Tag Archives: creative inspiration

I Need Help – Copyright Laws

Dabble - Sketch by Trent P McDonald

So I was doing a last run through of my short stories and got to the last story and stopped.  I had worried about it before but then decided it would be fine.  I’m not so sure now.

The story is based on the lyrics of a well known song.  There isn’t really much of a story in the song itself while my story is complex and might have bit of magic.  Maybe.  Very, very different from any story in the song itself.  And yet, it is there.  I never quote whole lines of the song (except a couple of key words here and there) and usually just paraphrased the song.  At the end of the story I give the song writers credit.  Before I put in that credit tag I had someone say they loved the story but there were too many cute cliches.  I told them the song I used, they went back, read it and laughed – that is were the cliches came from! Continue reading

A Bit of Truth Behind the Fiction

Baby Eagle

Baby Eagle

I had lived in New Hampshire for a little over a year.  I was having job issues and wasn’t sure what was happening in the near term.  I took walks and they became longer and longer every day.

One day as I was walking through the woods I heard an awful, pitiful cry.  A large white pine was straight in front of my, the trail turn as it reached it.  High above the trail there was a large bird on a branch with another large bird a bit above it on another branch.  I couldn’t tell what they were, but my thought was immature bald eagles.  They were huge.  Between the two birds was a squirrel.  The squirrel was screaming at the birds.  He obviously wasn’t ready to be bird food quite yet.  As i approached one of the birds flew off.  Not wanting to upset the balance of nature I quickly walked on.  For the next few months I looked for that bird every time I walked by that tree.  After two or three months I moved and have never been back to that trail (moved to a different part of the same town). Continue reading

Effect and Cause

The Insistance of Time

So, why does time flow in one direction only, why doesn’t it go the other way?  There is nothing in the equations that describe how the universe works that says time has to have an arrow.  Typically what is time’s arrow is justified by cause and effect and by the lack of reversibility.

You drop a plate on the floor and it shatters.  The plate hitting the floor is the cause of the shattering, the plate falling is the cause of it hitting the floor and a combination of you dropping it and gravity is the cause of it falling.  Cause and effect and the idea that it can’t go backwards gives time its direction.  The “flowing backwards” part, you know, the plate spontaneously reassembling and jumping up to your hand, in physics is part of entropy.  The universe has a tendency to become more random, less structured.  It can be reversed in a location by adding energy, but you can’t add anything to the Universe as a whole, so entropy increases, i.e., time marches on.

But what about those bundles of reverse entropy called “humans”? Continue reading

A Question of Names

woman portrait

When you write fiction, how do you come up with the names of your characters?  As I’ve been reading through my short stories once again I’ve been looking at names.  As I look at the names, that question about naming occasionally comes up.  Why did I choose that particular name and what would happen if I changed it?

First a few little details.  Between the short stories I’ve posted here, including the flash fiction and 100 word “Friday Fictioneers” stories, and the stories I have not posted, there are well over 200 stories that combined to more than 250,000 words.  Of course, if I toss in the two books I’ve written, at about 80,000 words each, we are talking about a lot of names, a huge number of names, perhaps thousands of named characters.  Sometimes it bothers me when I find a repeat, but over all I think I did a pretty good job keeping unique names. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday Linkup – Backstory

Walk

Once again I’m joining the Throwback Thursday Link Party hosted by Part-Time Monster, Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy  and  The Qwiet Muse   again.  The idea is to put up a link to a post that is at least 30 days old.  Again I decided to go back to the early days of my blog, December 27, 2013 to be exact.

As I mentioned last week, most of my early posts were along the lines of writer’s resources and cultivating creativity with the view of writing in mind.  This post was the first of a series about how walking helps spur my creativity.  Well, it went much farther than that.  For many of the stories I write, what is on page is just a small shadow of the whole story.  If the story is very involved there may be volumes of things I think about before I write it.  That’s what my throwback post is about, The Unwritten Backstory.  Enjoy!

Besides just my little blast from the past you should also go look at some others.  Go to the link-up linky and ready more or even participate.

The Vortex

Blackhole Mind

Trent was in his second floor study staring at a blank screen.  Not quite blank, for he had brought up a picture for inspiration.  After a moment’s hesitation his fingers began to fly across the keyboard.  Many of his short stories were created in a similar fashion, looking at a blank screen pushing thoughts and ideas through his mind waiting for something to stick.  Usually something did come up and a story would write itself.

