Thursday, May 28, 2009

Plot changes

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wrote a synopsis for Guardian - Shadows and Dust (my new title for The Guardians) before I began writing the actual novel. I'm now several days into the novel, things are going nicely, and I decided I want to try to plan this one out more than I did Jack O'Lantern.

Except that's not accurate, because Jack O'Lantern was completely unplanned from day one. But still, the point stands that I wanted to do more planning. In the case of S&D, I have a rough idea of how long I want the first draft to be: about 100,000 words. Since I've already created a structure for this book in my mind, I figured I'd write out an outline for the three main sections, along with word count goals for each section. The sections of the book as planned:

I. Novice
II. Squire
III. Guardian

So I started the outline, and of course, the early stuff is the most fleshed out, because some of it's already written, and what isn't will be soon. Before long, I realized that I needed to add another section to the book:

I. Novice
II. Squire
III. Wanderer
IV. Guardian

I finished my outline for the first two sections, and in doing so changed a good portion of the plot. My synopsis was suddenly outdated, and I realized again that my sections weren't well designed. And hence another revision:

I. Novice
II. Squire
III. Slave
IV. Servant
V. Guardian

That's where I stand now. The first two sections are fairly well outlined, the final three not at all. The plot details have changed dramatically from the synopsis, although the overall plot and theme have not. I still know where the story is going, and the basics of how I want it to get there, but the middle two sections are the least fleshed out. It's not a coincidence, since they're also the newest. But as I looked back at my now old synopsis, I noticed that the parts I changed the most - the middle sections - are what I planned the least. It was at this point in the synopsis where I just wrote down the overall arc of what would happen, rather than the details.

The ending hasn't changed one iota, however. One thing that's been consistent in my writing so far is that I don't start a story without knowing how it will end. Jack O'Lantern is the only exception, and that's because it was for NaNoWriMo, and I had no idea what it had in store for me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Oddities of Ideas

Ideas for stories pop into my head all the time. I keep a notebook handy at all times for them (or when I get the urge to start writing one of those stories, NOW). A file on my PC and thumb drive dutifully receives every seed of a story idea. Many of the ideas are just crap, and I know it, but they stay there, because for all I know, they might inspire something else when I peruse the list.

I get most of my ideas in two different ways:

1) Reading. I'll be reading a book, and it will trigger something inside my brain. Suddenly, I have an idea for a new story. It could be based on what I was reading in some way, or it could be completely unrelated.

2) Driving with the radio off. I do this about 50% of the time when driving for work. It's a great time to think and let stuff percolate in my brain.

The ideas are never forced. I never try to come up with something. If I did, I'm pretty sure it would suck. My subconscious has first dibs on all creative endeavors.

Now, what's odd about the ideas that are good is that there's no telling when I'll actually start writing. New ideas that are barely fleshed out may demand to be written well before ones that have developed characters and background. For an example, I direct you to Works In Progress on the side bar. Ignore Jack O'Lantern for now (more on it in another post at some point).

There are three novel ideas in there, and they're pretty vague. I'll go into just a tiny bit of detail here.

1) Untitled (Epic Fantasy) - World building. This is my oldest novel idea. It involves a father and his two sons. I expect it to end up being a trilogy.

2) Untitled (Science Fiction) - Percolating. The idea for this novel came after #1. It's about a colony ship.

3) The Guardians (Working title) - Writing. This is another epic fantasy. I expect it to have one sequel, although there's probably room for more. It follows a boy named Kale as he joins the Guardians, an ancient order that protects the world from Evil.

Now, The Guardians is easily my most recent idea for a novel. Wait, let me correct that. My most recent idea that has grown legs and is now walking around, waiting for me to do something with it. I've been developing the Untitled Epic Fantasy much longer. I've done a lot more work with the characters in it, and the basic synopsis has been complete for months. But it's not yet demanding to be written.

A few days ago, I felt close to The Guardians. I suddenly knew the story, knew where it was going and how to get it there, as if it was already written. So I grabbed my laptop and wrote a synopsis, along with some background and world building. Sure, there are one or two points in there that need to be flushed out. But the storyline just came together and knocked on a door inside my brain. "Hi there! I'm ready!" it said.

So I started writing it. The first few thousand words I wrote ended up being cut, as I discovered I started the story too early. But I think it's starting correctly now, and I'm excited to see how writing it goes. I just find it odd that this story has come so quickly to me, compared to other ideas that are waiting for their time to come.

Monday, May 18, 2009

5/18/09 Flash Fiction - "Shock"

Stephen sat cross-legged, his hands touching the floor to keep his balance. He couldn't see a thing through the blindfold, but he knew that a mob of other blindfolded people were crushed together all around him.

The party was the best yet--three kegs, hard liquor, weed. Hot women all over the place. And yet, he couldn't see any of them, because of the blindfold. But he didn't mind. It was all part of the game.

"Okay, Bernie, your turn." Zack's voice rang out through the crowded room. "Your partner is...Lady B."

Stephen couldn't wait; he was next in line. Zack, the referee, was the only one not blindfolded. He would roll the dice, and determine the player's partner. Then the two would make out, blindfolded. The idea was to get everybody laid. He knew the "ladies" were sluts and street hookers, but he didn't care.

It didn't take Bernie long. What seemed like only a few seconds of lips smacking and tongues exploring passed quickly, then Stephen heard them get up. He knew they were removing their blindfolds and leaving the room, the girl giggling as she stepped around the remaining players.

"Stones, your turn." Stones was Stephen's nickname, bestowed upon him by his fraternity brothers. They gave him the name after he lied to a cop's face after a particularly wild party. He spent the night in jail for it, but Zack claimed it took "stones of steel" to stand up to the police.

