Here I am, wrestling with this short story. I am adapting Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra into a Weird Western, Steampunk world. The themes of Shakespeare meld perfectly with Steampunk... the worlds of Rome vs. Egypt parallel sweetly the rigidity of Victorian sensibilities clashing with the wild lawless debauchery of the American west. Cleo is the typical antiestablishment, anti-heroine who thumbs her nose at those self-righteous smug poofs, and rail against being told what to do. She is in control, she calls the shots. Antony is enraptured by her, and compromises his honor and betrays his duty for her love. How perfect for this proper eastern 'Dude' to be seduced by the exotic woman of power, the "Queen of Spades", liege over her domain, the mining town of Crocodile Tears. Tony Pride has been sent by his business partners to negotiate with the Queen, Miss Cleo, for mining rights. It seems as if Cleo, and the community of the desert town of Crocodile Tears, are sitting on a motherlode of material and political wealth, which Tony and his business partners wish to acquire. Tony is sent as an emissary, to bargain land rights. Not only have the mines of Crocodile Tears been producing vast amounts of [yet unnamed], an ore used in the production of an incredibly lightweight alloy framing for airships, but the small town is located next to the only freshwater source for a hundred miles, the Little Nile.
Other graceful parallels stand out to me as well. Duty and Reason resonate both with Roman and Victorian notions of civil society. In the Weird West, as in Egypt, the normal framework of sexuality, identity and sexual power are not the same as in their Roman/Victorian counterparts. The personal issues of the dichotomy of passion versus reason, love versus duty, power and public accountability... all can be viewed from both the Roman and Victorian perspectives, creating wonderful conflicts in both sets of cultures.
The crocodile I am wrestling is this... I write big.
I want to keep this story below 45oo words. So I am struggling with how to get right into the meat of the story, start it off exciting and keep the pace going, yet finding a way to insert the needed steampunk flavor and exposition. When I write novels, this does not seem an issue, for I know how to weave it into the story over time. But, the crocodile I am down in the mud with, so to speak, is rolling furiously, trying to keep me off guard, and threatens to consume me... or at least the story. So off now, back to the manuscript. Back to this crock... I will beat him.
The trick is to do it quick!