Archive for March, 2009

M is for Missing the Point

Posted in Alphabet, Writing on March 30, 2009 by oneoveralpha

I’m in three different writing groups. They have been very beneficial, either motivating me to write so I have something to share, or by catching my mistakes and lapses. “Why did he do X?” “Oh, didn’t I mention he was an android? Oops.” But not every writing group comment has been useful. Sometimes, people miss the point. I’ll give two examples.

One time a group was going over a short scifi story of mine. For one, older woman, it was apparently the first scifi story she had ever read. (Sad proof that not everyone is perfect. :P) Anyway, she had a lot of problems with it. At one point, a character talks about his blaster. “What’s a blaster?” “A kind of gun.” “Couldn’t you just say ‘gun?'” She didn’t just admit she was unaccustomed to scifi lingo and move on. Instead, she acted as if I was purposely filling the story with weird stuff just to confuse people. Over the years I’ve read a lot of stuff that – either in tone, genre, or style – I didn’t get. And I understand, I’m not the audience. I give basic comments, but I don’t blame the author for not reeling me into a, say, a gay romance aboard a French naval vessel of the 1700’s. That’s not my kind of story.

Another time, a group was going over a different story of mine. This story had two distinct parts. The first part mostly set the stage, giving some background information on the setting and the main character. The second part had the main point of the story, but you needed that background to understand it. Also, there was a sub-point to the story in how the two parts interacted. This one guy didn’t get that. His comments for just about every paragraph in the first part was, “This does not advance the story.” He seemed to feel I should just have the second part as the story, overlooking that nobody would know what the hell I was talking about. Him making the first comment didn’t bother me, what bugged me was he wouldn’t let it go. He made his comment – I didn’t think it would work but I think about it later – and instead of moving on to something else, he kept repeating it, seeming as though he was trying to bash me into agreeing with him. Towards the end I just sat there with clenched teeth, dismissing his comments out of hand, and wanting to yell, “You’re missing the point!”

I guess it just goes to show you can’t please everyone. One person thought I explained too much, another too little.


L is for Linkage

Posted in Alphabet, Writing on March 27, 2009 by oneoveralpha

About ten years ago, I started writing “Empty Calories for the Soul,” a story about a down on his luck pizza delivery guy named Felix. One day while grocery shopping, Felix comes across a box marked “The Meaning of Life,” and he learns a lesson. (Do you want me to give the whole story away? :P) Almost a year ago, after numerous rejections and revisions, “Empty Calories for the Soul” was finally published.

Five or six years ago I started a different story, “Duty.” The blurb I came up for this was, “Who cleans up the mess when the time machine malfunctions?” After numerous rejections and revisions, “Duty” is still without a home.

Now, the reason I told you about these two very different stories, is that they are linked. A few years ago when revising “Duty,” I added a chapter where one of the main characters orders a pizza. I thought it would be really funny if Felix delivered it. At first I figured it would just be an Easter Egg for fans of my writing. But the more I thought about it, the more comforting it became. I’ve written several stories following the same characters (See Tom and Jeremy) but this is different. It feels like an element of consistency through my writing. Not only are “Empty Calories for the Soul” and “Duty” different genres and styles, they also represent two different stages of my writing. I see “Empty Calories for the Soul” as an example of my first phase of writing, whereas “Duty” – especially since I’m still working on it – is an example of my current phase. I don’t know how else to say it, but the linkage is soothing.

After I added Felix to “Duty,” I figured that every pizza delivery guy I write about has to be him. Unfortunately, few of my plots need a pizza delivery guy. However, last year Felix did make a cameo in “Explore the Future.”

So, what does the future hold for Felix? Well, as I was thinking about this post, I couldn’t help but wonder what Felix is up to these days. Did he finish college? Did he ever ask Robyn out? Is he still delivering pizzas? One of these days, I’ll have to sit down and continue his tale. It’s funny that a character I first wrote ten years ago is still with me. I guess some links aren’t meant to be broken.


Posted in Writing on March 22, 2009 by oneoveralpha

For several years I’ve been working on a novel, None of Them Knew the Color of the Sky. It consists of four parts, each told from the point of view of a different character. Despite writing a chapter or two a month, for several months I’ve been a perpetual six to seven chapters away from finishing Part II. There was a cliffhanger I was working towards, but I could only inch towards it. Well, about a week ago I sat down and figured out what I still needed to get to that cliffhanger, and was relieved to find I was only six chapters. So for the last few days I’ve been working on the first of those six chapters, but as I was finishing it up something felt wrong. I was writing an ending. I panicked trying to think of a way to jump start things again for those other five chapters before I could have the cliffhanger. But this point in the story is a natural ending. It just works for me to end Part II at that point. I’m halfway done with my novel. Holy shit! 😀

Even better, I figured that after I finished Part II, I would need to take some time off to work out Part III. I know how Part III ends, but I didn’t really know how to start it. But now I can meld those five chapters and the cliffhanger into the beginning of Part III, and it works!

I’m almost bouncing in my chair. I’M HALFWAY DONE WITH MY NOVEL!

Silver Lining

Posted in Writing on March 18, 2009 by oneoveralpha

I received a rejection letter today for one of my stories. Not great news, but on the bottom of the form letter was a note in blue ink! The note was concerning a formatting issue – which is good for future reference – but I just kept thinking, “SOMEONE READ PAST THE FIRST PAGE!”

K is for Killing Trees

Posted in Alphabet, Writing on March 15, 2009 by oneoveralpha

A little story.

Let’s say I get an idea for a flash fiction story. I write it in my writing notebook at a coffee shop and then I type it up. And there is a magazine I want to submit it to but they only take mailed submissions. So I print out four copies of the story. One copy is my “Clean Copy” which goes in a folder in my filing cabinet. The second is my “Work Copy” which is what I will make any revisions on. It goes into a binder. The third is the one I mail off, and the last one goes into my “Submissions Log Binder.”

Say a month later I learn that it hasn’t been accepted. But, I’ve found another magazine that takes emailed submissions, so I email it off and print out the first page of the story, for my Submissions Log.

A month or so later I learn that magazine hasn’t accepted it. Now by this time I may have thought of some new ideas for the story, or possible even have gotten some feedback, so I take my work copy to a coffee shop and work on it. I then go home and type up the changes, then put that work copy in the filing cabinet. If there is another magazine that takes emailed submissions, I’ll print out three copies – Clean, Work, Submissions Log.

Then a month or so later I learn that magazine has accepted my story. When they publish it online, I print out the page for my “Publication Binder.”

Now all of this isn’t bad when the stories are only a page or two long, but it does get somewhat tedious. And for the fifty page stories, it can be a bitch. I’m sure there is a better way of doing this, but this is the system that I’ve developed over the years, and I’m almost afraid to break it. Not out of superstition, but I’d hate to have to go back through everything reformatting it to the new way of doing things. Yes, I kill trees, but they say admitting it is the first step.

This has been a good day

Posted in Odds, Writing on March 8, 2009 by oneoveralpha

Not only did I see Watchmen – the movie I’ve been waiting for the most – I had my story “What’s in a Name?” published on Flashshot, and I had my story “An RI World” accepted by Writing Shift, to appear in July. Yeah!

What’s in a Name?

Posted in Stories, Writing on March 6, 2009 by oneoveralpha

My flash fiction story “What’s in a Name?” will be published in tomorrow’s issue of Flashshot, your daily dose of flash fiction.

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