Tag Archives: Stephen King

How Did I Get Here?

This week my story started out with a boy running from some bullies. Then I turned it into a flashback and by the time I had finished it was essentially an origin story for a superhero like Batman. He found a secret hideout underneath an old, empty warehouse that was full of technology that was beyond what the rest of the world had available. He’s not quite sure if it is alien in origin or not, but he thinks that he can use it to make himself into a hero.

The story isn’t bad, but the first few paragraphs really don’t fit where the rest of the story ended up. They will probably all have to be rewritten or maybe cut altogether for the second draft. It’s kind of an intriguing premise though, and I might just have to explore it again some other day. In the meantime, though, I’m on to story number 48.

It’s hard to believe that we’re this close to the end of the year. It has been a long run, and I think writing all of these short stories has been good for me. They have certainly given me a chance to come up with some interesting ideas for the future. If you have followed my blog, you also know that they have also given me some reason to worry about my sanity. But then, most writers probably think that at one point or another in their careers. How often do you think Stephen King has written something and thought to himself, “What is wrong with me?”

Anyway, since I have spent most of this weekend watching Doctor Who in honor of the 50th anniversary special, I started this week’s story with my main character using some British idioms and references. I probably won’t be able to pull it off for the whole story, but it’s one of those writing exercises that I thought might be interesting. I’ll let you know next week how it went.

Speaking of the Doctor, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to come up with that kind of immortal character? There aren’t many fictional creations that have the worldwide attraction and recognition of Doctor Who. It’s also interesting that the ones that I can think of are British creations, like James Bond and Harry Potter.

Time for a challenge, kiddies! Name some other fictional characters in a long-running series that are widely recognized across the globe. Go ahead, I dare you!

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Exploring

That was the working title of my last Dirty Little Freaks story. It started out nice and sweet, with a little boy getting ready to spend the first day of summer vacation exploring the woods near his house. His mother even helps him get his supplies in order so he can stay out all day if he wants to.

Then, when he gets into the trees, something changes. His walk through the forest turns into following a mysterious path. A faint trail that you walk by instinct more than sight. A trail that takes him deeper into the woods than he thought possible. And when he stops to rest, he discovers a clearing. A perfect circle allowing the sun to shine some light into the darkness of the forest.

Of course, you know it has to be a fairy circle. And when the leprechauns show up one of them offers him a raspberry, which he eats, and afterward shares his bag of chips with them. And then he tries to leave. At which point the door slams shut and he is told that once you eat fairy food you can never leave. He shrinks down to their size and becomes one of them.

This whole story was an exploration. I just sat down and started writing, just to see where it went. I didn’t know what was going to happen in the woods until it did. I also had a thought Saturday morning that maybe the leprechauns should eat him. A friend of mine suggested that he eat them instead, which was an interesting twist, but instead I went for a simple entrapment. I was very tempted to have some death creep in there, but the first part of the story didn’t really support it, so I just wrapped it up as best I could and I’ll see if something better comes out of edits.

Sometimes that’s the best thing to do. Give your characters their head and see where they take you. Mine like to go where the lights are all burnt out or broken, and a serial killer is lurking behind that tree over there. Not that one, the one right next to you. Oops. Too late.

I also watched Cabin in the Woods on Saturday night. That was interesting. I followed it up with the first episode of Under the Dome, the mini-series based on the book by Stephen King. So far, so good.

As far as my Magic Spreadsheet goes, I have hit level two, and my chain is still strong. The words are piling up, now at 300 words a day. I’m going to ride this train as long as I can. I wonder if I can make it to the end of the line….

That’s it for today. See you again next week with an update on Story #27.

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Socializing for an Anti-Social Profession

Let’s face it, writers spend a lot of their time alone, lost in the worlds inside their heads. Some of them have even been known to bite when provoked. Getting those words on the page is the only way to get the voices to stop.

But stories are about people, and it’s kind of hard to understand how people work without spending any time with them. So every writer needs to get away from the manuscript once in a while and get out there where the stories are. If they’re lucky they can also find other people who share their interests and might be able to help refine their work into something they can print.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

– Stephen King

Today I’m going to tell you about two of the things in my life that help me get my writing done. Writer’s groups and conventions.

