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Archive for November, 2013

Short Stories

This past week I’ve read two books of short stories. Both are rather dystopic. It got me thinking about all the short stories I devoured in my teens, i.e. way back in the 1970’s. The library on Fort Jackson owned rows of science fiction books including omnibuses that featured the work of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and other science fiction greats. Many of the stories, probably all, came from the Science Fiction magazines of decades earlier.
As I looked through one book I was reading this week, checking on the authors, many of whom I didn’t recognize sad to say, I found that there still are such magazines circulating. I need to find out if they are on-line or on actual paper. Either way, that’s kinda neat because I thought they’d all vanished.
It’s not easy writing a good short story, at least for me if it’s something other than a Christmas story or one of my kitty fairy tales. I’d love to write a good science fiction one and submit it to a journal. But as I think about it, it’s not really my forte. I write novel length science fiction stories well and I write short Christmas stories well (and fairy tales). Maybe I should go in that direction and find something that will publish those. Food for thought.

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On Editing

Ever read a book and instead start counting grammar mistakes? I usually don’t get that far; I put the book down and move on. The reason I bring this up is because as I consider selling my books as e-books, I’m thinking about hiring an editor to proofread my manuscript. I don’t want to have a review of the book to include: good story, but the grammar mistakes distracted from it.
Being a misery person, the idea is hard to contemplate, yet, I know there will be a mistake or two, or three, or four, or five. I can proofread the manuscript to death, but as soon as I think it’s ready my eyes will fall on the page and there, large as life, is a grammar error. Well, how the heck did I miss that? It’s like there are arrows, flashing neon arrows, pointing to it and yet I’d missed it after a good five read throughs. And I think I’m pretty good with the English language.
Hence the idea of hiring an editor. I have no idea how they do what they do so well. I even toyed around with the idea of becoming an editor. That lasted about a minute. Editors have a skill set I don’t have. So, hooray to all of you out there. I’ll be contacting one. Soon.

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The story I outlined is going well and moving forward. I don’t know if this is the way other people do it, but the way I’ve outlined, just giving a shaky skeleton is working out fine. I can expand sections, decrease, or omit as I want and, so far, I still want to end the story like I have it planned. Will wait and see.
I have decided that outlining works well when I have a story in mind that has a beginning and end. If I don’t have an end, forget it. I’ve been trying to resurrect one story I started with outlining and am getting nowhere. I won’t give up on this story though because it has great characters, a wonderful setting I want to expand on and a interesting premise. That is the beginning is. I’ll have to wait and see how this goes too.

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I’ve started my story and am in the throes of the beginning a story, the feeling that I want to write and not stop, the feeling that I want this done so I can read it.
Using my outline I begin and as I write I start to wonder: Did I make this too short? What if I get only two – three pages for each section? I have twenty-two ‘chapters’ so that would be only forty-four to sixty-six pages. Don’t worry, I tell myself. It’ll expand. Right now I’ll be happy that I don’t have to spend the first day of writing searching for the perfect names. Those I already have. I can just write.
Describe scenes, I tell myself. Describe the people. Which, reminds me, I haven’t yet described how the main character, Leigh, looks like. And maybe I won’t.
On the second day of writing, I’m writing in a notebook by the way, I find myself detailing Leigh’s bedroom the one she shares with her fifteen-year-old sister. I even draw a sketch. My chapters will stretch out. I have still the whole weekend (Leigh’s not mine) to go before she goes to school and is subjected to her humiliation. I’ll have to see what happens during that time.
I had been worried that by writing an outline one loses that spontaneity in writing. This is telling me I won’t. There are still plenty of things to include and, hey, if things change, they change. I’ll just follow the first outline I made, the one that is only a few words long and not a summary of the turn of events.

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