Long time since I could sit down to post properly.
I am reading H.P. Lovecraft criticism for fictional reasons. I hadn't before encountered Fritz Leiber's wonderfully lucid explication of the science-fictional aspects of Lovecraft's horror. These have puzzled me, since, as a product of my era's mythology, I grew up thinking of the vastness of space as a mostly benign Star-Trekkian frontier.
That reminds me.( Digression for Star Trek dream. )
He... firmly attached the emotion of spectral dread to such concepts as outer space, the rim of the cosmos, alien beings, unsuspected dimensons, and the conceivable universes lying outside our own space-time continuum. [Leiber, p.51]
Can you think of other writers who did this particular thing, talked about the horror of space, rather than falling into what I will spontaneously dub the pseudo-western or pseudo-naval subgenres? Rather than the model of frontier / air/sea warfare / some combination of the two -- others who wrote about the weight of emptiness, so to speak?
So I'm writing, and talking about it doesn't seem to be ruining it. I'm writing with great joy and excitement, and I think this is the most whole story I have ever written. The story is connected, sort of, to Lovecraft, though not to the horror of space -- more to the corporeal horror of "The Thing on the Doorstep."( A digression still involving Lovecraft, but pulling in Neil Gaiman and other recent reading, to return eventually to a point about what I mean by 'most whole story'. )
This story has a wholeness of action that I haven't accomplished before. Still, the pivotal point seemed flat, like old ghost stories that can't frighten you because you know their tropes too well.
The excellent Z. came over the other night, and I screwed up my courage to ask for her opinion. I described my plot as it stood, and I said, "I just can't help feeling it should be more horrible. It's supposed to be uncanny, but the climax feels both correct and insufficient. It fits the genre and the action, but it's not awful enough. Does there need to be a tentacled creature appearing from the corpse or something? That seems like bringing in too many elements."
[N.B. I was somewhat drunk and not nearly this articulate.]
"Well, what if x?" she said.
"I thought of x," I said, "But it didn't seem quite... although... if x happened this
way... Hey now.
She smiled. And that was all it took to solve my dilemma -- courage, and one extremely clever friend.
I think that's the first time I've ever asked for help thinking through a plot. Historically, I hoard the story to my chest, crooning over it, even watching it die for lack of nourishment, because I'm afraid it will wither if anyone sees it.
I'm hoping to finish it this weekend, at least to complete draft stage. And then...