Creative writing

This tag is associated with 12 posts

Flash Fiction – Harder than it Looks

I finally completed my first attempt at flash fiction and submitted it to Flash Fiction Online.  What an experience!

Initially the story, currently titled Uncommon Magic, was somewhere around 1065 words, which would have been acceptable as long as I would be willing to cut it down to 1000 or less if it was actually accepted.  However, in the true spirit of flash fiction I wanted to trim it down for a couple of reasons.

One is that I’ve read so many books, blogs, etc. which all agreed writing short fiction is extremely difficult because every word has to count.  Since this was the first story I’ve written in years, and since it was purely for myself, for a sense of fulfillment, I decided to give it everything I had.

And secondly, why would anyone submit something that wasn’t finished to the point that it could realistically stay in its current form if the long-shot, one-in-a-million chance, happened and it was picked to be published?  I’m now at the point that I can’t imagine having to change anything else in it.

I now fully understand what I’ve read – that it truly is all about revision.  It several hours total revising a three and a half page story.  I can’t imagine the struggle involved in revising a 300 page novel.  I found I was able to mold Uncommon Magic so that the main character had more personality and I could see the scene around him when I closed my eyes.

If it’s rejected, which I’ll be sure to pass along, I’ll try submitting it to a few other markets just to test the waters and if nothing else, I’ll be posting it here.

Uncommon Magic

Total Words = 997         Total Time Invested = 8+ hours

Websites and Articles about Authors and Writing – Tips, Earnings, Etc.

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been compiling a few websites related to writing that I found interesting.   Normally, I found them through a typical Google search looking for author earnings info on short stories and ebooks.  Basically I was procrastinating in my favorite way – Googling random things.

Without further ado, so I can get back to more aimless searching, here are the websites:

  1. Lindsay Buroker’s blog is a great resource and surely gives inspiration to those hoping to make writing their day job.  Granted, she took her time and worked hard for her success.  She doesn’t shy away from posting actual lessons learned and earnings reports.
  2. The Writer’s Cafe can be found on the Kindleboards.com website.  This site has a wealth of information if you’re willing to spend some time digging.  There are updates on various indie authors’ sales or numbers of times their book was borrowed through Amazon.  It has a great community feel to it as well.
  3. Robin Sullivan’s article, The New Midlist, from June 27, 2011 is an interesting read, giving stats on her husband’s success.
  4. The Good E Reader blog is another one with a never-ending amount of information.  There are sections focused on Indie Author News, Digital Publishing News, and so on.  This is one I’ve tabbed and plan to return to regularly.
  5. Rebecca Brandewyne’s website had some good informational posts like The Pros and Cons of Being a Writer and Advances & Royalties – How Authors are Paid, although I have to admit that I did have to mute my laptop and make an effort to look past the sparkling letters (seriously, if you click through, brace yourself).  She obviously writes in a genre that I’m not actually interested in, and it appears that most of the information is a few years old, but some concerns are consistent across genres and throughout time.

Lessons Found in Unlikely Places – Emily Dickinson 1350

Emily dickinson

Image via Wikipedia

Tired after a long day’s work, I sought a quick distraction before shutting down.  Emily Dickinson came to the rescue.  Here is her short, yet powerful untitled poem 1350

Luck is not chance —
It’s Toil —
Fortune’s expensive smile
Is earned —
The Father of the Mine
Is that old-fashioned Coin
We spurned —

I find it extremely interesting that someone who lived in such extreme isolation can speak so perfectly of  hard work and ambition.  Thank you Emily.  I will make my own fortune, my own luck.

Short Stories on Kindle

I bought my wife a Kindle Fire for Christmas and as a result ended up with her old Kindle.  While the majority of my reading will still be of physical books, I’ve been impressed with the Kindle’s convenience.  As such, I’ve been looking into uses for it beyond reading a normal novel, specifically the availability of short stories on it.

Unfortunately, it is a good news and bad news scenario.  The good news is that there seems to be a growing amount of short fiction on the Kindle, a ton of it actually.  For those serious writers out there, the bad news is that there also seems to be a large amount of free fiction as well, both short fiction and novel length.

