when the protagonist is damaged (or altered) voluntarily; the second when its protagonist is altered (or damaged) against his will. The second story begins on the outskirts, and would involve the protagonist returning to the City, and eventually working his way deep into the heart. The first begins in the City, and if I let my urges have their way, it would wander outwards beyond the boundaries and into entirely unknown territory. Thought about in the context of one another, it takes on whole new levels of significance.
These are, I realised, two beginnings in the same story.
It’s an interesting feeling. An entire thematic structure has appeared in my mind between one thought and the next. It’s not something I’ve had insight into before–structure and theme on such a macro scale. Decent ideas don’t come to me all that easily.
To accomodate this realisation, I am of course going to have to completely revise my conception of what the City is. And entirely redefine the tone of both pieces to unify them. But, suddenly, I have something to work towards.