Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving.  I'm watching football.  Therefore, this will be a thanks-giving post.

Thanks to everyone who follows my blog, writes posts I enjoy, and/or stops by to read my posts from time to time.

Thanks to everyone who has personally helped me out with my writing.

Thanks to all the professional writers who have offered advice through podcasts, books, blogs, Twitter, etc.

And, most importantly, thanks to the Lord for giving me the talents required to do what I do.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Those Little Slices of Death

"Those Little Slices of Death" is an intriguing title for a flash fiction piece.  It left me with high expectations.  The story ended up disappointing me.

There are three "main" characters in this story.  Only two of the three are given much consideration.  While the characters' quality is somewhat redeemed at the end, they really weren't well done.  The protagonist is dull, annoying, and wishy-washy.  One character does nothing at all.  The third character is just plain strange.  That's three strikes from three pitches.

Recounting past events isn't much of a plot.  It could've been done exceptionally, I suppose, but it wasn't.  Because the character motivation made little sense, so did the plot.  There seemed to be an attempt at a  theme, which was a nice sentiment; however, it was poorly executed.

The setting was probably the coolest element of this story: near-future with drastically different society, having just enough familiar to balance out the strange.  Was it realistic?  Borderline, although it was never clearly stated that the setting is Earth, so a lot can be forgiven.

This story is dystopian sci-fi at its rockiest.  I recommend that you read it only to comprehend the writer's mistakes.

Monday, November 25, 2013

No Squire in the Kingdom (Vlog)

video

This is my first time video blogging (or vlogging).  Check it out.  It took a lot of time to figure out how to do it.

As promised, here is the link to the edition of the newspaper this story appeared in.  (I misspoke in the video.  It was actually the October edition.)  Scroll down to the "article" titled "Fiction."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest Post Editing Part 6 Explanation

Please follow along with Guest Post Editing Part 6.

I entirety of this part's original was awkward.  Most of my rewrite was still a little awkward.  I'll try to fix that.

The first four paragraphs in the original got a boost in word count and an extra paragraph.  It was pretty bare bones, so I bulked it up to help the pacing.  My wording could have been a lot better.  How about:

"Wiggles wafted through his living room.  The fire in his fireplace was almost dead, so he tossed a piece of rugged pine into its ashy waste.  He jumped when he saw the empty taffy bowl on the mantle.

'Mom, have you eaten any of our taffy lately?' Wiggles asked.

'Not in the last few weeks.'  His mother knit her eyebrows.  'Why do you ask?'

'Just wondering.  It needs refilling, for the first time that I can remember.'  He stayed long enough for his mother to nod before retreating to his room."

The remainder of the story is a long trail of thoughts in bad form.  I summed everything up in a manner more common in prose.  My final two paragraphs are far better than my first five, for sure.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Artist's Retrospective

Artist's Retrospective, written by David D. Levine, is very strange.  It disoriented me toward the beginning, before I had a good guess of the plot.  Odd enough, it never threw me out of the story.

There is only one character in this story, the artist.  He narrates the story from the 1st-person.  You never get a great sense of his character, but you don't really need to.  Only a few of the artist's qualities are important to the story.  Those were were done well enough.

The plot is difficult to grasp during the first couple hundred words.  It was clearly intentional.  By the time I finished reading I understood.  The concept was clever, although hardly revolutionary.

My typical decider for science-fiction is the setting.  This setting is simple.  As with character, setting wasn't overly important to the story.  Plot and atmosphere complemented the single controlling attribute of the setting.

Overall, Artist's Retrospective gets a 77/100.  There could've been more flesh in places, even for flash, but the story worked anyway.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Bloodshot Biologist (Two-Minute Version)

(Note: I originally posted this story in three parts.  This is the heavily edited two-minute version.)

