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Fic: The Mechanic's Tale (Valiant Tales)

Title: The Mechanic's Tale
Series: Valiant Tales.  Read them in order here.
Rating: G
The Master (Simm), other characters
Genre: drabble
Spoilers: Minor spoilers for The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords.
Summary: A series of drabbles about the people who lived, worked, and suffered on the Valiant during the Year That Never Was. 100 words according to MS Word.
Disclaimer: The sandbox belongs to RTD and the BBC. I'm just playing here, in the corner, making little sand-TARDISs.

A/N: People keep asking how I cram so much into 100 words.  I don't know if I can explain the process, but here's an example for those who are curious: the finished drabble, followed by the original 204-word draft.  Usually, first drafts are about 120-160 words.


My job is about little things.  Even here somebody has to change lightbulbs, tighten valves.  It keeps me from thinking about stuff I miss, like mowing the grass – my least favorite childhood chore.  Now I’d do anything to feel the sun, smell that sweetness. 

The guards know I’m the go-to guy for problems like a rattling ventilator in your bunkroom.  I get favors in return.  Coffee.  New socks.  The best was from a shuttle guard:  a square foot of turf from the runway median.  I water it regularly.  Saturdays, I trim it with scissors. 

My life is about little things.

And now the first draft:

My job is all about little things.  This ship is like something out of “Star Wars”, but someone still has to change the lightbulbs, tighten loose valves, and lubricate moving parts.  It keeps me busy.  Keeps me from thinking about the stuff I miss.  Not what you’d expect, like pizza and bowling.  Weird things.  Like riding the subway or mowing the grass.  That was my least favorite chore when I was a kid.  Now I think I’d give a million bucks to feel the sun on the back of my neck, and inhale that sweet smell. 

The guards all know me.  I’m the go-to guy for problems that would otherwise be low priority, like that rattling ventilator that keeps you awake all night.  I get small favors in return.  Chocolate.  New socks.  The last thing I scored was from a guard on a cargo run.  He thought I was crazy, but I got what I wanted.  An 8-inch square of turf from the runway median.  I keep it in a pie-pan under a fluorescent light, and water it religiously.  Once a week, I trim it with a pair of nail scissors.  It’s a little thing, but my life is all about the little things.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2008 11:15 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing that with us (both the draft and the real thing)

Loving it.
Nov. 6th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Nov. 6th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
Once again, this packs a punch. Thanks for the look at a bit of your process!
Nov. 6th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Glad you liked it.
Nov. 6th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Nov. 6th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Nov. 7th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
Oooh, interesting. They both have a wallop, but in a different way.
Nov. 8th, 2008 12:59 am (UTC)
Thanks. Sometimes, I really hate to lose some of the details from a drabble. But when I look at these two versions, the second one seems... sloppy to me.

I think the drabble writing is helping me trim some of the excess verbiage in my longer fics.
Nov. 8th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
Hm, don't think I'd call it sloppy. Just...different. Both have a different pacing and a different dramatic impact. Like the detail about the pie plate conveys something different than the drabble without it, know what I mean?
Nov. 8th, 2008 01:26 am (UTC)
I see what you mean. It's partly that I've gotten to associate short fics with a terse, spare style. Details that I'd keep in a multi-chapter story just feel wrong here. *searches for musical analogy* Like playing the blues on a harpsichord?

And maybe this is another case of authorial blinders. Because I know a lot of background details -- not just the ones that get trimmed from the drabble, but the ones that never even make it into the first draft. (Carmela gave him that pie plate.) And, of course, even after the drabble is cut down to 100 words, I still know all those other details. But I guess to someone else, the details are new and interesting.
Nov. 8th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)
Hrm...I'd say like the difference between a five minute piece and one lasting 45 minutes. :) Different scale? Maybe I'm just thinking musically, since I've been under my dissertation-shaped rock lately.

I think you should do a "DVD commentary" on them. I'd love to read it.
Nov. 8th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC)
Hrm...I'd say like the difference between a five minute piece and one lasting 45 minutes. :)

I'll take your word for it. I don't know enough about the structure of music to fully get that analogy.

I think you should do a "DVD commentary" on them. I'd love to read it.

A DVD commentary on individual drabbles, or on the whole series? In either case, I'm not sure I'd know how. I've read a few commentaries by other authors. Those have been on much longer stories, with interspersed annotations about the choices behind particular lines or plot details. But for a drabble?? *frowns perplexedly*
Nov. 8th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
Author's choice? :) I like reading about people's ideas behind fics, but it could be the recovering lit major.
Nov. 8th, 2008 06:49 am (UTC)
You're very wicked to try and distract me. I have a WIP, and I've just signed up for my first ficathon.

I'll think about it. :-)
Nov. 8th, 2008 06:50 am (UTC)
Cool! I did one ficathon one year for bringthehappy, and it was actually pretty fun.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )



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