After a few minutes Trent stopped and frowned.  The story was too stiff, too clichéd.  Perhaps a rewrite would fix it.  He deleted the story and started again.  Nope, not right, so he did it again.  Then again. No, it just didn’t work, the story was horrid.  It was a cool picture, but no good ideas were emanating from it.  He had posted forced ideas in the past, but most of the time after the initial spark the story would grow organically, taking a life of its own.  Not this time.  It seemed like his mind was caught in some type of vortex, swirling around without hitting any real point. Continue reading

Just What I’ve Been Waiting For

Stars

A few years back I wrote a handful of strange prog-rock tunes.  I had been composing classical music for years and was doing a switch-over to more popular music.  I played some tunes for a friend.  She gave me a weird look and asked, “Who’s your target audience?”  What?  I wrote the music I wanted to hear.

“Fine,” she said.  “If you want to go on writing music for yourself and playing it for friends and family the rest of your life, OK.  If you want to go beyond that you need to define a target audience.  You need to study the music they listen to and write something like that.”

The same thing happened when I started cranking out more fiction.  Who is the target audience?  What genre are you in?  OK, after writing The Fireborn, which is an urban fantasy, I read a lot of urban fantasy.  Hmm.  I like some, some I don’t and some is OK, but none of it is anything like The Fireborn.  The Fireborn is sort of like if Douglas Adams decided to write an Indiana Jones story in Dirk Gently’s universe and then had it rewritten by Stephen King.  I’m not saying it’s of the caliber of their stories, I’m saying that is where it would fit in the Universe of books.  So what is that called and who writes like that? Continue reading

Throwback Thursday Link Party @ Part-Time Monster’s Blog

Idea Tree

I decided to join the Throwback Thursday Link Party hosted by Part-Time Monster, Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy  and  The Qwiet Muse   again.  The idea is to put up a link to a post that is at least 30 days old.  I have taken it a little more literally.  The last two times I linked to posts that were exactly a year old.  This time I went back two years.

My post was called “How Did You Every Think of That?”  Have you ever imagined that you are a famous author and an interviewer asks that age old question about your current work?  I find that it is a great exercise, to actually think of were all of the elements came from.  You see, most stories, and blog posts for that matter, leap into my head unbidden, forming themselves whole and complete, kind of like Athena from the head of Zeus.  But how did they actually get there?  It isn’t foolproof, but sometimes thinking about how I came up with the idea for a story, poem, blog post or other piece of writing helps me create a new one.

Darn, I just told you the important take away from that two year old post!  Oh well, go back and read it anyway!  And go to Diane’s Link Party and read other people’s blog memories!  (Click here for Link-Up)

Gore Orphanage

mill-hollow

It was a cold night, too cold for any reasonable man to go outside. The caretaker knew because he had been out a little earlier, nipping off of the bottle hidden in the carriage house. The warm glow in his belly was beginning to fade and fog on his brain to lift, so he decided to make another run out for another nip. With a little heater full of hot coals in one hand and a lantern in the other he headed for the door. The kids would never know.

The caretaker stumbled and dropped the lamp. Oil splashed everywhere. Cursing, he put down the heater and grabbed another lantern. It would be cold, but he needed his nip.

Once outside he put a bar across the front door. His main responsibility as the night caretaker was to make sure none of the kids ran away. The Master had strange ideas about childcare that most people found pretty cruel.  The kids didn’t appreciate it either, so many of them often tried to escape at night. The bar would keep them in as he strolled out to the carriage house. As he turned he heard a noise from inside and smelled smoke, but his alcohol drenched brain didn’t register the senses. Continue reading

The Unwritten Backstory (Again)

First step on a long winter's walk - Photo by Trent P. McDonald

(Originally posted December 27, 2013 – One of my first posts it received only one “like”…)

The stereotypical author is often pictured hunched over a beat-up old typewriter creating his or her magic on the spot, pounding ideas furiously onto the keys.  Of course today the “typewriter” has a softly glowing flat screen.  Well, this picture isn’t me.  I do most of my writing during my frequent walks.  Time banging on the computer is needed mostly to transfer the already written story from my brain onto the page.  Sure, I do a lot editing on the PC, but for a major revision I once again put on a comfortable pair of shoes and head out the door.  Storyline, major plot points and even the nitty-gritty of word choice are worked out on foot.

During my strolls I tend to think beyond the finished product, particularly when it comes to short fiction.  I often create a much larger, more detailed story and then whittle it down.  A lot of what gets cut might be called “backstory”.  Although deleted, it’s always kept in mind, influencing the final work. Continue reading