Behind the Writing: Dime Store Detective

Blog No. 144

It’s been quite a while since I wrote one of these behind the writing things, but I do remember that I should warn you that there will be spoilers, and recommend that you go read the story for yourself. I’m quite happy with this one, so really, go read it.


Where do I start? The story is quite a meandering thing. Written long ago, edited over a long time, smattered with old Ben and new Ben. One of the major life events was, consequently at the same time as the beginning of Adventure Worlds, my writing For Them and Not. The story isn’t anything special, but being my first story written under the banner of Adventure Worlds, and being the longest thing I had written at the time, it stands out. Writing it took a long time, lots of energy, and it helped, from my perspective, cement the early group. I was going through a lot of new experiences that seem quaint now, but were ground shattering back then. From there I went to the better (in my mind) The Star that was the Sun. Not only do I like that title better, but it was my best story when we started the Zine, and has tagged along all the way to the last issue.

In the wake of those juggernauts, I started writing Dime Store Detective. It didn’t really have a title, and I had no idea where it was going, but after putting out For Them and The Star, I had to write something. I did muddle around with some things in between, but in terms of a real story that I could do something with, Dime Store was it. I liked the idea of a man living out his detective fantasy, but I had no idea where to take it. Some of the basic plot was floating around in my head (as something else), but once I got started, thing started to slot into place. The woman was cast as the target (and the victim?) and Thomas had a case.

Early in 2014, the group was starting to struggle to get together regularly and Christian and I had a bunch of writing sessions with just us. Things were going smoothly and we were looking at what’s next. I was hacking away the first draft of Dime Store and had another story in the bank (besides a started and abandoned story and another one that is buried, likely forever). Christian was a firecracker, knocking off story after story, posting like a fiend and filling up notebooks and word files to boot. I wasn’t quite ready to go for a novel (he was) so we decided to take all the stories we were working on and put them into a collection. The group had talked about a collection before, but what else were we going to do with all the excess stories we were writing?

So the idea of the collection was born, but the story I was writing, didn’t feel like something I could submit for it. It was winding, fractured, and unfinished. I still worked on it, finding something like an ending (slipping into a Christian-ism of ending at the beginning) but I knew there wasn’t a place for it in print. So it sat in my notebook for a year as we worked on other stories, the Zines, the collection, and propagating the blog. You have all read the many stories of the collection, so I’ll leave it to you to go back and read them, but thing s progressed until I finished November snow at the end of last year and didn’t know what was going next on Adventure Worlds. I dug into my trusty notebook and found the finished rough copy of Dime Store, begging to be rewritten.

It was rough, from the time before joining WOW, before writing and editing the collection, back when I didn’t even realize how much I didn’t know, but the kernel of the story was there, and the theme had grown on me, especially after November Snow. I decided to dust it off and give it a through rewrite (as I typed it out). That task took long enough itself. I started in January, and didn’t finish until a month or so ago. I had to use all of my budding skills to wrestle it back into shape, using the hand written first draft as a template, often ignoring it to go on a tangent, or skipping parts altogether. The finished story is a very different thing from the first draft. That’s often the case for most writers (I think). It certainly is becoming normal for me. The time and my growth as a writer saw to that. For all it’s been through though, I think it is a fine story, if a little haphazard. Like this post!

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