The Story of a Story
I’ve been quiet on Medium of late. Ironically, this is the busiest I’ve been in my 15 months (yeah, I know) as a fiction writer.
Since New Year I’ve written one novelette or novella (15k words) and revised another (19k words). I’ve written several longish short stories and sent out a whole volume for beta reads and manuscript assessment. I’ve started a weekly Substack storyletter (Tall and Tiny Tales) and darn near busted a gut promoting it. I’ve podcasted and illustrated 20 episodes on Substack. I’ve become much more active on social media than this born curmudgeon and hermit ever anticipated. I’ve even found time to keep my publishers happy with coursebook material. You know, the stuff I actually get paid for.
I thought this might be a good point to sit back and reflect on my writing process. I’m hoping that some of my fellow fiction writers here might be inspired to do the same.
I’m going to write about the genesis of a ‘long-short’ story, Acheron, which I intend to publish first here on Medium. It’s high time I showed my Medium followers some love. After all, it’s mostly down to your support that I write fiction at all.
Like most of my stories, Acheron began with a place. Suze and I spent a few days camping with the Banjophobic Outlaws (aka sis and bro-in-law) in a beautiful patch of Victoria west of the Cathedral Range. It’s called the Acheron Valley. I spent a lot of time sitting by the river, walking the banks, taking photos, thinking.
The little Acheron River is remarkable for its clean but inky waters. Many rivers that flow through eucalypt forests have dark, tannin-stained water, but this one seemed particularly black. That and the Hadean name made it seem romantic, sad, maybe even threatening?
So, I had my place. I also had a tentative theme of sorrow, maybe death or the threat of death. Gloomy stuff, hmm. I am not disposed to write gloomy tales, although many of them have moments of sadness. I would have to watch how this one developed …
I like my protagonist to have an interesting occupation. I considered the farms along the Acheron and in the broader Goulburn Valley: there are beef farms, arable farms, dairy farms, orchards, olive groves…