      Our story begins in a small cottage in a rather emerald-hued section roughly mid-way into a forest.  This was the cottage of a man, a solitary, intelligent man.  The local people called him “Tim”.
     Tim was a studying man.  He spent his days on his porch, watching little woodland creatures.  He was fond of the animals.  He even gave them each a name.  One rabbit he called “Fluffy”.  A red fox he called “Auburn”.  He found that name particularly creative.
     Tim studied the animals for hours a day, for so long that his eyes were quite bloodshot.  This earned him his nickname, “The Bloodshot Biologist”.  Needless to say, he preferred that over Tim.
     One day, Tim had a thought.  He thought something like, and now for something completely different.  So, he went inside and brewed himself his first cup of coffee.  While doing so, Tim had another thought.  “I’m getting tired of the animals in my yard.  I think I will make myself a new one.”
     He decided to make a trek the next morning to the shop of the local blacksmithing wizard.  He planned to have the wizard make him a magical tool that would help him create new animals.
#
     Tim set off the next dawn.
     The forest floor crunched lightly beneath his boots.  Or oozed grotesquely when he stepped on…never mind.
     Suddenly, a brown-haired man stepped in front of Tim’s path.  His beard seemed to glow in the limited light.  In a gruff voice he declared, “I challenge thee.  En garde!”  The man exploded forward, curved hand above his head.
     Luckily, Tim was a master of forearm-warfare.  He crouched slightly and waited.  As soon as the man dropped his hand to strike, Tim shifted to the left.   He swiped at…
     Long story short, Tim dodged the man’s roundhouse kick and prevailed with a blow to his chin.
     Tim continued his stroll, triumph evident in his gait.
     At last he came upon a sturdy wooden door.  “Blacksmith” was spelled out in iron letters above the frame.   Pink twine fastened a piece of paper to the lion’s-head doorknocker.  It read: “Out on party business; do not wait for me.”
     And so Tim fell to his knees and wept.  The End.

The Tag You're It Blog Hop

Mr. Jeff O'Handley from The Doubting Writer tagged me yesterday for The Tag You're It Blog Hop.  I shall answer the following four questions and tag three other bloggers.

1.  What are you working on now?

I have two novels on hold right now.  The first is a part heroic/part epic fantasy currently titled The Lost Mountains.  It features a band of virtuous knights who battle creatures of pure vice in a secondary world.  The magic system involves deities, light, and prisms.  It'll be really cool once I get to writing it...The second is a YA fantasy.  I consider it a hybrid of Hayao Miyazaki's films and the Fire Emblem video games, only in book form.

I also have a YA fantasy novelette partially complete.  It has an herb-and-blood-based magic system.

2.  How [do they] differ from other works in [their genres]?

I try to keep my magic systems unique.  The cast of characters in The Lost Mountains starts off with a large cast, rather than building up to it.  The other novel has a rare approach, introducing a new character or characters in almost every chapter (in the same formula as the Fire Emblem video games).

3.  Why do you write?

I write for three main reasons. First, to practice the process for when I become an editor in the future.  Second, for the enjoyment of writing something well and entertaining others.  Third, with the hope of making money some day soon.

4.  How does your writing process work?

I'm a discovery writer.  When I get an idea I try to combine it with other ideas and go wild.  I have a tendency for extremely tight ideas, so unless I decide to write something longer, I default to flash fiction.  I edit as I go, which leaves me clean first drafts, but after long spans of time.

Who to tag?  Let's see...
Anne Schlueter of AM Station
Bonnee Crawford of  The Blogging of an Aspiring Writer
Brandon Ax of Writer's Storm


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Guest Story Editing Part 5 Explanation

Guest Story Editing Part 5 featured a single paragraph in both unedited and edited forms.  Check it out.

I tried a more poetic approach in the edit, although I went a little overboard.  "As the sun descended" should read "as the day wore on."  The third sentence would sound better as "Fluffy went back to Wiggles' house every day for a week, each time taking a single piece of taffy."  I like the mock-seriousness of my concluding sentence.

Can you think of a better version of this paragraph?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rapid Fire

This is the multi-novel, low-word version of literary criticism Tuesday.

Kill Alex CrossHorrible title, but decent book. I give it a 77/100.


The Sister of the SouthThe Sister of the South was a great end to a grand adventure spanning three middle-grade fantasy series. It was the second-best novel set in the Deltora world behind Return to Del.


Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: 3/5


To Kill a Mockingbird: 4/5


The Hobbit: 5/5

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Still a Bard Mid-Song

Gerz threw open the door of what appeared to be the only tavern in town.  The bard sitting in the corner stopped playing his lyre long enough to study him.  He grimaced before returning to his song.  
The mail shirt beneath Gerz’s tunic clattered as he sat down at the empty table nearest the musician.  He tossed a copper at the musician’s feet and nodded.
            A wench, her eyes plastered to the ground, broke away from the trio of women across the room.  “What to drink?” she asked Gerz’s boots.
“Dark brew,” he said, peering into her steely irises.  The words came out just above a grunt, level and hard.  He laid two silver coins down on the table.
The wench left without picking them up, hustling toward a tapped barrel near the other women.  She set a foaming tankard down on the table and swiped up the silver.
“Thank you,” Gerz said as the wench spun around to leave.
            She turned, looking him in the face this time.  “You’re welcome,” she said, barely loud enough for Gerz to hear.
            “Maiden,” said Gerz, his tone relaxed.  “Would you per chance know of anyone in this town in need of a swordsman?”
            “I’m afraid I do not, but I will ask the local patrons if you are in need of work.”
            “That would be much appreciated.  I’ll be staying at The Flapping Pelican down the lane for a few days.  If you hear of anything, ask after Gerz.” 
            “I will,” she replied, a smile beginning at the corner of her lips.
            Gerz felt the tension in the room lessen.  The bard, who must have paused in his playing, strummed a major chord.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Guest Story Editing Part 4 Explanation

