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Showing posts from October, 2012

The Problem With Flash Fiction

Since starting this blog, I have made a few attempts at flash fiction. Sometimes the results are decent, sometimes not so decent. I enjoy the challenge of getting a story in under a certain number of words, but I find it so, so hard.

I like to write. I like to write lots of words. I like to write so many words that boiling them down to 300 (the most common word count I've come across for blogfests) makes my brain hurt. How do you get a whole story into 300 words? I have no idea, but some people do it, and they do it very well.

Not me. I always get hung up on describing things, and before you know it my word count has been wasted on describing the actions of characters, the leaves on the trees, the way a character looks, but nothing has actually happened.

I understand the reason for the low word counts. You have a blogfest with 50-100 people writing stories. Nobody is going to bother reading a 1000 word story for each of them. I get how it makes me a better writer, showing me where I use words needlesly, and where I repeat myself (how I love to repeat myself), but I never get the story that I want to tell on the page.

What I usually try to do is just write a story and then start cutting bits and pieces off until I hit the magic number, but that doesn't always work. The story I put up for Spooktoberfest was the third idea I had, and even then, the story of Colby and Gabe ended up a ghost of its former glory. I could not cram the other two into that box.

Apparently there's such a thing as 50 word flash fiction, which to me is just a one-way ticket to Crazytown.

Time For Spooktoberfest


Below is my entry for Spooktoberfest.  For this one there are some rules:
  • 300 words
  • Must contain the following words:
    • Razor(s)
    • Jack o' Lantern(s)
    • Ghost(s)
    • Cobweb(s)
    • Cauldron(s)
This is a blog hop, so click on the pic above to see the full list of participants.

I would appreciate any feedback you would like to give in the comments, even if it's the constructive kind.  Here we go:

---

Colby watched Gabe snatch a plastic ghost from a porch covered with neon green cobwebs, and punt it across the street where it landed next to a blow-up cauldron. The boy ran, laughing like a maniac.

Colby glanced around, expecting someone to come out and yell at them, but the street was silent. The only witnesses were a trio of Jack o' Lanterns sitting on the steps of a green house.

He found Gabe on the next block standing in front of an empty house with a foreclosure sign in the yard.

“I dare you to go in,” Gabe said.

“No.”

“Scared?”

“Yes.”

“I'm not.”

“Let's just go,”

Gabe made a cry baby face, and Colby squeezed his hands into fists.

“I'm gonna go in.” Gabe climbed the steps and walked across the creaking porch to a broken window. He stuck his head through the opening and looked around before climbing through.

Colby was getting paranoid, sure that someone was watching by now, but this street was even darker and quieter than the last. He waited forever for the other boy to come back before finally stepping onto the porch. “Gabe?

Screams tore out of the broken window, piercing the silence, and sending him shrieking his own cries of terror, off of the porch.

“Ahhhh! Help! Help!” It sounded like werewolves with razor blades for claws had a hold of Gabe.

Colby ran.

He kept running even when the screaming stopped and the laughing started.

“Come back, you big baby!”

Geez, I hate him, he thought as his legs pumped and his lungs struggled for air. In that moment he wished that werewolves were real, just to take care of people like Gabe.

The unbearable randomness of being

I have been kind of avoiding posting lately, because everytime I think I have a good idea to write about, it kind of wanders off into the random whirly doodle of my brain. So today I thought, just to keep in practice, I'd go ahead throw some things out there.

I've been hanging around Scribophile a bit, trying to do some critiquing, looking at other peoples writing, and comparing myself both favorably and unfavorably to other writers out there. I can't help it.

I have been banging around with this new idea I got a couple of weeks ago. I'm really excited about the premise, but I can't figure out where it's supposed to go. I can't decide who the bad guy is supposed to be, and why they're bad. My lack of plotting prowess is driving me crazy, but the characters keep bugging me to start writing anyway.

I've been thinking about ways to flesh out my first WIP, Weaver. I'm waiting on some more feedback before starting on the next round of revisions, but one of my worries is word count. Draft 1.5 comes in at somewhere around 73,000 words, which seems kind of short for the genre, and about 2000-3000 of those words are going to get cut right off the bat (my protaganist does a lot of wandering around for a couple of chapters that really doesn't need to be there.)  Everyone seems so hung up on word count, and I wonder how important is that? I don't want to fill up my story with a bunch of crap just to meet a number.

Call me snob, but I will never take book suggestions from 40 year old women who have Twilight posters hanging on their cubicle walls. It's not so much that they read the Twilight books. Or even that they've obviously seen the movies. It's the calendars. I can't explain it, but to me that just screams "You will hate yourself if you read anything this person suggests!"

