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Update: Smell of November revisit

Posted by nightphoenix on September 8, 2010 in Novels, Output, Process, Short Stories |

This month I’m making it a goal to revisit The Smell of November. I think that story always suffered from the word limit needed to enter it in the WD contest. So I’m lengthening it, and tweaking the storyline a bit. I’m making it more ambiguous, so that the reader never really knows if Alan Hunter is truly a wolf-faced escapee of Arcadia, or if he’s just plain crazy. Going to try and get it in shape to submit to the Realms of Fantasy magazine.

If they take it, I may turn it into a serial thing. Alan Hunter’s story makes a nice lead-in to the overall Grimms storyline, something I’ve wanted to get started on. One of the Grimms, on a rescue mission, meets Alan after he’s been recaptured. They all escape. The Alan/November romantic tragedy will be wrapped in as a subplot to the whole Grimm tale. I don’t think Alan will ever actually be a Grimm; he’ll function more as a solitary ally. He may not be the only one; the Grimms will probably acquire a network of allies as the story fleshes out. Rescued kids who make it back to their families, but still know. Faerie enthusiasts who are in on the truth. Maybe even a rogue Fae or two.

I’m still working on Shades. In the process of spreading out and raising stakes on an already tense scene. I think I’m approaching the point where I won’t have to change much more. I’m also pretty sure I’ve said that before. *sigh* On the upside, I get to burn some mansions down. What’s the point of having a cabal of Cowls in a Mantle city if they never wreak any havoc? Let’s just say it’s high time for some chaos.

I also had a germ of an idea in the car today. I’ve been reading more Percy Jackson books: am currently about halfway through Titan’s Curse. So I was thinking about Greek mythology and heroes, specifically about the so-called “fatal flaw”. And I wondered what it would be like to have a flaw you really couldn’t overcome, and one you knew it really would kill you one day. I mean, how do you live with that? I have this eternal sense of optimism that persuades me that any flaw can be overcome if one perseveres…but I mean, what if there was just no overcoming this?

I think that’s what intrigues me about the vampire myth. No matter what you do, once you’re bitten, once you’ve turned…the Beast within will win. Eventually. No matter how hard you fight. Every slip sends you one step closer to becoming a monster.

But so, what do you do? Maybe the answer lies not in working to overcoming the fatal flaw, but seeking to put it to use somehow. The Greek word for ‘fatal flaw’ is hamartia. Maybe if you combine your hamartia with someone else’s, it turns into a strength. And then I thought, what if there was a world where everyone was born with such a flaw, and the only way to save yourself was to find your flaw-partner. Once you found this person, the two of you together would become unstoppable.

No, not everyone in a world would have this problem. Maybe only a few are born with a Flaw. It would be sort of the opposite idea of Cashore’s Gracelings. It would be terribly unlucky to give birth to a Hamartia, a Flawed One, and so most would be exposed or abandoned at birth. The few that dare to raise a Hamartia child would send them out on a quest to find their Flaw-bound, probably as soon as possible. After all, you never know when a Flaw will reveal itself, or how many people will suffer as a result. Single Hamartia would be shunned in society, barred from public places, etc.

However, Flaw-bound pairs would be revered.

What other conflict could exist here?

Maybe Hamartia are not allowed to fall in love with normal people? Or each other? Maybe falling in love risks the Flaw-bond, as the two are no longer willing to do what’s needed to negate the other’s Flaw. Maybe only same-sex Flaw bonds work, or are trusted to work.

Maybe they just aren’t allowed to have children, as Hamartia always birth more Hamartia.

Or maybe a Flaw-bond has to be between a man and a woman, and for some reason, there are more male Hamartia than female, or vice versa. Maybe same-sex Flaw-bonds are viewed as inferior, or are outright forbidden.

Or maybe Flaw-bound consist of two people who inherently hate each other. After all, who better to mitigate one’s Flaw than someone who sees ALL your flaws and is unwilling to put up with them? Maybe Flawed pairs who last for longer than a couple of years are rare.

This is really only a germ of a magic system, but maybe I’ll dig through my queue of ideas and find a story to stick it into.

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3 Comments

  • Renegade says:

    I am really glad to hear you are working on the Smell of November story again. I really enjoyed that one.
    If you have not read Jim Butchers books, they touch on the vampirism thing about “once bitten” and so forth as the series progresses. They are also a great lesson in how to build a story through increasing levels of conflict interspersed with small moments to catch your breath.

  • goldi8472 says:

    I think you have an interesting idea here, but I can’t help but point out one thing. You mention a thought of possibly making same-sex Flaw bonds outright forbidden. Assuming you work on this idea and you use the same-sex forbidden thing, I would just say to be careful with that and make sure there’s a set reason for it being that way… I would hate for it to be mistakenly taken as a personal societal statement.

  • nightphoenix says:

    I know what you mean. :)

    Honestly, in this political climate, I don’t think an author can have a same-sex relationship in a story, or even mention the issue, without having it be interpreted as a comment on society.

    If I wanted to keep it neutral, I’d probably make same-sex bonds forbidden for much the same reasons they are forbidden in our world: religion, tradition, and people just being uncomfortable with it. Such bonds would still exist, and many people would be okay with it. Some people would be violently not okay with it. Some people would be violently not okay with people being not okay with it. Most probably wouldn’t care one way or another.

    I’d basically re-create our current climate using similar problems and belief patterns, and then place my characters somewhere on the spectrum. It probably wouldn’t be the central conflict of the story…but it could be *a* conflict, depending on where my characters stand on the issue.

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