[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]
CHEKOV’S GUN SHOOTS BACK IN TIME AND HITS CHEKOV
Hello All. How’s your weekend been?
It looks like we’re back to that weird closet activity. I don’t have much to say about the following events except that there comes a time in every draft when a writer will be tempted by the plot of another. I find the truth is that most every book you’ll ever write will require you put one word after the other at some point. What’s your approach when you’re wistfully thinking of all the other stories you could be writing?
Without further ado: the email from Writer X. Figure it’s also time for me to re-up the disclaimer that all typos, grammatical and ethical choices are hers.
I have been haunted this week.
Mostly by the idea that I might be writing the wrong book. I’m 1,060 pages behind schedule. Writing the wrong book has to be what my problem is. Every time I sit down to write Fenchin’s story, I start thinking about all the other stories I’d rather be writing.
For example, the other day at lunch I told myself I was going to write one hundred pages, but went to buy some tide pens at Mr. Morgan’s instead. While I was nosing around the detergent and stain removal aisle, I suddenly imagined a whole story of tiny little people who live in a grocery store and fight ping pong battles on the shelves.
And then, when I went to get an emergency sundae at McDonalds, I imagined that the new brick exterior was actually a castle and I imagined that it was a very big castle (maybe I was still thinking about the little people and so I kept the castle to scale.) Anyways, the castle is SO big that it fits an ENTIRE COUNTRY in it!
Isn’t that so creative????
What if I’m supposed to be writing THOSE stories???
It’s haunting me, Gladys. I’m losing sleep over it. Ms. B___ isn’t talking to me and has threatened a restraining order after my clairvoyant palm reading. That’s depressing too. All I did was tell her that her palm indicates that—within a year, a mysterious fire will rage over her house and this entire neighborhood following an army of Neil Gaiman Golems and ghostly moose and that, as a result of her up-cycled wine bottle fountains melting, she’ll discover her youngest isn’t really at University of Ohio studying pet programming but that he took her money and went to Thailand to start a mouse circus. And that she has abominable breath.
Meanwhile, the other way I’m being haunted is just by that thing in my walk-in closet that keeps jiggling the door handle.
I went to BAM again in hopes of triggering my ability to write and I looked at all the new books out and got depressed and a little bit angry. My book should be up there with those other books but I can’t seem to get it written.
Anyway, I felt so despondent that I went over to the self-help section and looked at all their books on how to write and bought five of them and put them on my new credit card. I started to read one of them but my eyes just kept crossing except for this one part where they talk about CHEKOV’S GUN!!!!
Get ready for this Gladys. This is REAL writing technique. I’m not sure you’ll understand so I’ll explain it very carefully.
Apparently, Chekov was a writer, or a gun collector, whose guns were always taken down from the wall and fired in the third act and essentially that means that the rules to writing are that you have to put a gun somewhere on one of the walls and then you’ve got to SHOOT AT SOMEBODY IN THE THIRD ACT!!!! And it doesn’t matter who you shoot it at. Or if they’re also pointing a gun at you. Or if you miss. Or if you just shoot it to make some noise. YOU JUST HAVE TO SHOOT IT!!!! Isn’t this amazing?
SO THAT’S HOW BRANDON SANDERSON DOES IT.
I knew that there was a secret formula to writing a book!!! Now I’m realizing that all I have to do is put a lot of guns in the backstory so that they all fire at the end!! Magical guns, of course.
But that’s hard. Because that means I have to know how the story ends at the beginning!! I’m going to do something entirely new, Gladys, I’m going to write the end first!!! Then, when I have all the guns go off, I’ll know what to put in the beginning!! Then this backstory won’t be so boring and besides I won’t keep doubting that I’ll ever finish this book because I’ll have finished the book FIRST!!!
I’m starting not to get along with my house again. It’s getting to be the full moon and it’s getting that feeling that it gets that makes me want to be anywhere but here. I never had this feeling when C____ was alive. I think it’s because I’m alone. I think I need to either get a roommate or some beanie babies.
Also, I’m really busy right now trying to unravel this mystery of who was in my yard last week. I went over to my evil neighbor A____’s house and confronted her and demanded my shoe back but she wasn’t home. Instead I ended up talking to her mumble rap nephew, R____. I was going to accuse him of standing in my back yard with the bowler hat, but he has a head full of thick, long dreads and can’t fit the bowler hat on his head. We tried. So it couldn’t have been him. Besides, he’s really nice and I don’t think his foot would fit my missing croc, either.
So now I’m still missing my right croc and I have this mysterious hat. I’m sending you a picture of it. Never mind the chicken feathers on it, the rain still hasn’t washed them all away since The Incident. My question is, who would be wearing this hat and standing in my backyard and why would they take my right croc???
I’m down one and a half pairs of shoes in three weeks. Anyways, it’s getting late and that thing that’s in my closet upstairs has started jiggling the door again. I think I’m going to sleep down here. The good news is that R____ said he’s starting a little handyman business so he’s going to come over tomorrow and look at the closet door and see if he can fix it.
At least The Society seems to be leaving me alone.
I wish C____ were still here. It was cruel what Brian told me. That C____ might not be dead. It goes to show you what a stupid person Brian is. If C___ were here, things would be very different. I would probably still be writing True Blood fan fiction.
Tomorrow IT’S GONNA BE A BIG WRITING DAY!!! I’ll work on the last 171.9 pages of my book! I’ll send you pages after that but keep in mind that everything will be in REVERSE ORDER. I don’t have to warn you about spoilers because when you read it from the end, you’ll still have to find out what the beginning and middle are so that will be interesting for you. Also, things will grow more and more calm as you progress through the story.
In the future, I’m going to sell a writing book about writing a fantasy saga starting at the end. I know that it’s going to work because I’ll have finished writing the book at the very beginning of the process. So that means I’ll also have had the confidence to finish the writing book about writing a book backwards.
Maybe I should start writing the writing book about writing a book backwards first. It’s like a Chekov 21 Gun Salute all the way down!!! This is gonna be easy!!!
To celebrate, I’m going to search for my croc. It’s custom made!!!