Tag Archives: short story

What I’ve Done This Week #9…

I delved a little deeper this week into the dialogue of Talking in the Fourth. I’m looking forward to grabbing some time and getting through it because I already have a good springboard for the plot and how it ends, and about half of my projected word count committed. It’s (hopefully) a clever twist on a familiar set-up.

I’m also going to make a concerted effort to fire off a bunch of stories in the next few days. I’ve sat on a lot of good pieces for a long time, and I miss those days when I’d have upwards of fifty active submissions… where I genuinely did look forward to the response, even though nine times out of ten it was a rejection.

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What I’ve Done This Week #8…

Well, I’ve named the piece I was discussing last week. It’s going to be called, Scream, Pause, Play. At least, that’s the working title. These things have been known to change as the story grows. On paper (or, in my head, at least) it’s a very dark story with an interesting narrative form. It will be quite the undertaking, but I’m certainly willing to giving it a go.

I’ve also picked up a story I started a long time ago called, Talking in the Fourth. It’s a first person tale set entirely on a therapist’s couch that should probably be no longer than a couple of thousand words, so it shouldn’t outstay its welcome. I found a good ending for it a few days ago, so now it’s just a matter of writing my way towards it.

Of course, this is along with that damn monster story on the train that hasn’t quite pulled into the station yet.

But I’ll get there.

What I’ve Done This Week #7…

When my marriage broke down and I moved out in 2013 I left my computer, and with that decision, lost a lot of my words.

I didn’t leave any completed stories behind, but there were thousands of words of notes and excerpts from things I was working on, along with interesting snippets that I had written down along the way that I didn’t have a place for at the time of writing. None of it was gold, I’m sure, but I’ve managed to work a lot of those rough notes into decent stories over the years, so it’s a loss that still hurts today.

Since then I have been a lot more careful about anything I write. It’s saved in multiple places – emailed to myself, or written onto a disc.

Recently I came across a couple of paragraphs I had saved onto my phone. It was about memories – the beginning of a thought or perhaps a story idea, although (ironically) I don’t really remember.

I read over it, and after adding quite a bit to it with no real direction at all, an idea began to form. Before long, I had characters, a viewpoint, and – from the most innocuous of beginnings – a pretty good grasp of where I wanted to go with it.

And that’s a good feeling.

What I’ve Done This Week #2…

In terms of pushing a new story – that monster one on the train – I’ve probably written less this week than last, but what I have done over the past few days is start to throw my stories out to publishers again.

I tend to use Duotrope for my publication needs. There are others out there which I check out occasionally, but Duotrope covers the bases and is presented clearly and cleanly. It’s a fairly stacked database, with thousands of publications to choose from. It’s by no means exhaustive, but there is a lot of content to wade through.

And yes, it does cost $5 a month to access, but if you’re going to be sending stuff out there with any regularity it’s a bit of a no-brainer. Speculate to accumulate, as they say.

With a little luck something positive will result from my efforts, because it has been far too long since I’ve had an acceptance. Sure, I’ve not played the game nearly as much lately, but still…

Fingers crossed.

What I’ve Done This Week #1…

Well, not very much as it happens – certainly not as much as the first week of last year, when I was burning both ends of that candle and kicking out my final draft of Slipwater, but definitely more than I wrote in the final week of last year. I’m going to take that as a positive and move forward from there.

The short story I’m writing at the moment has been on the books for several years, and has gone through a number of name changes along the way, but I have settled for The 07.43 to Blackford Station, which is of course, subject to change.

It’s an old-fashioned monster story – something I’ve wanted to write for a long time – and is centred on five teenage friends as they take the morning train to school. I have over 3000 words down, and I’m probably looking at twice that upon completion. I know the beats I want to hit, so hopefully I can finally put my mind to it and put this story to bed once and for all. .. by the end of February.

Random Bits of Paper…

ideas41200x630bbI’ve kept many notes I’ve written over the years – from stories I’ve since had published, all the way down to stories that I never even got around to writing. Not yet, at least. Frighteningly, some of these notes and ideas go back to the early nineties. It’s so long ago, people actually liked OJ Simpson.

I went through a whole pile of stuff today, all of which I wrote before I had seen any of my words in print. Some notes and ideas are documented on A4 sheets of paper, but most are written on torn promotional leaflets, or the backs of supermarket receipts, such was the urgency of my thoughts two decades ago!

It’s interesting to look back at these things, and it’s certainly an eye-opener to see just how prolific my thoughts were in those days, but while it’s reassuring to see that I took any and every opportunity to write down a thought I considered potentially useful – no matter how trivial – it’s also sadly frustrating that there have been many moments since those days when I have not been nearly as eager to… do my job.

Sure, a lot of the ideas I thought were gold then are actually complete shit now – in fact some of them were bad even then, but there are a few diamonds in the rough there… a few of which I still intend to get around to at some point. Sometimes an idea needs to breathe first and live later.

A lot of my notes from those days are no more than a few words or a single line, completely devoid of context. This obviously meant something to me when I wrote it at 17, but it means nothing as I stare at the paper at 41. Even with a little creative hindsight, the best reason I can come up with as to why I wrote WHEN THEY WAKE UP I WILL DISAPPEAR, in isolation on a slip of paper, is nothing more than an approximation.

Still, sometimes the why is the most interesting part.

Friday Fiction Fixes #5…

The Ash-Tree by MR James – 1904

MRJames1900It’s very difficult to read stories of this vintage – even those written by a deity of the supernatural genre such as MR James – after spending any length of time with modern authors. It takes a while to acclimatise to the differences in language and the way that the story itself has been put together, but stick with it – it’s a worthwhile excursion.

In some regards it is an unfair comparison, because it’s apples and oranges. MR James was writing at a time when readers did not have the attention span of a gnat. The Ash-Tree – about an inherited English estate with a cursed history – is only 5400 words, but James, one of the most atmospheric writers of his generation, manages to pack more in to that word count than many twenty-first century authors could do with four times the length.

The Ash-Tree was published in 1904 in James’ first collection of shorts, Ghost Stories if an Antiquary, and the full text is available to read for free online here, if you want to give it a look.