Thursday, December 15, 2011

Between the Lines - The Desktop and Laptop Computers

The release of my short story anthology is imminent! To celebrate, I thought I'd give my loyal followers another peek behind the creative curtain with a new Between the Lines post. We'll skip past The Copier for reasons I'll go into at another time and go straight toward the second to last story in the collection...

The Desktop and Laptop Computers

To start, this story was created with a specific purpose: To give expression to my very judgmental feelings regarding a certain chain of eateries. I don't know if they're like this in every city they're in, but this particular bakery is about as trendy as it comes, which of course meant that I had to poke fun at it in writing. It used to be that I'd make fun of people in Starbucks for the collection of laptops occupying every table. Now my mockery has a new target. I can't come right out and give the eatery's name, of course. That would be A Bad Thing, and I'm not about to sabotage my writing career before it starts by getting sued for libel. I can, however, switch around a couple of letters to create a fictional eatery with a similar enough name that astute readers should be able to figure out what it is without me coming out and saying the actual name. If you got it, points to you! If you didn't, don't worry about it, you're not missing much.

Aside from riffing on this eatery and the people who patron the establishment, I've been meaning to delve into gods who are co-workers as well as friends, similar to what I did with the Television and the Remote Control story. I wanted to take them out of the work situation and put them in casual mode, so I set the story in a bit of "downtime" that the two gods might share in the course of their duties. After all, even the most dedicated of gods needs to forge connections to those of like minds to expand their influence. I had my setting and my discussion, now it came down to forging the voice of each god.

It made sense to make the laptop god, who naturally would be ranting about this eatery that his domain is taken into constantly, the younger and hipper of the two computers. Being so mobile, he would be more well-traveled than the desktop computer, so I made him sort of a free-spirited, jet-setting kind of character. His counterpart, the desktop computer, would be older and more reserved. The contrast was a natural one, which I emphasized by putting the desktop computer in a business suit, to reflect the sheer number of desktops used in a corporate setting. While I didn't go into detail in the laptop's attire, I pictured him as much more casual and relaxed in his clothing (despite his energetic rant).

The names came to me easily enough. Since HP and Dell are two of the most widely used computer brands out there, it made sense to adapt them to my naming conventions. HP became the initials for Holland Parcell, and Dell became Dall. Parcell, incidentally, is a variation of a name found in my family, so my thanks go out to my cousin for marrying into a family name that I could use in a story!

Since I'm a big fan of MMOs, I couldn't help but bring them into a discussion between two computer gods. For curious parties, I used to roleplay on Sentinels server in World of Warcraft under the name Cynlan on Horde side, and these days I'll be active in Star Wars: The Old Republic as Jace Colton on the RP server Vrook Lamar. Feel free to say hi to me if you run into me in-game, but don't be too distressed if I don't get back to you right away. I may be in the middle of roleplay, or I could be in a boss fight.

Incidentally, if you have to ask what Dall meant by that comment of the other "good time" people use computers for, you're better off not knowing.

Finally, major props go out to Karuna Tanahashi for giving this story a critical eye and making some very sound editorial suggestions. It really made the difference in comparison to previous stories. Thank you, Karuna!

Got a question you'd like to ask about The Desktop and Laptop Computers story? Feel free to post it in the comments section below, and I'll answer it right on this very page!

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