Category Archives: Writers Resources

Thoughts, ideas and techniques

Random Thoughts on Blog-Stories

Recently someone told me that her uncle really liked The Monsters’ House, which is the first story in my short story collection, Seasons of Imagination.  I told her that I wasn’t too surprised, given how much symbolism there is in the story.  I then said that I really don’t use a lot of symbolism in my short stories.

“Why not?” she asked.

She had me there: why not?  I think it is because I typically write “flash fiction” instead of “short stories”.  My typical story is made for my blog.  It is usually very short.  Not including the 100-word Friday Fictioneers, my typical story runs about 1,000 words.  They tell a simple story.  The Monsters’ House is closer to 8,000, maybe 9,000 words.  It is complex.  The characters have time to breath and grow.  There is room for little motives and symbolism.

Still, why not?  Why don’t I use more symbolism?  I know it does creep into my stories, sometimes intentionally, usually not, i.e., subconsciously.  But I rarely sit down and think it through. Continue reading

Yeah, a Repeat – Free!

Fireborn Cover

In the shadowy area where myth and history collide….

Yes, I just posted this!  But it was before the “Free-sale” began.  So here it is again.

I really like my book, The Fireborn (of course I do: I wouldn’t put it out if I didn’t).  I think the premise is clever, and it’s a fun read.  At least I hope it is! So, yeah, I like it.

That being said…   The more I work on The Halley Branch, the more I think it is over all a better book.  Maybe a much, much better book.  Much, much, much better. Continue reading

This or That? Blurbs

Fiction

During my short break from editing The Halley Branch I have been throwing around blurbs and right now am stuck.  Yes, I can be a bit indecisive at times.  Don’t worry, I will eventually decided between the different variations I’ve come up with, but I wanted to ask your opinion.

I have one, with some slight variations, that uses a “tag line”.  That’s a little line at the beginning of the blurb that sums it up.  For instance, all of my posts on The Fireborn start with “In the shadowy area where myth and history collide“.  It is on the back cover as part of the blurb using a different color font.

I am going to put up the original version of the blurb with the tag line, since this is as far from the other I will post as possible (I have some inbetweenies…) Continue reading

A Question of Short Stories

I like to write short stories.  I guess you can tell since I write quite a few of them, perhaps an average of two a week, if we count the 100 word Friday Fictioneers stories.  Sure, 90% of the stories I write and post here are very 1-dimensional “flash fiction” stories.  They are quickly written, very short and have very little meat as far as characterization, plot depth, sub-plots, etc.  That doesn’t mean I can’t take them and flesh them out.

Back at the beginning of the year I self-published my first book, Seasons of Imagination.  It is a collection of short stories.  All but 4 had been “published” in some form on my blog, but they were all also greatly revised before making it to print.  That is, what I posted on my blog was little more than a first/rough draft while I went through at least five more drafts in the nine months between the time I made the final decision on which stories to include in the book and when I clicked “publish”. (FYI – After deciding on the stories, I deleted them off of my blog)

Since the cutoff date back for stories to include in Seasons of Imagination at the beginning of April in 2016, I have written some of my favorite works of short fiction.  I think my writing has grown.  I hope so, at any rate! Continue reading

The Telling of Backstory?

I recently completed my second draft of The Halley Branch.  Before I even think about doing a third draft, I need to solve an issue.  Maybe…

I have a bad habit in  my books to have a huge amount of history and backstory to fill out.  Sometimes backstory doesn’t need to be told, just implied, but in these stories, you have to know it to understand the present story.  I also include a lot of philosophy, which often is 100% needed to understand the story.  OK, so how do I get it out there?

In The Halley Branch I have four chapters that are dream like sequences where the main character has a dream or vision that tells him about the past (only one chapter is a dream).  I think this works well, but it only covers a couple of percent of backstory and philosophy.

So what did I do?  I have another four chapters of the main character talking to other people who tell him the history.  It all makes sense in the story and gives us pictures of the characters as much as it gives history and philosophy.  In other words, through the characters’ dialog I am telling you backstory, but I am also showing you vital information about the characters by their action, interaction, the words they chose, and how they chose to use them.

There are two problems, or two sides of one.  A lot of people would call this information dumping, which is really frowned upon today.  And people would say that it is “telling”, not “showing”, which is true.  However, I do have those other 30 chapters of showing, so do these four chapters ruin it? Continue reading

How Do You Draft?

hand

About two weeks ago I started a second draft of The Halley Branch, a novel I wrote for the blog in real time in 2015 (I wrote and posted a new chapter every day).  Last night I was talking to someone about drafting, and we were thinking slightly different things.  I am a little curious on people’s opinions about how to draft.  I know, each person does things their own way, like the old arguments about being a Planner or Pantser when writing the first draft, but I am still curious.

