P. Orin Zack's Blog

Topical Short Stories: massage into brain, repeat as needed

P. Orin Zack

P. Orin Zack
Renton, Washington, US
June 22
Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at Florida Institute of Technology during the Apollo years, I ditched out and walked into a data center job with Franklin National Bank a few years before it made history. Software contract houses, like the one I signed up with after the layoff, not only offered paid benefits, but kept paying you between contracts while they searched for your next gig. Of course, by then, I'd already been infected with the ideas of Edward de Bono, so my approach to problem solving, and therefore every part of my life, including writing, was tacking towards uncharted territory. Since then, I've worked on a remote weather station for NOAA and on NASA/JPL's Deep Space Network, diddled with a huge database for a DOD competition at what used to be McDonnell-Douglas, subverted the design of the database driving one of the Air Force's aircraft test sets, wrote tech docs in the 'Dead Languages Group' at Microsoft, and even created the entire IT infrastructure for a manufacturing business I co-owned. And all along the way, I wrote. So far, there's three novels, as well as lots of short stories and essays. Some of which you can read right here

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APRIL 3, 2012 8:55PM

Genesis of a Story: Part 2

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Continuing with this experiment, I'm posting notes about the development of a new story while I'm working on it.

Staging: At what point do we dip into the action? We want to give the reader some context at the start, so the attack could happen while a member of the network is in the midst of smoothing the way for the woman he's helping. (What was she doing? Arranging living quarters?) Our antagonist break into the discussion, shows doctored pictures of the woman depicting her as a slut, and of the man purporting that he's lured other women into this trap and then raped them (or something).

That where I left off last time. I've thought some more about how the action could play out. Here are my latest thoughts...

In order for Rahila's interview to be interrupted, it would have to be somewhere that the troublemaker could easily get into, such as a cafe. Because it's happening in public, it's easily interrupted by someone intent on making a scene and attracting attention. Our cast at this point would be the interviewer, Rahila, and the man vouching for her, who perhaps had made the connection with the employer and performed the introduction. In this configuration, Rahila could be presented as a client by the man helping her out.

However we present the interview, it is cut short by an interloper, whose objective is to derail whatever is being done by loudly making claims about the man, playing at 'defending' Rahila from him, while at the same time suggesting that she is immoral, and incidentally killing the negotiation they were in the midst of. Is the interloper alone, or has he brought an entourage, news people on the lookout for a juicy scandal, perhaps?

Questions: If we start there, where does this story go? Was the man prepared for this? How does he react in the moment? Does he stand his ground, or beg off to safeguard his own standing? If this incident involves the media, does he even have the choice? If this wasn't the first such incident, then the man may have been alerted to the possibility through the support network. If he knew it might happen, what might he have done differently, or was he just hoping he would not be slimed as well?

Sketching out the interruption, then… We open with the man making introductions, presenting Rahila as a model employee with impeccable credentials. The troublemaker barges in, couching it as being of service to the employer. He accuses the man of deception, to get the woman a job in exchange for sexual favors, thereby impugning her morals. The interviewer turns on the man, asking if there's anything to what the troublemaker says. But the troublemaker doesn't gimp a moment to answer, instead jumping in and focusing on Rahila's character.

The man rises to face his accuser, only to discover that the guy wasn't alone. Behind him there are several people, including at least one with a smartphone recording (or streaming) the incident.

I haven't decided how the confrontation goes from there, but I suspect I'll need to start learning about my characters in order to know how they react. Stay tuned...

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