Here is an explanation of an old post showing unedited and edited parts of a story my cousin wrote for her seventh grade English class.

The first paragraph was a pretty bad "tell."  It was simple enough to fix.

The second paragraph felt a little too abrupt, so I put the dialogue tag at the beginning and beefed it up.

I combined the third and fourth paragraphs.  They needed a style boost, so I went with a more character-driven approach.

The last two paragraphs were bare bones.  I could have left them, but decided to add some words to the dialogue for realism and change/omit the tags.

I'm not quite sure why I decided to add an extra paragraph at the end.  I suppose it gives the story a nicer sense of finality and builds upon Wiggles' character.

All in all, my edits made the story better, in my opinion.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG---Anyone Can Do It


This is my fourth post for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group.  From Mr. Cavanaugh's blog: "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!"

Why not be encouraging today?

You can do it!  In spite of what you may read in Stephen King's On Writing, anyone can become a great writer with the proper drive and adequate practice.  Sure, some people are predisposed to creativity, but to say that without being naturally creative you cannot come up with decent ideas is folly.

Let me give you some advice.  Try out multiple genres.  You may love writing romance, or fantasy, or westerns; that's great.  If you never other genres you may very well miss out of something you're really good at.  Perhaps you take a break from alternate history and decide to write a horror story.  The worst outcome is crummy manuscript.  At least you'll have written something.  If it turns out well, all the better!  You may have discovered something you excel at.

Anyone can write.  It's a hard job, yet extremely rewarding.  Don't give up on it if you're stuck in narrow straits.  Maybe you're writing the wrong type of story.  Maybe you just need more practice.  You'll never know unless you try.

So try.

I'll even give you a writing prompt, although I hardly expect anyone to actually take the time to write to it...

Incorporate rustling leaves into three flash stories (100-300 words?  Feel free to write more.): one fantasy or sci-fi story, one (clean) romance story or thriller, and one literary or mainstream story.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pavlov's Final Research

The first line of "Pavlov's Final Research" jarred me a little.  "The front doorbell jingled."  It jingled?  I guess it's accurate, but it felt strange to me and threw me out of the story for a moment.  The next sentence failed to pull me back in, attempting to utilize "reflexively" to build character quickly, yet falling flat.  After that the sailing was much smoother.

The characters in this story are real.  They feel fairly real in the context of the story as well.  One line of dialogue bothered me.  However, it was forgivable.  Character was very important to this story; I think it was done with adequate expertise.

This story has a strange plot.  It caters to the characters in a way that thrusts dialogue to the foreground.  The whole of it lasts just a few minutes.  There's really only one event.  For me, the plot wasn't large or emotional enough.

Setting played little part in this story.  The doorbell jingling is a setting detail, I suppose, so setting is probably the worst of the three main story attributes.  I can't really blame the writer a whole lot.

I've read worse.  I've read better.  This story is middling.  I'd still give it a read, my dear virtuous followers.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ebb and Flow

I write mostly flash fiction, so it makes sense that I should do some literary criticisms of flash.  Since I'm really behind on my Daily Science Fiction stories, I'm using their September 11th story, "Ebb and Flow" by LaShawn M. Wanak as my subject today.

There are two main characters in "Ebb and Flow," Megan and her husband, the first-person narrator.  Neither character is developed very well.  They do things, but the things they do hardly define them.  I wouldn't say they are terrible characters; I'm sure I've read worse.  The characters are simply flat, even for flash fiction.

The story doesn't really have a plot.  A little bit of time passes, but the only thing that happens is thought.

It's a sci-fi setting, done well enough.  Setting is the strongest element of the story, in my opinion.

I'm not going to give a percentage, because something tells me I really didn't understand the story as well as I should have.  The writer and editor are partly to blame, yet not 100%.  Read the story for yourself if you want an accurate score.