I see two major styles of drafting, Old School and Edited Draft.  OK, I made up that last one because I didn’t want to call it “The Lazy Way”, particularly since that is my current technique.  I’ll give you a definition as to how I see these methods. Continue reading

A few Notes on Genre

fireborn-005

I’ll admit that I’m a person who does not like to pigeonhole.  I don’t believe creative endeavors should have boundaries.  My favorite music often is in the cracks.  Yes, there are people who classify this same music with exactness, but if you actually listen to the music, or study it (which I have), you find that it just doesn’t fit.  I don’t think imagination should be boxed in.

And yet we do need those classifications.  Would you really buy music if you had zero idea what it was about?  The same, of course is true in fiction.  Genre is important.

As a reader, I have very eclectic tastes.  I’m sure you’re surprised ;)  I hate sticking to a single genre.  And truthfully, I very rarely pay attention to sub-genre.  I recently read a sci-fi book.  After reading it, I looked at reviews and was a little surprised that every review talked about the sub-genre and how well the book did, or didn’t fit that sub-genre.  Can’t you just freaking read the book for itself without pigeonholing it!?  I didn’t even know that sub-genre existed, and yet people were up in arms about it.  I thought it was a good book, so why argue that as a purple-western-star-bong sci-fi book the main character would never have said, “Hello”, she would have said, “Well, Howdy, fandango!”? Continue reading

Doing Some Reading, I Mean Editing

hand

I have recently been attempting to edit my book, The Fireborn.  Notice I say “attempting to edit”, not just plain, “editing”.

When I edit, I find myself in one of three modes:

  1. Real editing!  I look at every word with a discerning eye.  I make changes.  I delete things. I add things.  I correct things.  I am editing!
  2. Proof reading.  I read through and pick up some of the more obvious errors and correct them.
  3. Reading.  I read.  I enjoy.  I continue to read.

I sit down for an editing session.  After two hours I’ve discovered that I spent 5 minutes on “Real editing!”, 25 minutes on “Proof reading”, and about an hour and a half just sitting back, reading and enjoying myself.

Hmmm, what’s wrong with this picture?   Continue reading

Poetry and Prose – A Divergence?

Mt. Lafayette

Mt. Lafayette after starting down the ridge

Two paths either diverge or collide, I haven’t decided which…

Early in the history in my blog I decided to post a poem every Tuesday.  This was my first regular feature and the only one that has lasted.  In the past several weeks I’ve occasionally gone back and read a poem or two or five.  I am not a great poet, but I do enjoy many of them.

People who have been reading my blog recently might know that I am in the middle of a writing streak.  I’ve been posting quite a few stories, have been posting a serialized novel and have been editing two other books off line. My prose writing is full-steam ahead.

OK, here is where it all goes wrong. Continue reading

First Chapter of The Fireborn

Fireborn

Yesterday I had a post about first chapters.  At the end I said I would put up the first chapter of the first book I wrote, The Fireborn.  Read it and let me know if you didn’t like/wouldn’t read the book even at gunpoint/think it’s terrible, or, hopefully, that you liked it and want more!  Warning – this is very long.  Remember, it’s the first chapter of a book, not a short story (Oh, and I left in the section header):

Part I

Then the Irish kindled a fire under the cauldron of renovation, and they cast the dead bodies into the cauldron until it was full, and the next day they came forth fighting-men as good as before, except that they were not able to speak. –  Anonymous Medieval Welsh, Branwen the daughter of Llyr, Second of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi (The Mabinogion)

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Elliot Everett-Jones stepped out of his ancient Jaguar and headed towards the cluster of tents across the makeshift car park.  He was thinking that they were more temporary structures than tents per se, when the door of the largest one opened and a man walked out.  Elliot stopped in his tracks and let out an involuntary little gasp.  For half of a second he almost believed his father had come back to life, but then recognized his brother, William.  It surprised Elliot that he had never noticed how much William had become the spitting image of the late Dr. Everett-Jones, though he had to admit that William had changed in the year since he had last seen him.  Elliot waited, letting his brother come to him.  As he watched, Elliot realized that William had also inherited their father’s mannerisms and walked with the same steady stride.

William gave a short “Hullo” as he reached his younger brother.  Taking Elliot’s outstretched hand and slapping his shoulder, William smiled broadly and said, “Great to see you, Elliot!  Glad you can still drive on the proper side of the road after all of those years in America.  You made good time.  Did your rusty old Jag even touch the ground?  Everything coming towards you have a bit of a blue tint and everything behind shifted to the red, huh?”

Elliot returned his brother’s large grin and held his hand in both of his own.  “If I’d known what a nasty, barren plain you were dragging me to, I wouldn’t have hurried.  What a desolate hole you have here!” Continue reading