Crafting the Story

On various forums I visit, people continually wonder about the writing process so I thought I would take you along with me as I construct my story for Moonstone’s Avenger anthology.

Shortly after being invited to join in the fun on February 17, I jumped on line to refresh myself on data regarding the character. Obviously, I started at Wikipedia and from there followed links that led to fan sites about the series. Some had scans from actual pulp magazines; others had story by story descriptions and so on. I cut and pasted much of this data into a word document for easy reference.

Joe Gentile at Moonstone sent out a series of e-mails that contained, no surprise, much the same information and from many of the same sources. However, his notes came with his editorial perspective so we knew which elements he favored or which contradictions should be ignored. He also attached a series of jpegs of the Warner paperback covers from the 1970s plus a schematic of the Avenger’s Manhattan HQ. All of it was valuable information and nice to have the jpegs at hand.

I also went on line and obtained Warner’s release of the first novel from a used book site. My WWN colleague, Paul Kupperberg, was also invited to contribute and had done the same but wound up with the second book. We swapped and read both adventures to get a better feel for the series and characters. (The concepts and characters are good, but these were not among the better written pulp stories of the day.)

During all of this, which spread out over 2-3 weeks, I began thinking of where to set the story. After all, I don’t have the luxury of a novel but instead 5000 words. That meant I needed something compact and as I thought of that and Manhattan in 1939 (when the series debuted) it occurred to me that a Harlem Jazz club might be a fun locale.

Once I had a setting, I began to wonder what would bring the Avenger to a Harlem jazz club and a notion occurred to me that I thought would work. Soon thereafter, a character suggested herself that would allow me to give the larger story some emotional impact. She named herself, or so it seemed.

Having finished my reading on Friday, I spent some of Saturday research Harlem and the jazz clubs of the day. While reading on the major clubs, I selected one which would provide me with ample room for the Avenger to do his thing rather than spend 5000 words with him sitting at a table in the back of the room. Once I learned more about the club’s layout, some of the choreography began to suggest itself.

Before I knew it, all the various notions coalesced enough that I was able to begin outlining the story. I will finish that today, let it marinate for a day or two, and then send it off to Joe for approval.

It has certainly been a nice break from the last few months of pure non-fiction research and writing and I look forward to seeing how this develops.