Monthly Archives: October 2012

Friday Fiction – Cooling Off

Another Friday, another fiction. This time the photo is courtesy of Jan Morrill, the other stories as always can be found on Madison’s site. And I, as so often happens, heard a voice in my head when I saw the picture and had to write her down!

A friend of mine was telling me last night about a situation where he was given the elbow by a girl and years later, bumped into her. She was mad at him for how things ended – it’s not the first time I’ve heard that sort of story, and for some reason this character reminded me of that type of situation. We (women? people in general?) have a knack for blaming other people, not for their faults, but for not being what and who we want them to be.

Have you ever had that sort of situation? Do you see the similarity in the story below? Feedback, fans and flames always welcome.

Cooling off

Jan felt the sun’s heat dissipate as they ducked into a narrow street.

“It’s hot,” she whined, slowing to a crawl although the ground sloped gently downhill. She recognised a blue door, standing out against the whitewash of the rest of the town. They weren’t far from the villa now.

“Almost there,” Steve coaxed. “Then we can cool off in the pool.”

Her teeth clenched at his patience. “We’re lost!” she scowled.

“I don’t think so.” He was so damned hard to annoy. He couldn’t even disagree with her when she was blatantly wrong. “There, look – phew. We found it.”

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Writing Into Submission

It’s Thursday, which means I should be telling you about a great place to submit your work. And I am, sort of.

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo is a writing project whereby thousands of writers come together every November to challenge themselves. The basic rules are simple – you write a novel of 50,000 words, during the month of November. If you succeed, you “win” and if you fail, you hopefully had fun, learnt something, and written more than you would otherwise have done.

Around those basic rules, there is a huge container ship of optional extras for the enthusiastic WriMo. You can meet others through chatrooms, webforums, real-life meetups; you can change the challenge to suit yourself for example with a different world count or an alternative writing format … the possibilities are endless. Last year I wrote 7 short stories instead of one novel; my friend Victoria is this year re-writing  a previous novel, although she’s doing it the hard way – she’s writing it all over from scratch, using only notes and a plan from last year, and then hoping to combine the best bits of both drafts!

Equally endless is the range of writers involved. Some people take it immensely seriously, write a novel, edit it in the months afterwards and go on to either self-publish or join the traditional publishing model. Others never look at their novel again after 1st December. Some people plot and plan carefully throughout October, some are “pants-ers” and feel the story as they go, others use the dare forums to guide their novel, or follow the theory that says whenever you get stuck, you simply add ninjas.

NaNoWriMo is a lot of fun and a great way to kickstart your writing. 50,000 really isn’t as much as it sounds, but even if you set yourself a lower goal or miss your target, it’s a good thing to try. And you can get as involved as you wish – my first year I just had a few online friends doing nano and mostly flew solo, last year I was heavily involved in the Toronto nano scene. To be honest, I enjoyed it both ways.

If you’ve got any questions, or are wondering whether to give it a go, let me know. If you’re going for it, comment below and I’ll be poking you (supportively) for progress reports whenever I can. And if you’re interested in various ways to get a head start by planning your novel, be sure to stop by next week for a daily series on different ways to plan ahead for any writing project, including a crazy timed one.

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Voice Week – the aftermath

Last week, I participated in Voice Week – a week-long project instigated by BeKindRewrite to write the same scene, story or prompt using a variety of voices or points of view. In keeping with her other challenge – Inspiration Mondays – BeKindRewrite is non-restrictive in how you interpret the challenge, and one of the things I found best about reading the other responses was to see the various ways people went about the challenge.

Some writers took a single story and told it in 5 parts, each focussing on a different character, with a different way of speaking. Others did a similar thing, but changed point of view each time. BeKind herself simply described a scene, but using 5 very different writing styles – from Biblical through gothic literature and beyond. And then there were a few like me, who told a single story from five different points of view.

How did I do? Well, ultimately, that’s for you to decide. I feel the week was a success – lots of generous comments, a few new readers  and I learned a few things about my writing too. Did I explore voice? A little, but within quite narrow bounds; my first three entries had reasonably similar tones, so they were more about interpretation and POV. It was only really on Thursday and Friday that I moved away from a single first person narrator and branched out into different styles of writing.

Wednesday was probably the weakest day. The spider’s point of view needed more space really to do what I wanted it to – her angst got lost in the story. Apparently some readers felt that she was too knowledgable about the situation too, although I’m not sure I agree with that – why shouldn’t she see more than the average observer? My cats certainly do.

Thursday was my favourite – an official report on the sinister clearance of inhabitants – although writers always like to play God and Friday was a variation on that theme.

Did you partake – as a writer or a reader? I’d love to know how you enjoyed Voice Week (and if you didn’t there’s still time to go back and look at either my entries or others).  In addition, I enjoyed it so much, I’m looking for other short-term writing challenges I can join in online. Do you know any? If so, please share a link.

 

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Friday Fiction – The Rebellion

It’s Friday, so there’s a prompt from Madison Woods and a picture courtesy of Raina Ng. What caught my eye in this picture probably isn’t what caught everyone else’s eye – I hope you like it and I’d love to see your feedback.

If you’re looking for the last part of Voice Week it’s here on the previous post. And if you’re not looking for Voice Week, you should be – do have a look back over the past few days for a fascinating project I’ve been enjoying!

