The Freedom of Shackles

It’s Friday, and despite a fusillade of rejection letters earlier in the week, I’m feeling rather good because I finished the first draft of a new story yesterday. It’s short, for me at least, and it’s not stunningly original because it’s a pastiche of a classic but unknown fantasy author. It’s also at this point destined for a private publishing venture instead of the usual markets.

The neat thing that I realized after finishing it was how liberating all of those constraints ended up being. I didn’t need to outline because I followed the structure of the story I was satirizing. I didn’t need to worldbuild a society because the story moved quickly through only a few locales. The antiquated narrative voice perfectly fit the more pompous and baroque side of my own. I usually stretch the literal connotations of language, which many readers aren’t spry enough to follow. For this story I embraced that whole-hog, even to the point of inventing new words. And because the story won’t go through traditional submission channels, I had no nagging worry that some editor would get snarky at my poetics.

My first-reader thought the story came out very well. I’ll get another critique or two, then see where it stands. But at that point, I’m quite curious to see if this completely off-the-cuff effort might actually seize an editor’s interest. That would be hilarious, and quite a comment on this less restrained process. Who knows–stranger things have happened….


2 Responses to “The Freedom of Shackles”

  1. Maggie Says:

    I wouldn’t mind giving it a crit, if you’re looking for someone.

    The made-up words made me think of Gene Wolfe’s “Shadow of the Torturer”.

  2. scott Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Maggie! I’m not sure yet whether I’ll have this story critted or not, but I appreciate the offer.

    I’ve only read part of “Tortuerer,” but I remember Gene Wolfe talking in his Odyssey lecture tapes about the Oxford English Dictionary and knowing lots of obscure words. I wonder if most of those aren’t just archaic words instead of things he made up. There are also some neat essays about his desiging of that word in one of his Tor anthos, perhaps _Castle of Days_.