With the increasingly prevalent impact that technology is having on the publishing industry, I’ve often wondered what impact it would eventually have on those writers who earn their living through their craft.  I have to believe that the increasing amount of material made available by hobby writers, many times for free or as good as free, is hurting that side of the industry.  If nothing else, the pure saturation of material will likely become overwhelming.

From what I’ve seen on various blogs and magazines, it’s a very hotly debated question – should someone offer their material for free so that they get exposure and readership?  I’m a strong supporter of the writing community, from the closet writer without a finished story to his name to those admired few who have the talent and fortitude to make a living at it, be it modest or extraordinary.  However, it scares me to see the results when I do a search for ‘short stories’ in the Kindle Store and then narrow it down to Fantasy Kindle ebooks.  Eleven of the twelve items displayed on the first screen are all free.

That question may never have a final answer just because each person’s scenario is different.  Some people do need to use the opportunity and impact of a free short story as a lead-in for their additional work.

However, the question I haven’t seen posed anywhere though is – How much is the hobby writer adversely impacting those writers who use the Amazon fees to pay their bills?

I’d love to hear thoughts and comments on this.

Untitled Poem 1

I did a little free-write last night and here’s the result.  I won’t tell you my motivation but would be very interested in hearing your thoughts.  It’s been years since I’ve attempted something like this.

Dark is the beast of man elect,

Common in all but chance.

The pale of heart bend weakened knee,

Heads the floor of the dance.

With vigor and prowess in youthful despair

Draped in comforting trink

A gift borrowed from heredity

Swift to razor’s brink.

A man, no man, inside a man,

Found himself a fool

Used by those on bended knee

The brute no less a mule.

~ Nick Andrews

One Word – An Extremely Fun Writing Exercise

If anyone is looking for an interesting way to start the creative juices you should take a look at the website oneword.com.  It’s a simple idea.  You have 60 seconds to write about a single word that you’re presented with.  Then, once time is up, your entry is posted right along everyone else’s.

The 60 seconds spent helped break the ice and it was really interesting to read everyone else’s interpretation of the same word.

Character Creation – Thoughts on Character Sheets and Generators

Before I broke ground on what will hopefully be my first completed short story (should finish the first draft this weekend), I fell into what many seem to find – the spinning black hole that is research, research, and continual research.  Looking back, I wish I had kept track of the enormous amount of time I wasted.  I’m sure it’s a ridiculous number, however, I did find a few diamonds sites that will continue to prove worthwhile.

Part of my research focused on character creation, more specifically how a writer’s characters take shape and come alive.  I’ve never had a problem with putting the basics on paper but was and still am very interested in hearing how others do it.  There is a ton of material out there for this, especially if you count the character sheets and generators normally used for role-playing games.  Since my initial writing will be in the fantasy genre I ran into a ton of that type of thing.  I actually stayed away from them and kept my search pointed toward those websites and resources focused on helping writers.

There are two main websites the proved extremely helpful.

1.  The resource page of National Novel Finishing Month

2.  The Seventh Sanctum

Each of them have more materials than I’ve even used at this point, but I really like the generators on The Seventh Sanctum and the character sheets on NaNoFiMo.  The generators are amazing.  While I haven’t used anything exactly as it was ‘generated,’ I have used it several times when I hit a block on how my new character, Yuri, might act or some of the experiences he might have.

The character sheets, on the other hand, I honestly haven’t used much but can see how they’d prove helpful.  My thought is to establish the basics of who Yuri is and then let him evolve before working on things like his background story, motivation, etc.  I did start out with a basic outline of his character but found that as soon as I started writing him into his current situation, he changed tremendously.  He went from an elf, to a dwarf, to a gnome, which of course meant that most everything else had to change too.  We’re now to the point that I can mentally see him and feel like I’ve gotten to know him, so maybe I’ll fill that sheet out again in the not-to-distance future.

If anyone out there has had experience using anything similar, please feel free to comment.  I’d still love to hear how others develop their characters, and whether or not you’ve had success with things like the generators or character sheets.

