Six Sentence Sunday – Paying the Stump

October 9, 2011

Hey, everybody! It’s Six sentence sunday time again, and these are the first six sentences of a new contest story I wrote last week for the SDMB Short Fiction Contest, Fall 2011 edition:

I was awake before the sun rose that morning, and had to make a point of distracting myself so that I didn’t go into Trevor and Sarah’s room and wake them up too. After all, today was the last day I wanted to really annoy Trevor. He might change his mind about driving me over to the party. That wasn’t really likely, but getting woken up early did annoy him, and why should I take the chance?

So I actually did my chores – fetching water from the well, and chopping firewood, and weeding in the garden, though there weren’t many weeds and they were all small – but hey, as long as you can find them, that’s the best time, right?

Once I was done out in the garden, the sun was up, and Mom was in the kitchen making coffee and toast.

Finished a new story draft!

September 17, 2011

Well, it’s taken a bit longer than I might have hoped, but I’ve finished a new draft of my short story “The Trigger”, based on feedback I got from the Hamilton Writers group and the other two members of the ‘Terrible Trio’. (Which isn’t a name we settled on, because Lydia didn’t approve it.)

The length of this new draft is up by a remarkable amount – from 2000 words in my initial draft, which was a requirement of the SDMB short fiction contest, up to over six thousand! And what’s more, I think I’ve noticed something about the way I tend to tackle story revisions sometimes – not necessarily a good way or bad way, but figuring things out about my own writing process seems a useful thing to be paying attention to at this point.

The thing is, if I know I need to make big structural changes to a story, I don’t tend to work closely based off the previous draft and the critique notes I’ve got from it. I’ll review everything – and then start writing again, as if it were a new story, but based on the previous idea. If there’s a scene or part of a scene that I think would still mostly work, then I copy and paste it in, and edit as needed, but in other places I might just type in a few lines of dialog from memory, or descriptions, without even checking the last draft.

And then, usually, I go over the critique notes again, to make sure that I’m not repeating any bad mistakes from last time. I haven’t gotten to that bit with ‘The Trigger’ yet.

I’ve gone through this pattern a few times since I’ve started tackling short stories in the past two years – changing ‘Samantha and the Wolves’ into ‘The Wolves of Wyoming’, revising ‘Harry and Mars’ before I sent it in to the Kansas workshop participants, rewriting ‘Survey’ into ‘The Wyverns of Werness’ over the workshop weekend, and now ‘The Trigger.’

And this isn’t the only way that I do revisions – I did a fairly substantial rewrite of ‘The Landing’ based much more closely on the previous draft in August, and I’ve done some more superficial revisions as well. This ‘Scavenge and Rebuild’ tactic seems to be a fairly useful one, I think – probably should keep an eye on the results a bit before I let myself get too comfortable with it, but at least it’s a fairly fun way of approaching a rewrite.

What’s your usual approach to doing a rewrite, if you have one?


Late New Creations Blogfest, and a very small fire.

January 6, 2011

First, the blogfest entry.

I’m entering the ‘New Creations’ blogfest late, because I’m still catching up on ‘Show me Yours,’ but I couldn’t resist the fun of actually contributing something for this one. I really like the idea of writing community blogfests, such a great way of networking and having fun together in the blogosphere. I’m going to need to remember to keep watch for more.

So, first, an ending sentence for a book or story finished last year. As it happens, as I reviewed the stories that I finished last year, all the strongest contenders for a closing sentence were from the Straight Dope short fiction contests. Maybe there’s something about trying to write a two thousand word contest story that helps me end it on a high note. The one I’ve picked, somewhat arbitrarily, as the favorite, is this one, from ‘Devin versus the Distinctive Sweater.’

Just in case something else should happen with the damn thing if he forgot it for a few hours.

And now, a brand new sentence to start off a new story, which is how I often get into trouble with new Works in Progress, but anyway:

I didn’t see how I could possibly concentrate on the blue magic, shut up in a stifling little room with no windows like this.

In other news – I had a fire in my kitchen last night. Not a really big one, but it’s frustrating me, especially since the whole thing was my fault. It started with a pot on the stove, not enough water in the pot, and me spending far too much time commenting on other people’s blogfest entries, actually.

I realized that something smelled a bit funny. “That’s weird, it’s almost as if…” Suddenly clued in and rushed over to the kitchen doorway. There was a cloud of smoke starting to obscure the stove, and orange flames licking around the bottom of the pot.

I remember wondering why the smoke detector hadn’t come on, since it usually reacts to the slightest whisp of something burnt before I can even smell it. Filled a plastic one-cup measure up with water from the sink and tossed it into the pot. This quickly turned into a cloud of steam, and set the smoke alarm going, but didn’t actually make a dent on the flame. I tried again, with more water, throwing it underneath the pot, and that helped. I think I needed a third cupful of water at least to put things out, and noticed that a little river of leftover water was carring some soot and ash across the stovetop to the far corner.

It took a while to get rid of most of the smoke, with two windows open in my apartment, (not that pleasant on a January night like we’ve been having lately,) and there’s still a faint smoky smell when I come in from outside. The pot got dumped into the garbage – possibly I could have cleaned the thing off until it was usable, but I just couldn’t cope with leaving it around. I’ve still got some scrubbing to take care of, and a lot of things that were in the kitchen have got little specs of soot that landed on them.

But aside from that, no damage seems to have been done, so that’s good. And hopefully, I’ll be a lot more careful with stoves in the future.

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