Stories

Coffee Shop

May 19th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, News, Publishing, SciFi, Society, Stories, writing

Just posted a new segment over at Uprising, Coffee Shop.  Sorry that it has taken me so long to write, but the first few attempts were . . . boring.  One of the things that I’m trying to do with this story is to simply cut out the parts that people can easily figure out on their own.  If a character needs to get from point A to point B, and one scene ends with him leaving point A and the next starts up with him at point B, then why write about the middle part?  The trouble, then, is getting something interesting into every scene, even when the scene could be extremely short.

In other news, I introduce an eye color body modification, which I call iris doping, basically injecting a colored polymer or something into the iris.  It would be really cool looking, but also be quite difficult to reverse.  If it worked well enough, I’d probably do it.

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The Changing Face of Short Fiction

May 9th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, Publishing, Stories, writing

So how long, really, is a short story? Common definitions define the top end of the length spectrum at anywhere between 7,500 to 20,000 words. Those numbers are for the most part, arbitrary. I mean if you define a short story as having a maximum of 10,000 words, then what is it about that 10,001th word that puts it over the edge? Silly, right? A much better definition is the functional definition famously espoused by Edgar Allen Poe in “The Philosophy of Composition”, which defines a short story as a story that is able to be read in one sitting. This may seem vague, as how much can be read in one sitting will vary from person to person, and indeed for one person from one situation to the next (reading at home vs. on a train, for example). On the other hand, it is much more reasonable than arbitrary word counts.

So what happens when we bring technology into the mix? Reading on a computer is a much different experience than reading a physical book, and the comparison is not necessarily negative. I won’t go into the details of how the two mediums differ, but I will say that electronic text lends itself to shorter reading times. On the computer, for example, there are a million other things going on which conspire to prevent the reader from sinking large amounts of time into something like reading, and this trend will only continue as we get more multi-purpose mobile devices that also act as e-book readers. Second, dedicated readers will also have a tendency towards shorter works, albeit to a lesser degree and for different reasons. The reason I say this is that they are more convenient than paper books (or at least this is where they are heading, currently the point is debatable), and so they lend themselves to the reading in the short periods of time between other things.

As a result, the average time a person spends reading without interruption (a sitting) will shorten. This means that stories broken into smaller and smaller chunks (flash fiction) will become the normal medium of fiction. This is not to say that long-form fiction will go away, because it won’t, just that more of it will be distributed serially. Personally, I think that this is a good thing. As a writer, it forces me to look at scenes as individual stories that contribute as a whole.

I would like to give one example of how this could work (beyond my own project, Uprising, of course). I have just finished reading Word War Z, by Max Brooks, which was fantastic, and for those of you who are not familiar with it, it consists of nothing but fictional interviews with survivors of a global zombie war. Part of the appeal of the book was that most of the interviews were short, and so it was easy to pick up and put down. On the other hand it was written in such a way that it was nearly impossible to put down (partially as a result of knowing that I could at just about any time, I’m sure).

If they were available, I would gladly read other stories that were written in this format, but there aren’t. Instead, its something that we’re going to have to do for ourselves. Which is a topic for another day (a day that will probably be sometime next week, in case you were wondering)

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New Uprising Segment

May 7th, 2008  |  Published in announcement, Fiction, News, Publishing, SciFi, Stories, writing

I just posted a new segment over at Uprising.  Having introduced Linden as a POV character, we start to learn about some of the fundamental differences between her and Ethan.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to tell me what you think.

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New Uprising Segment

April 24th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, News, Publishing, SciFi, Stories, writing

I just posted a new Segment for Uprising, so go check it out

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No Flair for Publicity

April 22nd, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, Flash Fiction, News, Publishing, SciFi, Stories, writing

One of the most underreported things about writing is that, unless your name is Steven King or J.K. Rowling, you have to publicize your work.  There is good reason for this, as I imagine most writers have at least some affinity to the romantic idealization of The Writer, sitting at his or her desk, creating art that will last centuries and change the world.  Unfortunately, partially as a result of this, I myself have missed an important opportunity.

Last week I started posting pieces of flash fiction as part of a larger project, which for now I am calling Uprising.  If I had thought it through, I would have realized that I should just start a new blog for the project, but I didn’t.  That mistake has been rectified, and the project has a home of it’s own, at http://uprising-story.blogspot.com which you should visit immediately.  I am awfully optimistic about the project, and I invite you to help that optimism be borne out.

