Author Archive

Well, Here I am Again

Back to work, wishing for consistency but recognizing my stepdad’s old saying, “Wish in one hand and shit in the other. See which one gets full first.”

I’d rather start again and again instead of living with shit in my hands.

Edited Shift, Chapter 4, Scene 6.

How to Put the Bang in Your Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Story

The Not Homework Section of This Essay.

Go to the Science Fiction section in your local book store. (They still exist.) If you can’t find them, stalk the library shelves. (Though underutilized, libraries still exist.) Your assignment, Young Writer, is to read the first three pages of five books. As you read them make two stacks. In the first stack, place those books that pull you in and demand you read more. In the second, discard the books that just don’t do the job.

Point, you ask.

The first law of telling a Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Story is, “Start with a Bang!” A bang more than just a hook, which is found in the first sentence. Your hook is the fuse for the bang. The bang is the conflict and action in those first few pages that reveal the essential core conflict of the novel. The bang is a taste of the essence of the conflict. In those first pages, you do not want to reveal the entire enchilada and lay bare the mind, soul, and chili pepper malice of your villain. Just touch it.

Let’s go old school example.

Stephen King’s It is a perfect example of the bang. The 1093-page long epic begins with the ideal hook. (Don’t like King? It’s just the first three pages.)

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years—if it ever did end—began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”
Stephen King – It

Now that is a hook. The essential conflict in the novel between seven kids in Derry and their adult counterparts twenty-eight years later is displayed like a corpse at a wake. It begins with “The terror” setting the tone of the novel and provides a glimpse of the opening scenes situation in which a child is murdered, and his brother set on the long road of revenge.

I could almost stop here. You should be so lucky.

We see little George Denbrough playing in the rain with a boat made from newspaper and paraffin. King tells an active scene of a little boy in a yellow rain coat having a ball. The tone of horror comes through in words, and by the second page, when we read “George Denbrough ran towards his strange death” you now the kid who has plucked your heart strings is going die in a grisly, mysterious fashion.

In the first three pages, we don’t meet It (AKA Pennywise the Dancing Clown), but the sense of lurking terror, the central character, and the essential plot of a titanic conflict between seven children and trans-cosmic evil is glimpsed.

By the end of page 3, King moves into the novel’s second scene set between George and his brother Bill (Protagonist) the story of two brother’s making the newspaper boat that gets his brother murdered by the monster. The hook has been set, and the conflict glimpsed. King has delivered the bang.

Now, most of us are not Stephen King. You can take the lessons in the first three pages of the book and tell a story medieval fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera epic, gritty science fiction novel, or even a Romance (the conflict may be different, but the essential process remains the same).

Write that hook. Revel a glimpse of your conflict.

Now, go young writer, and write.

Once Again, NOVEL in a MONTH, With Feeling

Editing Shift. Setting the clock. Excited, no, not really. Terrified at my own love of failure. You betcha. More on the flip.


Shift – Rewrote Chapter 2 Scene 1. My editor made suggestions, and for some reasons, I just fought the very idea. But it is done. (1172 of 3000)

Editing gives me a head ache. I think I write clear, clean, and economically, and the editor says overwritten, or in the wrong place, or…

Shift – Rewrote Chapter 2 Scene 2. (1438 of 3000 words).

Shift – Added an appropriate mention of the five POV Characters to Chapter 1.

Shift – Rewrote Chapter 2 Scene 3 (533 of 3000 words)

Ironville – Read and performed minor edits on Chapter 1 (2300 word) as part of diving back into that story.

A number of writers I really admire have suggested that writing a book is a form of monogamy. Others, write one novel while editing a finished work. Some just split their time between writing and editing novels, with short stories thrown in the mix. I more of the later, I think. I’m not sure if it will hurt my attempt at writing, but it is how my mind works.

