Day Four of my series on the inspirations behind An Unquiet Calm brings me (un)surprisingly to the fourth story: ‘Blossom’. There may be spoilers ahead.
‘Blossom’ was originally written for a flash fiction competition with the prompt Falling Rain.
The competition was on a run by a wargaming forum, so I thought (as proved correct) that most of the other stories would either feature bad weather interfering with operations, or use rain as a simile for barrages of shells. Therefore – although the use of cloud bursts as a symbol of emotional release is almost a cliché – I thought it might stand out.
However, there are two types of standing out; only one of which gets you reader engagement. So, I didn’t want to write a story that was entirely a metaphor for catharsis. Having already embraced a cliché, I decided the best way to draw in wargamers was to braid in a military cliché: Johnny has gone for a soldier.
With two clichés as the basis, I decided to go all out on the symbolism in the first draft and make everything a metaphor, image, or echo.
Although that was great fun, it wasn’t in any way military fiction; so – in a change from my normal process – most of the redrafting was toning down the resonance and making the descriptions less layered.