Tag Archives: Fiction

The Mother of all Writing Crises: Disruptive Fiction

Introduction

Recently, I rode on Amtrak recreating Edgar Allan Poe’s last trip northward. (As covered in Saving Eddie.) Amtrak has a Writer’s Residency. However, I like writing when the mood strikes without conditions.

As discussed earlier, I enjoy using a steno pad when writing in the air or traveling by rail, This time was no exception. What came forth was an over a four thousand word work called tentatively Waverly. The title is a nod to Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly novels which includes Ivanhoe.

Two Types of Disruptive Fiction

This new story became a case of disruptive fiction of which there are two kinds.

The first type is a work that is so unique that it immediately catches your attention. Q by the Wu Ming Writers’ Collective is one possible example.

But the more interesting area is fiction that disrupts your writing schedule.

Questions Concerning Disruptive Fiction

The following are some of the questions that Waverly brought to the surface and their resolution to date:

  1. What do I do with it? It is too short to be part of a book. I don’t have a new short story collection planned to place it. It could easily grow into a series of related stories. (Which would be a first for me.) So right now it is my experiments folder. There is a strong possibility that it is never released.
  2. Do I want to publish this now? There is too much that I am already working on such as finishing up Missed Landing and second edition updates to Simply Business/IT and Transitions 1.  (Each with one new story.) So the earliest that this would be published is 2016.
  3. How do I classify it? Is it a simple story, a political fable, a fictionalized guidebook for the ruling elite, science fiction, or something else? Again, I am not sure yet. With rewrites, it could be expanded and go into many different directions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, even if you think things are settled with your writing schedule, ideas may unexpectedly spring forth that may need exploring. Sometimes I put things on the side and other times I switch and make this a primary focus. The latter path includes Saving Eddie, Killing Thoreau, Ghosts vs. Robots, and now Missed Landing.

But that is my story and I am sticking to it. Which will YOU choose when a creative idea wants to disrupt your writing life?

5 Ways your Children Can Help you Become a Better Writer.

Introduction
Though the many eons of the written word, there are many examples of authors writing stories for children they knew. This often included their own children and relatives. The world is indebted with some great literature as a result.

But there is a question that ends up as part of my “mental traffic” from time to time. That is does being a parent help make you a better writer? If so, is this is still true if you do not write children’s stories?

Based on my experience, I would say an emphatic YES!

Five Ways How Children Positively Impact your Writing.

Some of the reasons for saying this include the following.

1.You have a ready test audience. Reading stories out loud is a tremendous laboratory. Children’s reactions will let you know if a story is on target on not. Obviously, don’t inflict on them the first drafts , very adult stories, and other faux pas or they may never forgive you.

2. They want to hear new and some old stories. This is a great opportunity to push the creative juices to the fullest. It may initiate a chain of brainstorms that may result in something completely different.

3. You have to explain things simply and clearly. This means use of examples, humor, strong mental images, and more. Explaining things in many different ways helped tremendously in thinking how to describe a scene to my reader.

4. They can help characters come alive. Children are great in exploring situations in stories. Asking questions such as What if this character did … They also have a strong sense whether words spoken are true to a character or not.

5. You can determine quickly the needed images to create for a work. The scenes that get the greatest reaction likely need an illustration to go with the text.

All of the above helped in putting down in writing an always changing special bedtime story/meditation called “The Floating Bed” that is part of In Small Doses 2. It was a culmination of multiple night time renditions each a little longer and a little more detailed.

I would be interested I hearing how your “little reviewer(s)” helped your writing.

Writing Where You Can

To many, the lone writer performing his craft on the road is a romantic image. One can visualize them being the sole inhabitant in a smoke-filled room during the early morning hours. There the would-be author is typing furiously and asking frequently for more coffee or alcohol. When the sun finally rises, they nod in appreciation at the large pile of paper produced.

But the reality in the digital age and being on a budget is far different. Space in the coach area on the plane is limited and very tight. The result may be unwanted disruptions or harsh commentary from your neighbors. And there are the challenges of keeping your presence of mind during a period of high turbulence. Trains are about the same. The good news is that you can plug in your computer as the wires dangle across your row occupant’s legs. The trains sway back and forth also making it an obstacle to type reasonably as well as keeping your lunch down. Having a table in first class or the café car is the closest one will get to an ideal environment to compose.

