WARNING: AUTHOR IS OVER-CAFFEINATED AND THEREFORE EVEN MORE RAMBLY THAN USUAL. THE AUTHOR ASKS YOUR FORGIVENESS FOR ANY LONG-WINDED TANGENTS SHE MAY GO OFF ON.
Today I was participating in a thread on the NaNoWriMo forums and had a sudden realization. (Yes, I’m participating this year. Yes, I know I wrote a whole blogpost last year about how I was never going to do it again. I’ll write one explaining why I changed my mind soonish.) You see, the thread was one where you shared the best line you’d written today. I could have, as most people seem to, have shared the most profound or most poetic.
I didn’t. I scoured the nearly 3000 words I wrote today for the funniest line I’d written that could stand alone. Yesterday, I did the same thing. (Except I was looking through the, frankly, mind boggling amount of words I wrote yesterday: 5684, or something very much like that.)
Today, however, doing this made me realize something: I’m writing a sitcom. Or whatever you call the written equivalent. I almost always am; I certainly am always happiest with my stories when that’s what they are. Even my darkest stories have some humor in them.
I don’t know why it took it me so long to come to this conclusion. I’ve been describing the rpg version of the setting as “a sitcom in a space opera setting” for years. Depending on exactly what’s going on, it ranges from The Cosby Show on a different planet, to MASH on a different planet. Because my brain is a very, very weird place. (And I watched too much TV as a child. Or listened to it in the background while re-re-re-reading the Little House books. Come to think of it, the intersection of 80s sitcoms and the Little House books is pretty much exactly what one of my works-in-progress is . . . except on a poor ranching world in another galaxy, 250 years in an alternate future.)
But the written stuff . . . I don’t know, I guess part of it is that when I think of funny books I think of things like Discworld and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I’m no Pratchett or Adams. And, holy shit, they’re both dead now. That’s fucking depressing to think about. Anyway, I never thought of my written stuff as comedic, despite the fact that what thrills me the most when my wife reads what I’ve written any day is when she laughs, despite the fact that every single positive review for Jake’s Last Mission mentions the humor, most of them using some variant of “witty” to describe it. Despite this, I somehow labored under the delusion that I was a serious writer, writing military sci-fi, or slice-of-life space opera, or whatever.
Hell, just re-reading this post, especially the warning at the top, I’m wondering how the fuck I didn’t realize that “wit” is my natural mode of communication. Silence or sarcasm are pretty much all you get from me. Hmmm . . . maybe that’s why I didn’t realize I was writing any kind of comedy; to me, sarcasm is a much a basic part of life as oxygen is. It’s not something that stands out, in fact, I’m more likely to notice a total lack of it in a book or movie or whatever than its presence.
I’m wondering now if me trying so goddamned hard to keep The Crown of Eldrete serious was as much to blame for how much it, honestly, isn’t very good, as it being in third person is.
I also thought today about some of the bad reviews I’ve gotten and realized that the problem was, ultimately, that some of the reviewers were obviously thinking Jake’s Last Mission was a serious book, instead of a light-hearted tale of a guy who really just wants to go home and retire, but fate has other plans first. I mean, criticizing the lack of plot twists in something like that, or complaining that there’s no real tension, seems to be missing the point quite a bit.
I think, maybe, I’ll rewrite its description in one place to emphasize how light-hearted it is and see what that does to sales. Will be an interesting experiment, if nothing else.
But, really, mostly I just want to know why the fuck I take so goddamned long to figure out the bloody fucking obvious.
For my next amazing discovery, I bet I’ll realize that I swear a lot. 🙂
Oh, and here are the lines I shared, first yesterday’s and then today’s (or day before yesterday’s and yesterday’s, by now. Whatever.):
Yesterday’s (Whole short conversation because I couldn’t find a solitary line that stood alone well):
“Remind me again why I ain’t spaced you yet?”
“I’m your first officer. If you tried to space me, I’d have you removed from command, as you’d be unfit for it. So you’d never succeed.”
“So because you’re a clever bastard, got it.”
Some things need to be said in person. Like “Darling, we’re going to be taking the battle directly to the homeworld of the crazy, murderous asshole, and, oh, did I mention the fleet guarding this world is, by all accounts, undefeated for hundreds of years?”
The story these are from is the tale of Jake (he’s rapidly becoming my favorite person to use as a narrator) becoming commander of the Sweytzian Space Fleet pretty much right as a war gets desperate enough that taking out the entire leadership of the other side is seen as the best plan. Which, I easily see, would probably be something super serious in most author’s hands.
In mine? Well, you get conversations between the command crew like yesterday’s quote and thoughts from the narrator like today’s. There is serious stuff — Jake’s worried about his son-in-law who spent half a year enslaved by the bad guys and hasn’t quite fully mentally recovered, yet is still involved the war because he’s one fucking stubborn son of a bitch; Jake’s missing his wife and kids and grandkids; but for the most part? The story is people bantering with each other and Jake getting driven crazy by everyone in the universe. Maybe the other sort of story would sell better. Fucked if I care. I’m having fun writing this, and somebody’ll enjoy reading it, I’m sure.