Behind the Writing: Don’t Pick Things Up

Blog No. 91

If you don’t like *spoilers* and you haven’t read, Don’t Pick Things up from Other Dimensions, you should go over to Adventure Worlds and check it out. It isn’t very long, but it’s fun and this blog won’t make a whole lot of sense without it.

Don’t Pick Things up is the first of my stories to go up on Adventure Worlds, having been completely written and sitting before it was posted. I had written stories before it and after while I was still posting The Start that was The Sun. It’s an interesting example (I hope) of the evolution of my writing. I don’t think it’s my best written story, but it is by far better than anything I wrote last year. It’s a story that I didn’t actually write specifically for Adventure Worlds. It was written just because I liked the idea and I wanted to write it. I knew it would eventually go somewhere in some form, but that was less important than writing it. It’s a really good feeling, sitting on a bunch of stories, not having to worry about having something ready for my deadlines. There was no pressure (other than my desire to keep writing), no expectations, and no last minute scramble to get it ready.

Initially it was part of the string of stories Christian and I wrote at the beginning of the year in the hopes that we would have enough by an unspecified date and put together a collection. It wasn’t specifically going to be part of the collection, but everything we were writing at the time had that possibility. At about the half way point, I was actually eager for it to go in the collection. It needed a lot of editing and some heavy rewrites, but I liked how the idea was coming together. Davis was easy to write and was performing well as the straight man. The flashlight was quirky and hinted at something bigger going on. The atmosphere was foreboding and tense. Then something stupid happened that completely eliminated the possibility of the story going anywhere other than Adventure Worlds. Davis passed Fresh Chopper. Not just any Fresh Chopper, the same scarred and wrecked building that Christian introduced in Ten Thousand Dales. I don’t know why it happened, but I know that the Fresh Choppers in Christian’s story is based off of the place where he actually worked and that’s where Davis and the Flashlight were heading in my story.

Most of our stories (I think I can say for all of Adventure Worlds) take place in the fictional version of our home town (and the surrounding area). Sure, there are stories set in space, and the past, but if anyone is in a city or county, it’s probably Windsor, Ontario. There isn’t any specific agenda involved, it’s just where we are and what we know. The world in Don’t Pick Things Up, is a future version of Ten Thousand Dales’ and the connection was made. After that, there was no going back. The antagonist(s) were the mini Dales and the story had to be part of Adventure Worlds. I know there was no rule or law dictating that, but it was too good a happenstance to pass up. Christian had a good following for his story and the enemy in my story didn’t need any explanation or description if the connection was made. It wouldn’t have worked out better if we’d planned it.

In my first draft of the story, I took the time to introduce all the other security guards. They had names, personalities, and backgrounds (easily 500 words). It was terrible. Not the writing (I hope) but the whole concept. It’s a short story about a guy and his talking flashlight, not a group of security guards, so they had to go. Instead, they became a group of nameless trainees who we only see twice in the story. In a short story, there is only time to introduce a couple main characters, I’d forgotten that. Once they were trimmed down, the story really started to move. I separated Davis as quickly as I could and got to the meat and potatoes, the talking flashlight who may or may not be an inter-dimensional traveler/myriad of objects/prince.

Way back in the initial concept, the flashlight was a gun. The whole idea was a security guard who found a talking gun. The dimensional stuff came out of that. Even at that point, the story was way different. The guards were trained professionals and the scope of the zones was much more massive, darker, and filled with conspiracy. While all that is interesting, it’s way too big for a short story. Plus, the idea of a talking gun has been done (a lot) and it felt too aggressive. I didn’t want to have it be all about a violence hating gun, or to have it specifically be against violence in the first place. So it became a more reasonable item of a more generic security guard and the tone changed completely.

I like to think that it ended up being a bit funny and a bit creepy. The dichotomy between the boring security guard and the verbose flashlight, mixed with the possibilities from the multitude of possible dimensions was really fun to write. The story became much smaller than I had initially intended, but I’m still happy with the end result – though the division of parts leaves a lot to be desired.

2 thoughts on “Behind the Writing: Don’t Pick Things Up

  1. Christian Laforet

    This was a fun story. I actually forgot that the flashlight was supposed to be a gun. Good choice on changing it. I was thrilled when you told me that it was going to tie into 10000 Dales. Those little freaks are near and dear to me lol.
    It’s always surprising to me how different a finished story is from the initial concept.

    1. Yeah, it was a bit too Sledge Hammer with a talking gun. It’s funny how those ideas develop then the writing happens and it’s all out the window.
      The 10000 Dales was one of those crazy, during writing, developments. It was really the Fresh Choppers that took over the story. It ended up working for me though.

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