Monday, March 07, 2011

The Devil’s Rematch—Spencer Ellsworth

"The Devils' Rematch" is a classic example of why I should nail myself to this laptop and write. It was an idea I'd had years ago, and written the first half until I decided that it wasn't working. I The Devil's Rematch - smallx had no idea what I was doing with the Devil. A few years later, I had made the goal to finish a short story every month, and I pulled out this one and finished it. I decided I could keep the Devil as a generic MacGuffin who didn't do much besides stoke the fires that had been simmering in this little town. When I was done, I had a perfectly serviceable story, I thought, except it was the old cliche about the Devil coming to town. But of course, a year later I had a goal to send out more stories, so this one hit the mail and IGMS snapped it up. I've sent stories to IGMS that were supposed to explode the earth with awesome; instead they picked this one. Again, I guess I'd better keep writing because I'm not quite sure what works.

The story hit an interesting snag in that the original draft had a few instances of the N-word. When Scott Card declined to print the word, my first reaction was "Mark Twain said the N-word." My second reaction was "I'm not Mark Twain." My third reaction was "Cookie." That's always my third reaction.

Eric James Stone, brilliant assistant editor that he is, had the idea to make the mayor self-censor, hence the passages where he says "I'm not gonna tell you what he said, but it was something that shouldn't be said in polite company, or ever..." Once I implemented that, the mayor because a much more interesting character. He was always too polite to say the N-word and having him do so, when Elmer kisses his daughter, had rung hollow for me in the first draft. Now, when he says "you people," it communicates the subtle racism he's carried around his whole life.

--Spencer Ellsworth

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