The Gong Farmer and other tales

Fiction is tough to write. You have to create characters with backgrounds, emotions and motivations. Then those characters have to interact with other characters in a believable way. Dialogue has to sound realistic and actions have to make sense. The plot must be intriguing enough to capture readers’ interest and keep them along for the whole journey. Real life can certainly inspire and inform an author but crafting an original story takes a lot of effort. I know because I’ve given it a shot a few times with mixed results.

toiletsSeveral years ago I joined a group of writers telling stories using a shared fantasy world. Dargonzine is an online publication that’s free to read and boasts that it’s the “longest running electronic magazine on the Internet.” During my short time with the Dargon project I produced three stores. My first story, The Gong Farmer, was by far my favorite. It’s a ridiculous story based on an actual medieval occupation. My fellow Dargon authors weren’t excited about the lowbrow, scatological humor and readers either outright hated it or loved it.

I then put the main character from The Gong Farmer, Rish, through another character wringer in The Sanity of Spirit. This one was fun to write but as I look back on it I think it would have been better if Rish had experienced some change in character rather than staying so dogged right to the end.

I completely switched things up in the final story, Rattler’s Imp. It’s a much darker tale that disturbed some readers when it was published. I certainly understand what troubled them. The apparent lack of morals exposed in the ending can be shocking but I believe the characters’ actions are true to the world they live in. In this short story format it was difficult to fully explore and express character motivations, especially for a novice fiction writer like me.

Writing non-fiction has its challenges but it’s generally much easier for me to write than fiction. I’m a slow writer, stumbling around as I try to find the right words and sentences. When I wrote those three fiction pieces it was an agonizingly slow process that never got any easier. Fiction takes quite an investment of time and mental energy. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want to try again sometime. I had an idea for a fourth story about leeches and bloodletting but I left the Dargon project before I could tackle it.