"Stones, your partner is...Lady Y."

Stephen kept still until a soft hand brushed his face. A whiff of vanilla perfume, a hand in his crotch, and lips on his. He thrust his tongue into the girl's mouth. Her hand stroked him as they kissed, and he knew this would be the easiest lay ever.

He stood up and ripped off the blindfold, eager to see his partner. His gaze went from her sculpted legs, up past curvy hips and chest to her face. She removed her blindfold and looked at him. They both froze.

No! It couldn't be!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Senility rejected

Senility suffered its second rejection. I've learned some more about editing since I submitted it, so I'm holding off on sending it in to the next magazine until I work on it some more. Hopefully, it'll come out a stronger manuscript.

Having a story get rejected sucks. I go into the submission process expecting rejection to keep myself sane. But it still hurts when other people don't see my stories the way I do. Still, though, if there's one thing I need to have in order to make it in publishing, it's a thick skin. Rejections come in droves. It only takes one editor to say yes.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

5/3/2009 Flash Fiction - "Guilty Pleasures"

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned." Mark kneeled in the confessional, smiling. A heavy silence hung in the air after he spoke, one Mark had no intention of breaking.

After several moments, the priest responded. "Go on, my son. You must confess your sins before your penance is determined."

"I'm sorry, Father. This is my first confession."

"How long have you been a believer, my son?"

"Oh, I'd say about twenty years."

Another silence, then the priest spoke again, his voice hardened with disappointment. "Then I imagine you will need a good deal of time to finish confessing."

"Yes, Father, I think I will."

"Begin, my son."

Mark paused a moment, letting his thoughts wander. What was the best way to do this?

"Well, first off, I coveted Bill's--that's my neighbor--wife. I've been doing it for the past fifteen years."

"The failings of our mind often betray us, my son. Go on."

"Then two days ago, the coveting ended. By me having sex with Janice. That's Bill's wife."

The priest started to speak, but Mark cut him off. "I also did Bill's two daughters."

"The failures of the flesh--"

"Oh, and I forgot to say, this wasn't consensual."

"You mean you raped three women?"

"Yes, Father. And then...then I killed them."

A loud thunk echoed through the confessional. Mark guessed the priest had fallen out of his chair. He tried to control himself, but he couldn't--a giggle escaped. He quickly clamped a hand over his mouth and waited for the priest to respond.

It took a minute or so, but the priest said, "My son, you are saying you raped your neighbor's wife and two daughters, then killed them all?"

"Yes, Father. I also killed Bill. With a gun. Their dog too."

The priest's sigh was louder than the thunk, and probably audible from the church's entrance. "Go on, my son."

"Well, then I went home, and I had sex with my wife before I killed her, too." Mark tried but couldn't quite keep the merriness out of his voice.

"My son, confession is sacred, and if you are not truly repentant, it is meaningless."

"I'm sorry, Father. I guess I just have my guilty pleasures."

"You mean that you've raped and killed before?"

"No, Father." Mark could barely speak through the laughter. "I just enjoy shocking the hell out of you priests."

Friday, May 1, 2009

5/1/2009 Flash Fiction - "Chain Reaction"


The following is a piece of flash fiction that contains swearing and is extremely disturbing, even to the author. I don't know where such a vile character came from, and I don't really want to know. Please do not read if you are easily offended.


I killed two girls last night. I had no real reason for it; it was just something to do. I've killed before--ants, roaches, squirrels, birds, even some cats and dogs--but never a human. Until last night.

It was boring. In the end, people die just like animals, just like an insect. Nothing special about the supposedly higher order of intelligence inhabiting this planet. Death is the great equalizer.

I can imagine your disgust with me. Your moral judgments. Your "civilized" manner telling you that murder is wrong. And what do I say to that? Nothing. Why should I defend myself? Did you ever defend me? Did anybody? No.

Why did I do it?

Why not?

I had the ability, and opportunity presented itself. So I answered the knock on the door, and slit their throats. Then I watched their eyes, their horrified eyes, as their blood spurted, as their life force drained from the fragile shells they inhabited.

It was no big deal.

I don't even know their names. Names have never made much of an impression on me. I can't remember my own. What does it matter? It's just an artificial construct dumped on me by the bitch and bastard who created me with lustful rutting.

When it comes right down to it, what's the difference between fucking and killing? They're really two sides of the same coin. Both are base urges that compel us to act. One creates life; one takes it. It's the natural order of the world. I mean, if you really think about it, I'm just a balancing force. With all the fucking going on in the world, somebody needs to step up and kill. Might as well be me.

That must be what I am. Death incarnate; the Grim Reaper. When the bitch and bastard took turns violating me, then sold me off to the highest bidder...they had no clue that they were simply doing nature's will, that they were creating what Earth needed to come back into balance.

For I have killed, and I will kill again. And again. And again. With all the fucking going on, I'm going to be one busy little beaver.

Time for a little sleep. Then I'll get to work.

-Excerpt from the journal of Melanie Simpson.

Case #155563
Evidence ID #621

8/29/2011 - Blood spattered on page confirmed to belong to deceased.
9/2/2011 - Confirmed deaths of girls mentioned to be Poppy Barrington, age 6, and Georgia Barrington, age 8.
9/13/2011 - Charles Barrington arrested for murder of deceased.
5/23/2013 - Charles Barrington acquitted of all charges in trial. Case closed.

Lack of updates

I haven't been able to do much in the way of writing recently, including updating this blog, because I managed to cut two fingers last week, in separate household accidents. One while chopping some potatoes, the other while tying up some cables from my computer. Typing with injured fingertips is not exactly easy. But they're mostly healed now, or, at least, healed enough to type. So hopefully, they'll be some updates soon.