Cheers!

Mad Hatter Miscellany – A New Start and a New Look for 2012

Readers,

I spent the majority of this past week thinking of what I hope to accomplish in 2012, both with my writing and life in general.  Some people make one resolution and try to stick with it throughout the year, but I’m more of a list person so I’ve made a list.  Yes, I included everything from my list.

  1. Worry about what I can affect, accept what I can’t.
  2. Get published at least once – whether it be a short story, poem, or any other creative work.
  3. Bench press my weight at least once (I used to be able to do 1.3 times my weight, years ago).
  4. Keep my blog updated with at least one post a week.
  5. Be a better brother and son.  Call my Mom and Sister at least once a week.
  6. Make 2 new, good friends.
  7. Travel to at least one new place, out of State, this year.
  8. Go to Church at least 3 times a month.

So far, I’ve already made changes to Mad Hatter Miscellany which should help me be a more consistent blogger.  It had gotten to the point where I was putting in a ton of time researching what I wanted to write about.  I wanted it to have a definite focus and eventually found myself with tunnel vision.  Going forward, it will continue to have a creative-writing focus, but I will also allow myself to go off on tangents.  You may see a post about a great short story followed by comments on investing.

I am about halfway through a new short story that I’ll be submitting to publishers as soon as all my revisions are done.  Wish me luck!

Lastly, thank you to anyone and everyone out there who take the time to support the writing community.  Most writers hold day jobs and hone their craft in their spare time, so taking the time to comment on a post or leave feedback in Amazon on one of their short stories or novels goes a long way.

Happy New Year and here’s to a great 2012!

Nick

April 2011 Poem-a-Day Challenge

Readers,

While perusing the Writers Digest website, I came across their poetry blog, Poetic Asides by Robert Lee Brewer.  The blog regularly has guest posts with great advice and information, and Brewer does a decent job of leading writers with weekly writing prompts.  You’ll see your typical amount of Writers Digest product placement for their magazines or books, but not in a way that distracts from the real intent of the blog.

The main reason I’m sharing this is Brewer’s March 1st post.  Poetic Asides holds a Poem-a-Day (PAD) Challenge in April that is open to anyone.  The guidelines can be found here but in short, here are some details:

  • Runs April 1 – April 30th
  • Daily prompts will be posted on Poetic Asides
  • Poets can post their poems directly in the Comments section of the website or pick their best 5 and email them to Brewer by May 5th.
  • Brewer will pick the top  50 poems from the contest and name a Poet Laureate

While I have no illusions of making the top 50, submitting 5 new poems by May 5th based on the prompts should be do-able.  I will do my best to remember to post my submissions on here as well to get your feedback. 

Let me know if anyone else out there will be taking part in the contest.  I’m interested in seeing how much interest this contest creates and would love to read other writers’ submissions.

Cheers and Happy Writing!

~ The Hatter

Commonplace Books – Interesting Idea – Thanks Thomas Jefferson

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peal...

Image via Wikipedia

Readers,

Today, while I was researching the life of Thomas Jefferson with a particular focus on his poetic appreciation I came across notes on his Literary Commonplace Book.  Wow… how did I not know about this phenomenon?

Apparently, sometime during the Renaissance it became popular to collect favorite verses, thoughts, prayers, or even recipes in what amounted to be a scrapbook.  Eventually, the well-educated were urged to do so during their college years.  Thomas Jefferson began his at age fifteen and continued adding to it until age thirty.  Other famous authors such as Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Mark Twain kept various types of commonplace books.  They could range from basically a journal of scribbled notes and ideas, like Twain’s, to a more familiar scrapbook of pasted newspaper articles, like Thomas Jefferson’s.

I’ve never been one to make use of a journal, even though I do think they are a great creative writing resource, but I can honestly say that seeing how the commonplace books were used throughout history has really inspired me.  I’d love to hear if others are using commonplace books and how you got started.

Also, if you’re interested you can read my full article, Thomas Jefferson – President and Poet, by clicking Here.

The Hatter

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