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The Purpose of Science Fiction

April 22nd, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, Publishing, SciFi, Society, Stories, writing

Sometimes, when I am writing, I worry about how accurate my depiction of technology will be, but I have recently come around to the point of view that it doesn’t matter all that much, so long as it is internally consistent and has a compelling story/characters. This is because only one of Science Fiction’s jobs is to deal with the future. Another is to take situations that we see today and look at them in a different light, from different perspectives, stripped of all the glit that is placed on them by tradition, the media, and society in general.

One of the reasons that I’m bringing this up is that I’m currently working on my Uprising project, which is the first science fiction that I’ve written in a while (having mostly been focusing on fantasy). I’m sure that the majority of my predictions will either go too far or not far enough, but I’m not writing simply to try and guess what the future might look like, I’m writing with the hope that readers will be able to positively affect that future.

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Headline

April 21st, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, Flash Fiction, novel, Society, Stories, Uncategorized, Uprising, writing

“Holy shit! Get up Ethan, you’ve got to check this out!”

For a moment, Ethan thought that the voice belonged to Holly, but then it all came back to him and he had to fight to keep from crying. Holly was dead, killed in the massacre. Other than that, all he knew was that his head felt like it had something tunneling through it and that it was way too fucking bright. If anything, he wished the headache was worse, anything would have been better than thinking about her.

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An Experiment

March 28th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, News, Publishing, site news, Stories, writing

Last year, I wrote about what I saw as the future of short fiction. In that post, I talked about how there was a need for a better way to find short fiction that is available on the internet (particularly free stuff). My original thought was that there should be a site like podiobooks.com.

Upon further reflection, however, it occurred to me that written fiction did not suffer from the same problems as it’s audio counterpart. Mainly, its not difficult to distribute written fiction, just about everyone can create a web page, pdf, or failing that, a simple text file. The difficulty that they do share, however, is publicity- it doesn’t matter how good your stuff is if no one knows its out there.

My first attempt at a solution to this is a digg/reddit style site, where people submit short fiction and then are able to vote on it. Right now, the site isn’t very refined or slick, and it doesn’t have a slick domain name yet, but it is up (I’ll be updating it this next week). If it sounds interesting, go check it out:

http://fish.2mariachis41.com

Right now, I’m setting the site up for just speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy/horror/etc.), but I may change that.  Of course, registration is free and I welcome any suggestions.

Submission Trickery

January 29th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, Publishing, Software, Stories, writing

This morning, I went about formatting one of my short stories for submission.  The instructions called for the document to be in RTF format, and to have headers on all but the first page.  While I like having specific instructions (the less work that the editor has to do in order to review my story, the more time he has to reflect on the obvious brilliance before them).

The problem with the RTF/Headers thing is that headers are, apparently, not natively supported by the RTF format, and so many of the free programs out there are not able to accomplish this.   Bean cannot do headers at all (no problem there, its still my favorite word processor), Abiword seemed to freak out when I tried to remove the header for the first page, and NeoOffice simply told me that it was unable to create an RTF file with headers (but it would most happily do so with the OpenDocument Text format).

In the end, I used Nisus Writer Express to do the job (probably one of the best Word Processors, ever).  MS Word could probably have done the job, but I don’t trust it with anything other than .doc files (no need to send in a possibly mangled manuscript and hope that the editor is in a good mood).

Hope that helps you aspiring writers out there.

Caldera 9 – Elpida

August 22nd, 2007  |  Published in Caldera, Fantasy, Fiction, novel, Stories, writing

Four days after Caden and Tiernan had left the bridge cities, the fortress of Yasiliki was visible against the mountains. The fortress looked as though it belonged on a mural in a king’s archive. Built of a grey stone so dark that it looked black from a distance, the castle rivaled the majesty of the mountains whose foothills it was built on. The angular towers that soared above the walls looked as though they were nearly as tall as the ice-capped peaks that pierced the sky, and Caden couldn’t tell if that were truly the case or if it was just a trick of the eyes. Yasiliki had stood for generations, but only a handful of armies had marched against it. Seeing it with his own eyes, Caden now understood why. A commander would have to be insane to march against that.

Looking past the castle, Caden could see that Celia hadn’t been exaggerating, grass extended to the horizon, waves rippling across it’s surface with the breeze that flowed in from the East. It seemed to Caden that where the ripples touched it, the grass looked as though it was made out of emerald, so bright it was nearly white in places. He had gotten so used to the effects of the sword that he froze when he realized that he wasn’t holding it. When he looked again, though, the effect was gone.

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