Apologies to any of my readers who have a Twilight poster/calendar/Jacob plush doll in your workspace.  I'm sure you have impeccable taste. In furniture.
This is what I got when I googled "Twilight Jacob Plush"

Everyone is getting excited for NaNoWriMo next month. I'm going to keep my sanity and just abstain from all that. Enjoy all those stress induced nightmares where you type all night and the word count never rises; I'm going to be relaxing and enjoying the far more sleep compatabile activity of not spending every free minute writing.

First Critique Is In...

I came back from an eventful Cub Scout camping trip to find my first MS critique in my inbox. I was so excited, yet so nervous to read it. Finally I made my self go through it and...

It wasn't completely horrible! Actually it wasn't horrible at all.

After I hit send to throw my work out into the universe, I immediately remembered all of the things that I forgot to fix: the inconsistencies, the chapter that was cobbled together from different parts that didn't quite get smoothed over, and-knowing where how all this began-I was was really worried about boring my reader to death. She still had enough life left in her to send me her thoughts, so at least that last fear was unfounded.

I'm still waiting on a second CP, and enjoying my time away from the story. I need a break from it, because it has occupied so much of my time for the past 5 1/2 months. First haphazard draft, and first haphazard re-write really take a lot out of person.

In the meantime I had a brain blast of an idea this past week that I'm toying with, but I don't know if I have the ability and energy to work on two WIPs at a time.  Especially since the new idea would be a lot harder to organize and write (multiple POVs, a bit of world building, and a lot of conflict in the story). I am a pantser, but this idea would require some form of outlining before I could even begin, otherwise I know I would get frustrated trying to keep the details straight and quit. However, I hate the idea of planning a story ahead. To try to ease my pain, I've been shopping around for different ideas of organizing the story without losing a lot of the spontaneity I love about writing.

Does anybody have any ideas or suggesions for outlining a novel without actually outlining it?

IWSG: October



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! (click the button on the right for the linky list of participants)
 
I just started writing again last spring. I used to write when I was a kid and in high school, but I was the type of writer who would never let anyone see anything I ever wrote down. Then, I just kind of fell away from it and it got to the point where I had gone 5 years without writing anything other than emails. Then I tried to write, but I was turned off of my obvious lack of talent; I suffered from a terrible case of Mary Sue-ism, and I kept trying to copy other, more talented, and more famous writers. It was like something a twelve year-old would write. So I quit again.
 
Well, I'm back again, with a better understanding of my short comings, and what made it so hard for me to write before. I've been writing most days for several months now. So what's my big insecurity?  I'm afraid that after a year, I'll just quit again, and then for the rest of my life every time I look at a blank page, I'll be forever reminded of the time I was almost a writer.
 
Which sort of weirdly segues into the question: At what point does one become a writer, instead of someone who writes? Is it just a natural progression where one day you wake up and realize "I'm a writer?" Is it the day you get your first offer from an agent? Is it when you finally make enough money selling your scribblings that you never have to drive 80 miles a day just to get to and from work ever again?

When did you start calling yourself a writer? Are you like me and still shy away from the title?

Inspiration Monday: October

It's another first Monday of the month, and it's time for another Inspiration Monday post.

I took a break over the past month, trying to get my MS ready for my CPs, and I had no time to really think about blogging, so I didn't plan anything for this post. The only things I could come up with fell more into the Schadenfreude/gloating category. Maybe I'll write about that some other time, but it's just not right for an inspiration post.

Then I thought about Stephen King. I've been thinking a lot about Mr. King lately. He's my favorite author, and I've always liked his novels and short stories. But I really didn't get him until I read On Writing. Up until then I was still under the impression that he pounded out Carrie, his first novel, in a week, sent it to the publisher and was rich and famous from there on out. Turns out, he worked on his writing for years, and at the time Carrie was published (after the manuscript was rescued by his wife from the garbage can), he was working as a high school English teacher, living in a trailer with no phone because the phone had been cut off, and worrying about paying for medicine for the baby. (note: I may be getting some of this wrong, it's been a couple of years since I read the book, and maybe different parts of this happened at different times, but it's all in there somewhere).

By the way, how awesome would it be to be able to say that Stephen King was your high school English teacher?

Anyway, Stephen King had to work hard to get where he is today. At some point he did hit the level where he could turn in 10000 blank pages with his name on the cover page, and it would be a best seller, but he takes his writing seriously, and he hasn't gotten lazy about it (looking at you Dean Koontz).  If he can do it, I can at least sell a single copy of something I write.

(don't get me started on Dean Koontz)

So, that's my rambling inspiration post. What inspires you?

One more thing: Goals for October.

  1. Get my MS off of my hard drive and into the CPs inboxes by the end of the week.
  2. Build up some Karma points over at Scribophile.
  3. Start writing something short.