An Experiment in Present Tense: The Points Between Chapter One

Submitted by Christopher Wright on

The Points Between is on hiatus until July (and hasn't updated since last November) but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything with it. I actually have part of Chapter 26 written (just not all of it) and, since it is a story that is radically different from anything I've ever tried to write before, I spend an awful lot of time brooding over it and tinkering on it. I often wonder how I will rewrite it, when the time comes.

Enter Curveball. This prose comic is very different in style and tone than TPB, but it is also similar in one respect -- I've never written anything quite like it before. In Curveball's case the difference is that I'm writing it in the present tense, something that, at one point in my life, I swore I would never do.

I swore I would never do it because the first time I read a story written in present tense I hated it. It took effort and it made me tired when I was finished. For a long time I assumed it was because the tense made the setting of the story too immediate and artificial. Now I think it may have been the author didn't use it correctly, because I've read other stories where it worked quite well (Howard Tayler's short in Space Eldritch is a good example of present tense done well.)

I don't know if I'm using it well in Curveball or not, but it feels right. And I notice that as I'm writing in present tense (which feels incredibly difficult to me, still) I'm forced to think about the story differently and it occasionally leads me to write in ways I wouldn't have considered before. Which is neat.

So a few months ago, as an exercise in "trying to look at old material in a new way," I decided to take the prologue and first chapter of TPB and re-write it in present tense, to see if it helped me look at the story in any differently, to see if it changed the tone of the story, for better or for ill... and mostly just to see what would happen. The results were interesting to me--the result feels different from the original, and in the process of writing it I wound up adding hints of things that weren't touched on in the story till later. I printed out a hard copy to edit and then promptly forgot about the whole thing...

... until this weekend when I found the hard copy as I was sorting through stuff to pack or throw away. The soft copy was still sitting on my hard drive. I still think it's interesting. And since I don't have a lot else planned for the site this week, I figured I'd post it. So if you're curious to see what the opening of The Points Between looks like when told in present tense, it's right here, under the cut.

Limited Support for Mobile Devices

Submitted by Christopher Wright on

Eviscerati.Org now has limited support for mobile devices. "Limited" because it's still based on the non-mobile theme and the text isn't very optimized for mobile browser viewing. Tablets will probably do OK. Smartphone browsers will still probably not be the best user experience in the world -- you may want to view the site in landscape mode to mitigate some of the issues.

The Sickness Within: Part Four

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Curveball, by Christopher B. Wright
Last Friday

It’s 6 AM and Doyle is getting ready for work.

He stands in front of the bathroom sink, wearing a pair of brown slacks and a white t-shirt, meticulously shaving. He can hear his wife Clara in the kitchen, making breakfast, his son Doyle Junior in a playpen in the living room, and the TV, turned down low, buzzing with some morning show nonsense in the background.

Doyle finishes shaving, washes his face, then steps out into the hall, making his way to the kitchen. Clara’s making pancakes.

The Sickness Within: Part Three

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Curveball, by Christopher B. Wright
Last Thursday

The Haruspex Analytics situation room isn’t like the board room. The board room is intended to intimidate; one of its primary functions is to distract people who aren’t accustomed to it. The situation room is set up to minimize distractions while accessing information and making decisions. It’s a long, narrow room with a long, narrow table sitting at the center. Paneled display screens are set into the walls, and each place at the table has its own computer and monitor, tied into the communications network Haruspex Analytics uses to conduct its various operations, in real time, across the globe. Pizza boxes, soda cans and half-empty mugs of cold coffee are scattered across the table.

Jason sits alone in the room. The only light comes from his monitor and one of the large screens set into the wall. The monitor is flashing a Haruspex Analytics screen saver. The screen is showing a map of the United States, with a line tracing a bus route from southern New Jersey to Jackson, Mississippi.

Missed them in New Jersey.

Missed them in Mississippi.

Jason exhales slowly, eyes closed, as he tries to coax the exhaustion out of his body. They didn’t get off at Jackson: obviously they passed their tickets off to two of the other passengers at one of the intermediary stops. They could be halfway across the United States right now, and Jason doesn’t even know where to look.

Curveball and Jenny Forrest are officially in the wind.