Successfully Updated to 4.8, and it Worked

No one reads this anyway, so I am having a public/private moment of happy dancing. In the past, when I have updated, my blog threw an ugly error back at me that required to dig through the guts of the blog and fix this line and that. This time, it worked. Thankyou Word Press. I could kiss you.

Success, Mood, and Tone

Success

Day 1 of the BOOK in a MONTH system a resounding success. I completed the goal with 3014 words written.

Mood and Tone

I just realized that none of my master’s classes actually discuss the difference between mood and tone.  It is something I do without thinking, but until I looked it up so I could describe it in scene cards, I did not understand the difference between the two.

Inetteacher.com gives a good basic description (see link below) but this is something that I need to master for myself.

Inetteacher.com

Tone is the author’s attitude toward the writing (his characters, the situation) and the readers. A work of writing can have more than one tone. An example of tone could be both serious and humorous. Tone is set by the setting, choice of vocabulary and other details.

Mood is the general atmosphere created by the author’s words. It is the feeling the reader gets from reading those words. It may be the same, or it may change from situation to situation.

Struggling Here, If You Get My Drift

The BOOK in a MONTH project.

Ho boy.

Yes, I failed. It is difficult to write 3000 words a day, especially with the kids at home. I could aim for less, and that might work, except that it would be in 30 days.

I also have problems with the way the whole is developed. I’ve discovered after a record breaking 3 attempts to write a novel with different systems, that the Snowflake system is about the best I’ve found.

So, I’m sitting here trying to figure out what I’m going to do, you know.

Shift.

Rewrite Shift.

It’s written, and I can edit the (Place F-Bomb Here) out of 3000 words a day.

So, as of today, I am starting again.

MY PROJECTS
Shift

Scapula

Ironville

Twilight’s Child

Sleeping Lies

On the mark.

Get set.

Go!

Negative is the Mind Killer

(Channeling my inner Herbert)

A Positive Meditation*

Believe in Me

See the Best in Every Situation

Focus on the solution, not the problem

Persist against adversity

*Adopted from BOOK in a MONTH by Victoria Lynn Schmidt Ph.D.

Today it begins.

Reading and Prep Work

Continuing the reading and prep work for the NOVEL in 30 DAYS. My most humbling experience is examining my Self-Esteem. I always knew I had problems in that area, but apparently, I lack any measurable self-esteem. That could almost make a man feel proud.

Picked up my son.

Don’t, I’m getting to the point.

Picked up my son who is out of school early and took him to one of my favorite coffee places, but damned if he doesn’t want to talk to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to my son, but he is a “Distraction” because, being here, he wants to talk, and I am having trouble concentrating.

Well, when he goes to be with the Rabbi, perhaps I can work.

A Novel in 30 Days?

BOOK in a MONTH by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D.

BOOK in a MONTH by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D.

Question for the day: can you write a novel in 30 days?

Let me back up. The real question on my mind remains can I write a novel in 30 days? I find lots of books about it. Of course, I’ve heard the stories. Ian Flemming wrote Dr. No in 3 days, or so I’ve heard. Barbra Cartland built her career on writing a book a month. Other writers out there do it, so it is possible.

But Can I?

To answer that questions, I’ve decided to put that question to the test. I bought a book titled, cleverly enough, “Book in a Month” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D. With education piled higher and deeper, she should know.

But again, I am sort of a fractured individual. I’ve written books, three months being my record, and can I really apply myself every day?

So, when do I begin, you ask? There are 60 pages to read. I look ahead to “Week 1” and see that the first day doesn’t look too arduous, well except for the, approximately, 2,666 words that I write a day, along with the other stuff that is involved in writing a novel. I’m not sure, but it looks like you are supposed to jump in and swim beginning on day 1. Today, I will read those pages and, if all things go well, I will start tomorrow.

Flash Fiction Prompt – Crash Scene

I found the image below striking. It catches a moment of tragedy.
My response was the Science Fiction Story “Crash Scene” submitted to Flash Fiction Online.

What is your response?