I have been with a writing group for a few years now. We meet on a weekly basis and discuss our work. In the past, we would read our pieces out loud and get critiques from the others. That worked, but there were times when nobody had anything to read, or when only one person had anything prepared, so there was sometimes a bit of guilt or tension in the group.

We are shaking things up a bit now. We’re still going to meet weekly, but we’re only going to offer critiques once a month. The other weeks we will use as a scheduled writing time, with the opportunity to discuss any story problems we are stuck on with the rest of the group. We will also take some time each month to discuss a book that we have read.

I’m not sure about the book discussion, as I already have a discussion group that I go to at my local library once a month. I have enough trouble getting through the books on my own to-read shelf without adding yet another one from someone else’s list. But I’ll give it a try anyway, because at least the books that my writing group discuss will be more closely aligned with the ones I normally read for pleasure. The library book group mostly discusses popular fiction and non-fiction, which I would probably never read on my own.

As for conventions, it is nice to be able to get out and meet new people every once in a while. Conventions give me a chance to get out there and participate in discussions about interesting topics led by interesting people. I also get the chance to meet famous people, like Larry Niven, who has been a favorite author of mine for decades.

This year my convention plans include Odyssey Con, April 12-14, and WisCon, May 24-27, both held in my home town of Madison, Wisconsin. I almost decided to skip Odyssey Con this year, but when they announced that the Guests of Honor included Alex Bledsoe and Kevin Hearne, I just had to go. Alex is also local to the Madison area, and I have met him several times and consider him to be a friend. He is a great guy and his writing is superb. Kevin is the author of the Iron Druid series, which I started reading a couple of years ago and have loved every bit of it, so I am looking forward to meeting this outstanding author.

While at the conventions, I will have a chance to sit in on discussion panels with these two greats, as well as many other writers and fans, and pick their brains about writing, news of the world, and our future on this planet (and possibly others). And there will be lots of other, like-minded people around as well, each with their own opinions and views to share.

I highly recommend that, whatever your situation, you should try to connect with other writers. Either with a writer’s group or a convention. Preferably both. And if you can afford to travel, come and join me in Madison at one of my conventions and introduce yourself. We’ll chat.

I’ve got to go lock myself in a room now and get some writing done. I’m going to write another Alchemist story this week, and I am hoping that I will be able to finish it ahead of schedule again. As usual, I will post another update on Wednesday.

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Why Does This Keep Happening?

So, what do we want to talk about today? Politics or writing? How about the fact that no matter how hard I try to write a nice, PG-rated story, somehow everything turns into a creepy horror-fest.

Is there something wrong with my brain? Have I got some strange kind of disorder that wants to color everything with Crayons from the Dark Side? Or have I just been watching too many zombie movies? (Is there such a thing as too much zombies?)

I do try to keep things from circling down the abattoir to Hell, but it isn’t easy. Take my last story, for example.

It started as a chase, with two people running from a group of soldiers. They came to a field, one where the hero apparently had some prior experience. He led the soldiers into the field, despite the fact that he knew he was in almost as much danger as they were. But he got lucky. He wasn’t eaten alive by the intelligent, land-based piranha people who lived there. Instead, their leader talked to him and somehow it turned into an impromptu wedding to the girl who was with him.

I’m still not quite sure how I turned a horror story into a romance, and it may not really work the way it is, but I’m counting that as a win for the side of goodness and light.

I don’t know what it’s going to take for me to write something that doesn’t require parental supervision to read. Maybe I need to be more careful about plotting out my story. Maybe I need to start watching and reading more romances. Or maybe I need to start hanging around with kids (come here little girl, I’ve got candy!).

Maybe not.

Maybe all I need to do is embrace my dark side and see if I can become the next Stephen King. Because if there’s one thing I have learned in my forty-plus years on this planet, it’s that life is hard and darkness is everywhere.

Depressing thoughts for a Sunday morning. I’ll see if I can do better on Wednesday. Wish me luck on my story for this week! (I wonder what it will be…)

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