Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Skin of the Fish

A.K.A. More Than a Way Over a Wall

Scale is a very important factor in writing. A huge piece of a story's tone comes from it. Let's take a look at a practical example. Here's a big scoop for you. One of the stories I'm working on is a tale of ghoulish overrun. Some luck people have read part of the work, as the serial story “Sun Cycle”, from back in Killing Time Horror E-rag™, and I'm adding onto it, to make it into a slightly unconventional book. I started the whole idea off with one scene, a reporter for a radio station interrupts what he is doing to comment on a man walking down the middle of a busy road, in the middle of a massive blackout. You guessed it, it came to me, sitting in the living room listening to radio on that day so much of the US and Canada was in a blackout state.

For those wondering, the man wandering the road, is one of the walking dead. No, it's not a zombie, well not the kind usually referred to as such in conjunction with Romero's Living Dead. In fact this is something a bit unusual. That's neither here nor there but I wanted to make the distinction for my own ego. Back to scale... I start with one, let's call it a ghoul--since I'm sensitive about leaking the official name I'm using--and from there I build up to a number of them. One incident, one ghoul, compared to several incidents, several ghouls, it's the essence of scale (as if they didn't know, silly Bob...), or maybe more technically changing the scale.

It should be pretty easy to see the difference between the two ends of that scale. Now, I'm also dealing with another scare that isn't so linear. I have the frequency of the number of ghouls set, not a high number, but perhaps statistically huge compared to the number of regular people still around. Here we're talking a different scale of things. People to ghouls. Likewise another scale is one city with ghouls compared to a number of States with ghouls. Going back, there is a distinctly different scale effect caused by the mysterious disappearance of so many people. There's aren't enough ghouls or people around still to account for any reasonable population number. If we take these different (though in all honesty related) scales and set them side by side, like a sound board in a recording studio, we form an overall super-scale for the entire story.

Now, I have some decisions still yet to be made. I've toyed with the idea of making the ghoul's coverage limited to less than half of the country. I think that scales the story back. It might provide an answer to the lack of population--they've been evacuated. I envision that alteration as something akin to the domain of the Tall Man in Phantasm (or so I've been given the impression, not having seen 1 or 3). Another change of scale I considered was the end of the world scenario, the people remaining are it, the only ones left, and the ghouls are some sign of infernal influence. Either of these can be done spring-boarding off of what I have done so far without an alteration needed, a changing super-scale open to drive the story in new directions. Something to think about, certainly nothing earth shattering, but important.

Mood: conflicted.
Music: Blood Runs Cold by Def Leppard and Be The Ball by Slash's Snakepit.

Def Leppard: Slang
Buy these at Amazon.ca
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Slash's Snakepit: It's Five O'clock Somewhere


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