'Foot Falls' was one of the more difficult stories I have ever written. There was no difficulty with
defining my 'vision' of the story. That part was easy. From the moment the story blossomed in
my poor over-worked brain, I knew how I wanted it to play out and what effect I wanted it to have
on the reader. Execution was more of a problem.
As the liner notes mention, I rewrote it more than once, searching for the right voice. I had
experimented with using 2nd person once before (In Passing), and was both awed and pleased by
what I can best describe as the "immediacy" that using 2nd person creates. I feel that it puts the
reader right inside the POV character's skin to a far greater extent than any of the other voices,
including 1st person. The drawback to using 2nd person is that it is not a commonly used voice,
and as a result, it can be a little tough on the reader if it is not handled well. The longer the story,
the more wearing it becomes.
As I was putting the first draft together, Foot Falls was, in my estimation, working out to be a little
bit too long to use 2nd person. So I changed it to 3rd person ... and hated it. I lost too much of
that sense of being right inside Aeryn, experiencing all of her emotions at the same time that she
does. So I changed it back. That may sound like a simply process of replacing pronouns and
adjusting verbs. No such luck. In some cases, entire paragraphs needed to be rewritten in order
to compensate for the change in viewpoint.
But that's not really why I sat down to write this wingnut!!
One of the more enjoyable and challenging aspects of writing science fiction is getting the science
part right. Since it's fiction, there's always the easy 'out' of employing alien science when a writer
cannot come up with an accurate Earth-based explanation for something works. Faster-Than-
Light drive is a perfect example. We don't have it, so attach an alien-tech Hetch Drive to the
Farscape module and John can zip around the galaxy at high rates of speed without ever figuring
out how FTL works.
Which is all well and good until you wake up one morning, and realize that you've totally screwed
the science in your story, and that you're going to have to rip out paragraph after paragraph that
plays off your "what-was-I-thinking?!?!?" botched science, figure out how the science really works,
and repair all those damaged bits.
I did that with Foot Falls. In spades. I had expended several million electrons exchanging
messages with my 'test driver', PKLibrarian, working out how and why Aeryn and the children were
immune to Hynerian Dermifolica. I wanted Aeryn to be able to focus on John without the
additional concern that the children would catch it, so I wanted them to be immune. We finally got
it all worked out so it seemed reasonable, I polished up all the relevant paragraphs, and went to
bed feeling very satisfied with the way the story was progressing.
The next morning, I woke up to the realization that if Aeryn and the children were immune, then
the relevant proteins, antibodies, DNA or whatever were swimming around in their blood, and
there was no need for them to get in touch with Braca, no need to acquire the blood and tissue
samples from Scorpius, and the line about how dermifolica has become the enemy that no one on
this side of the Scarran border knows how to stop goes right out the frelling window.
Time for another rewrite.
Frelling the science is fun though. When I have one of those "SHAZAAM!!! ... Oops!" moments, it
means that my brain is functioning, that I'm learning and thinking the theoretical stuff through,
and that I've finally woken up and started to pay attention to what I'm putting on the page. And
once I get past that wonderful feeling that I'm alive, I get to sit down and figure out how to fix
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