The plane touched down at dusk. Pinpoints of light came from various points in the city, almost enough to make one forget that it was abandoned. The clouds above us melded into a monotone gray, hiding the stars even as they reflected the sun’s dying moments.
I nodded. My bag was at my feet, and I swiped it in a single motion as I opened the door and let myself out. The tarmac was solid under my feet, a surprise after the floor panels of the small plane.
This is the second part of my overview of how to choose a subject for a story. My belief is that the best way to do this is to look at the various parts of the story from the perspective of finding the pieces before you begin, and finding authenticity.
You can find these elements in a plot or a character, so you aren’t tied into a dogmatic way of viewing the central mode of a story. This is a process of elimination: if you can’t find these things, your story is likely to have issues down the road.
The greatest challenge an author faces when preparing to write is choosing a worthwhile subject for their work.
This may seem trivial at the moment of conceiving, but having a faulty premise kills works-in-progress in their tracks and manifests in various problems difficult to track back to their source.
I don’t have an orthodox method for selecting a subject in mind: if you’re a plot-focused writer or a character-focused writer (Jeff Gerke writes about this in his Plot Versus Character), you will start from a different point. I often work around a theme or motif and take some time to figure out the subject once I’ve developed the message, but I’m cerebral in my approach to stories because of my background as a teacher.
Ultimately, choosing a subject will come down to the personality, proclivity, and aptitude of the writer. However, you can rule out poor subjects by applying a simple test.
I had Ellison on a cold-storage chip in my pocket. He’d fallen back at the ravine.
Could’ve happened to anyone, honestly. Maura’s a planet you don’t mess with. The anomalies still boil across the world’s surface.
One minute you’re rappelling down a cliff-face, and the next you’re leaving an impact crater because the rock you’d anchored to decided that it might not exist anymore.
Object permanence is a horrible thing to take for granted.
The comms still worked, and I’d called it in when it happened. With a skeleton crew, I didn’t get a response for two hours.
“We’ve got a copy of him on file, but take the chip with you.”
When I sought the Grail:
We had stopped in a peasant village close to the border of our kingdom. Dismounting after a long day’s ride, I walked around the town. Our lord’s banner hung from the town hall. But it did not matter–those who are seeking treasure must know their surroundings.
In truth, I feared that our adversary arrived before us. That devil, the snake whose name I will not speak, who had met us on the river as we set out on our quest and delivered us to brigands.
But there was no danger. Having assured myself that the stables were empty, save for the horses that worked the fields, and the houses contained no enemies, I returned to my companions.