The three challenge stories I am doing for the household – that I talked about several weeks ago – are well underway, and should probably all come in as flash fiction.
The Fiancée© decided upon a thriller with the word cave as inspiration. Her tale is called Tites Go Down (although I’m really not impressed with that title, and it will probably change). It currently sits at just over 600 words. I quite like it, but I’m not sure the kids are going to enjoy what happens in the story to them!
Daughter went with the word lake and wanted a mystery… so that’s what she is getting. Her tale is about 600 words and is called Last Chance Lagoon. I’m enjoying this one too and at this early stage it feels like it may end up being the best of the three.
Son went for a drama with the word equality. I initially struggled getting some traction with this one because it is such a broad genre and – dare I say it – a bland word to use. But that was what I was given, so I won’t shirk the challenge. Monochromatic is currently around 500 words.
I have decided to give myself a Christmas Day deadline for these three stories. I can print them out and save myself a few quid on gifts.
Word count – 6,200
Trucks is about a bunch of autonomous – yes, you guessed it… trucks. The story is set entirely in a rest stop after the trucks have taken control of the surroundings and are keeping the patrons as their playthings.
There’s not much going on in Trucks, and we never find out why the vehicles have suddenly become sentient – not that it matters, I guess. Sometimes keeping the mystery is fine, and let’s face it: any explanation would probably sound like bullshit anyway, so why bother trying, right?
The story picks up in the second half, as the survivors decide on the best course of action, but this never really clicks the way I would like it to, or indeed the way that it should. I think if King wrote this ten years later it would be a much better piece, but as it stands it’s
With this little writing challenge I set myself a couple of weeks ago I reckon I have stumbled upon a trifecta of (potentially) good stories. It may take some time to get them done, especially at this busy time of year, but perhaps I will stick them under the tree and offer them up as Christmas gifts.
Admittedly, the stories took a while to get to where I wanted them to go, but I now have a clear direction for each of them and it’s just a case of joining the dots and finding the picture that they make.
My biggest hurdle will be once I present the final products, because I can see the narratives putting a few noses out of joint in my closed audience.
It’s fiction, people. Try to remember that.
Word count – 3,600
Battleground is a simple idea, as the best short stories often are. A hitman finds a mysterious package has been delivered to his apartment, and when he opens it he discovers it is filled with a platoon of toy soldiers who are out to kill him for the job he has just done.
It’s all action, all the way, and there is little room to catch your breath. There is next to no character development, and not much in the way of a backstory, but it really doesn’t matter, because it’s just so damn cool.
Battleground is the best story I have read from Night Shift so far. There would perhaps be an argument that at its brief length it reaches its conclusion far too quickly, but that is a minor quibble in an otherwise very strong entry for this anthology.
Word count – 4,700
Gray Matter is an early effort from Stephen King, and it feels like it. It’s about a fungus (of sorts) that seemingly develops from a can of beer and proceeds to become one with the guy drinking it. There is really not much more to it than that.
Gray Matter is one of those horror tales that has no explanation – something weird happens… but we never find out why. Now, whether that is because King was simply too lazy to come up with an answer, or he didn’t think it needed one, I don’t know. For the most part I have tried to steer away from writing that way, because it can be infuriating, and that is certainly the case here.
This is one of the poorer entries in Night Shift so far. It’s not clever by any stretch, and it’s fairy basic old-school horror. It is also very talky and reflective and doesn’t have all that much going on either, so… on to the next one.
Not Recommended ⇓
The printing of all my stories is taking a long time, not least of all because the connection between my laptop and the printer seems to be extremely temperamental, and it forces my computer to blue screen and shut down every once in a while. But I’m doing that a little at a time while I get on with other stuff.
I unintentionally started another Jack & Patrick story this week. I was doodling and coming up with ideas, and before long I was putting something down that will probably end up being the next tale in that series.
I also set myself a little writing challenge. I asked The Fiancée© and her two children to each give me a genre and a word to act as inspiration, and I would pen a story in which they were the central character, and the other two would also appear as supporting players… and with varying degrees of success, they all gave me something to work with.
It’s tough, but the gauntlet has been thrown down (by my own hand, no less) so that’s where my efforts currently lie.
I used to print out my stories as I finished them but somewhere along the line I stopped, and as a result the only hard copies I have of my work exists in the magazines and books that I have via their publication.
At least, that was until this week…
I decided that I wanted to have everything there in front of me, filed away on paper. Yeah, it’s a little old fashioned, but there is something satisfying about stories on the page, as opposed to double-clicking a word document. It also means I don’t have to boot up my laptop to look at something I’ve written.
So, I bought a couple of ink cartridges, a heap of plastic pockets, a few lever-arch ring binders, and a shit-ton of paper, and started the process.
And it’s a long process.
I am working back in time and have gone through two cartridges of ink already, which has only got me the last seven years of work… so I’m going to need another trip to the supermarket soon.
But it’s nice to have a physical record of what I’ve been doing. On that note, I discovered that I was missing a first draft of a story I wrote in 2013. Can’t find it anywhere. Fortunately, I have the redraft stored (and now printed), so all was not lost.