The experience would be pretty much the same whether a laptop or tablet. Wireless connections used to access references may be unreliable or slow.

I wrote an unpublished technical book for two years on the road in every spare moment I had between flights/trains. This included the always crowded airport charging stations, Amtrak first class lounges, and sitting on the carpet next to the rare outlet which loosely held a plug.

It was all an adventure that resulted in dead computers, fragmented writing at times, and a constant sense of fighting the clock.

With fiction writing, I am having more success going old school. A stenographer’s notebook and a pen take up little space regardless of the location. One can started right away at any altitude. There is no need to wait for a computer to boot up. There is no worry about disk failures. There is a stronger sense of accomplishment as the words fly and the pages get filled. Just bring a supply of fresh pens and make sure the notebook doesn’t get harmed or stolen. And the process of digitizing at a later date typically results in a stronger work.

Some of the recent works done this way include “Illuminations of a Lighthouse Keeper” found in In Small Doses 2, part of the “Landing in Nippon” chapter in Olivia Plymouth #4 (Encounter at Tokaido Road) and a yet to be published story.

In the end, we all have to choose a writing approach that works for each of us wherever we are. But sometimes the locality forces the choice on it. In any case, enjoy the process and make friends with your neighbor. After all, they could be a writer too.

From the Grave: Please Don’t Publish Until I’m Gone 100 Years.

Mark’s Twain Autobiography was published after a wait of 100 years. By doing this, he could freely speak his mind and strike vengeance as he saw fit “from the grave.”

A fiction writer may also create but not consciously publish various works during their lifetime for the following reasons:

  • A fear of criticism on release.
  • The work is incomplete or not satisfactory.
  • The work covers a controversial subject.
  • A promise to keep family members happy.
  • The work is an indictment of a real situation and real names are mentioned or are very thinly veiled.

So a growing “post-bucket” collection may result. But this is accompanied by a set of risks. If this is a digital set, then there is the ongoing concern over a malicious hacker retrieving and publishing it. Or if it is a physical work, there is a need to hide it in a secure or an unobvious place. However, every time that you use the surreptitious repository, there is a good possibility of your “literary stash” being detected.

To relieve the tension, some authors may release a few of these works under pseudonyms. But there is a high risk of doing this in the information age because eventually the truth will come out.

And as a last resort, perhaps never write these stories down. Instead, keep it part of your “mental inventory.” And when you emit your breath, the secret will die quietly with you.

How will you choose to handle this need? The choices are yours alone and need to be made carefully. Good luck with this effort!

Eight Reasons Why Saving Eddie is Different

I recently completed Saving Eddie, a fictionalized paranormal retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s life. This is different from any of my other books for the following reasons:

  1. It crosses genres. The book is a biographical mystery with romantic and paranormal elements. It attempts to seamlessly merge these elements together.
  2. It uses unique plot devices. It is based on Arthur Rimbaud’s idea of a “season” covering the key periods in Poe’s life. The book is mostly told through two imaginary journals including one of Edgar’s mostly unknown real-life brother Henry. Henry also is deciding throughout the book when would be best to save his brother’s life.
  3. It provides a different perspective on Poe’s life. There are many different books on this great author. But few are written from the perspective on why he could so clearly describe the ideals of beauty and the depths of human madness. It provides a theory on the disastrous consequences of his being constantly in debt. Some of his lesser known works are also highlighted.
  4. It is well-researched. Diving into primary resources as well as visiting many of the places where he resided made this the most researched book that I have done to date.
  5. It uses lengthy chapters. Typically I write short chapters. However, in this case, a chapter was written for each “season” of Edgar’s life. Using the “one long take” approach allows the reader to better understand the ups and downs of that period.
  6. Use of unreliable narrators. The two journal writers in the story are caught up with their own emotional biases and may make misleading judgments. Along the way, you watch them both grow.
  7. A preview copy and cover was released early. It had the most downloads in the shortest period of time of all my book samples.
  8. It is not a retread. Another author could have made this a rehash of Killing Thoreau with time travel. But I decided to go into unfamiliar and more challenging territory instead.

This was a highly satisfactory experience that I hope you have as much fun reading as I did creating,