really almost blew it.
To explain – I wrote a short chapter for my steam-punk fantasy where, inside a huge scrap pile, a mysterious legendary gunship has been discovered. Operating under anonymous orders, the woman who manages the yard winches the gunship out with a crane, depositing it on the ground ready for use.
I hardly gave the section a thought. Just a description of her winching it up with the tin sheeting covering its hole sliding aide. There is a bit where she sets it down (gently, like a falling rose petal). But that’s where I left it.
The next day I rode my bike in. Was down in the locker room, dressing after a wonderfully steaming shower.
What was I thinking?
The sub-chapter had been good enough. But it could be better. Why not pitch the gunship as a malignant object, a thing maybe best left buried? After all, it will soon be emerging from the pirate port to kick the asses of the besiegers. I’ve been hinting around this thing the entire book section. Just saying that it was lifted out was lame. It was a lost opportunity.
The new section (not polished – I’ll have to see how it reads together with the second) plays as follows…
It hung in the air like some passing dark-star, no longer a rust-bucket confusable with oil tanks or slurry drums but a thing of kinetic malignancy and potential violence. Its starkly functional form, as round and hard as a murderous fist, gave the hard-core woman with her own violent past the smallest of shudders. As if in respect for its grim presence, she lowered the ten ton craft to the flat surface of the bay with the gentleness of a falling rose peddle, placing it just off a swayback dock. As it touched down, it hunched on its pistoned gimbal-runners, malevolently silent, seemingly watchful.
To me, this reads much better (I’m not sure about “her own violent past” – that bogs a bit). Suddenly the gunship is personified. It’s a dark and sinister weapon. Will this end well? Was this a good idea? Should it have remained buried? If anything, it adds delicious doubt to the reader. It’s not just a pocket warship anymore – it’s a possible threat to the heroes, so intent on deploying it.
We’ll see how this plays. I’m going to carry the motif into the next section where it sails out of the harbor, grim and purposeful.
And an interesting side-thought – Captain Nemo had his Nautilus. Given what I said here, think how much more interesting Twenty Thousand Leagues beneath the Sea would have been if that idea hadn’t been played more, that the Nautilus, with all its super-science, was still a dark thing. Nemo could have found himself cursed by his own creation, a interesting blend of Frankenstein and Moby Dick. It’s still a classic, but a modern classic might have extracted more from that relationship. Just saying.
Anyway, I’m glad I gave my tale a relook here.
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