Mash-ups and Mud Wrestling

I had a productive writing week. I managed to crank out a 5k word short story and get it sent off to the publisher. Now, as usual, I get to try to ignore the fact I sent it and wait around for several weeks to hear anything. Currently, I have three stories drifting around somewhere between slush and redemption. One, I know is in consideration for finals, the rest, meh.

Everybody wants genre mash-ups these days. I’ll be the first to say I’m sick of Fairy Tale “twists” – that trend dropped into the fiery pits of Mordor for me long ago. Sure, they can still be smartly done, but mostly the “twists” I read aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on (or the electrons as the case may be.) I have a theory that once something hits the popular media, it’s time to retire it in the literary world. So like when ABCs (*cough* Disney’s) “Once Upon a Time” was launched to be nothing but a shameless product placement vehicle, it is a topic past worth writing about. I know things like “Walking Dead” are still mega-popular, but again, for me, zombies are ummm, dead to me. Keep an eye out for Lovecraft’s Cthulhu to be the next to hit that over-saturation.

The last story I wrote was a Sword and Sorcery mash up. I’m a fantasy buff so I’m familiar with that sub-genre but I can’t say I’m “well read” in it. A bit of Howard, some Leiber, a dash of Moorcock and that’s really it. In order to pull off a convincing mash up, I did what I always do – I asked the Oracle; Google. Through her arcane web of knowledge she led me to a fascinating post over at the Black Gate. It’s a highly detailed run-down of what makes a story Sword and Sorcery as opposed to Heroic Fantasy and I highly recommend it.

Also during that project, I stumbled across another awesome resource. I was writing a scene in a marsh and had very blithely described something as “the sound of mud”. Ok, so I wasn’t feeling that creative after several hours of beating my head on the keyboard. It was filler. Lots of times, to get inspired, I go do things my characters are doing. Being extremely lazy and having a wife that recently cleaned all the carpets in the house, I wasn’t interested in tromping through mud. So, once again, I consulted the great and powerful Google.

Here’s what I came up with: http://www.pond5.com/sound-effects/1/*.html. It’s an entire stock media site crammed full of sound effects. And yes, they have the sound of someone running through mud. I know as writers we’re supposed to be imaginative and pull all this stuff out of our a$$. But you know, sometimes you need a place to start. So “the sound of mud” became a “rhythmic slurp”. Fine, it’s only marginally better, but it’s something.

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