The Rebellion

The X-wing soared around the red planet. The Deathstar loomed in the distance, menacing and almost complete.

“He’s on my tail, Red Two, I can’t shake him!” The pilot pulled into a sharp dive, but the Tie Fighter mirrored every move.

“Roger that, Red Leader. Hang in there, buddy.” Luke lifted his own X-wing into a steep ascent.

Beep Beep Beep

“He’s locked onto me, Red Two!”

Luke pulled on a lever to manoeuvre into position, then closed his eyes and let the force guide his trigger. “Ready, R2?”

“Max! Get down off that table! Didn’t you hear the microwave?”

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Voice Week #5

In the final part of my Voice Week exercise, below is another possibility for the story which began as A Mother’s Legacy. You can see all the other versions of this story, and read about Voice Week as a project, on Monday-Thursday’s posts. Again, I’ve tried to break my own mold a bit with today’s version, going right outside they world I know.

If you’re looking for Friday Fiction, go to the next blogpost, Friday Fiction – The Rebellion. Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about this piece, which started life from a Fictioneers’ prompt a few weeks ago.

Legacy

They came from us and so they must all eventually return. For we are All that is and ever shall be.

She walks bent; her human body no longer of value. She will shed it at the shore.

He still clings to his form and, in doing so, clings to hers. He senses, but does not understand. He knows that he must let her go, but wishes she could remain.

He leads her, tenderly, to the water’s edge.

She hesitates, clinging to the last tendrils of experience. For the All feels nothing, hears nothing, knows nothing. And yet, is everything.

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Voice Week #4

In part 4 of my Voice Week submissions, I’ve stepped right outside my comfort zone and tried to give you something different from my normal fiction style. I’m not sure I could sustain it for a longer story, but it was definitely interesting to try for 100 words. You can see the original story and an explanation of Voice Week on monday’s post, then a couple of more normal versions of the story on Tuesday and yesterday’s posts. Please note – the various versions are not all supposed to be simultaneously true; they are different possibilities stemming out of the first story.

Thursday’s Submissions suggestions / Inspiration Mondays posts will be resumed next week.

Legacy

Clearance of properties in the Region Of Redevelopment proceeds with substantial success. Most inhabitants have been dispatched according to classification.

Pockets of resistance remain. At Building 785 gunfire has been intermittent. At 20:00 hours, two individuals were seen escaping into the forest in the direction of the lake. One adult male is believed to have returned to Building 785.

A boat was observed at 21:00 hours carrying a lone elderly female away from shore. Regrettably our tracking beacons were unable to intercept the vessel, which is believed to have escaped into enemy territory.

Final clearance is anticipated within 24 hours.

 

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Voice Week #3

In the third part of my Voice Week submissions, here is another possible version of A Mother’s Legacy. Check out Monday’s post for Version 1 and an explanation of the project, then yesterday’s for Version 2. Today I’m stepping outside the main characters, and trying a different tone. As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

 

A Mother’s Legacy [The Spider]

Humanity bustles through, oblivious. They only ever notice us if they smash through our homes, tearing each carefully woven strand from its anchor point. Then they notice, oh yes. But they notice only their fear.

He’s the same. But she is different. Like me, she has given her all for her children and when she sees my creation, we are one for a moment. Then he speaks: “Come on, Mum. Let’s get you to the shore now.”

And she is no longer the proud and strong spider, but the terrified fly, caught in his snare and unable to break free.

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Voice Week #2

In the second part of my Voice Week submissions, here is another possible version of A Mother’s Legacy. Check out yesterday’s post for version 1 and an explanation of the project. As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

A Mother’s Legacy [The Mother]

I once told my son that if I became terminally ill, he should put me on a boat with a pistol and a prayer. But that was before he married the Black Widow, before it was all about her.

Apparently the doctor said I wouldn’t see out the winter, but I see it now – frost crisping onto the trees and crunching underfoot. And sprinkled on a spider’s web, her babies hanging restless in the centre. She’s given them everything, but it’s not enough.

His hand chills more than the cold. “Come on, Mum. Let’s get you to the shore now.”

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Voice Week #1

Thanks to our friends at BeKindRewrite, I’m signed up to a project this week called VoiceWeek. The idea is to take a single story and depict it in 5 distinct and contrasting voices. If you’re interested in joining in, there’s still time – just click on the link above and check out what to do.

For me, it was an opportunity to explore a short story I wrote a few weeks ago with the Friday Fictioneers, called A Mother’s Legacy. It was a story with so many strands to it and so many potential explanations and avenues, that I wanted to explore them some more. And although it only had two characters, I thought there were five points of view that could be picked up from it.

Today’s post is a repeat of that Friday’s story, but I hope you’ll stop by each day this week for another angle. Each day, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the drafting, the voices and the story itself. And if you do join in the project, leave a link to your own stories so I can stop by and see what you’ve done with this fascinating challenge.

Mother’s Legacy

She knew the path so much better than I, yet I was leading. She had guided me all my life, but now I was ahead.

She was staring into the trees, and I noticed what had caught her attention – a spider’s web, vividly picked out of the darkness by the crystal moonlight. And in the very centre, a tight ball of inhabitants, ready to hatch.

“She’s given them everything,” she said, unable to look away. “Will it be enough, my children?”

I tucked an arm underneath hers, blinking away tears, “Of course, Mum. Let’s get you to the shore now.”

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