Thursday, December 22, 2011

Backstory: "Just Passing Through"

This story is proof positive that "shelving" an incomplete story does not necessarily mean that it will never get finished.  I actually started "Just Passing Through" back in 2007, with the idea of making it into a novella of about 10,000-20,000 words or so.  In time, however, I came to a dead end and tabled it, leaving off with Colby confronting Verdict in the sewer.  It wasn't until Crossed Genres magazine announced an issue dealing with villains that I came back to this piece.  In rereading it, I came to an important decision.
I had come to a dead end because there wasn't 10,000-20,000 words worth of story to be told.  As a result, I took it straight from the sewer to the final confrontation at Colby's house and wound up with a 6,206 word tale.  I found that I liked the result and that the flow was more natural than what I had previously envisioned.  Apparently Crossed Genres liked it too, for they bought it for their September 2011 issue.

In writing this, I found myself having to answer the question, "What causes a villain to become a villain?"  In the strictest sense of the word, Colby is the criminal here, and guilty as sin, but he never meant to become that.  Just as our sins and our poor choices take us to places we don't anticipate, so also was the case with Colby.  I didn't want a Joker-esque villain who was evil incarnate; I wanted a man who wound up somewhere he never inteded to be, a figure to whom we could relate.

I also tried to do a little cliche-busting here.  When I first started the story back in 2007, I had a definite idea about who Verdict would be, and it's hinted at in the beginning of the story.  Without spoiling things too much, I ultimately decided to let that be a red herring.  No sense becoming too predictable.

If I don't post again before December 25, Merry Christmas to you all.  Philippians 4:13.--SMS

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