clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Saturday, January 6, 2018

On the Page

Image above from Przykuta and Ellywa as hosted on wikicommons and used here with attribution.

I spent some time this holiday going over some iced drafts of short stories from early 2017. Each of the five had been iced after a considerable bit of work marking each as "nearly ready" but for another word choice pass and maybe a little more trimming-down.

I find in each of the three dark stories I have broken characters but too little of the "broken" part is spilling onto the page. The characters are not sufficiently wounded or react with a sufficient wince to the stories' pin-pricks dwelling on their past mistakes.

Too little mayhem on the page. I know, right?

The topics are serious. The conflict is serious (is there any other kind?), the stakes are high; but,  the emotional tumult of the situations are inexpertly expressed.

Remember in The Road the early section where McCarthy has the father and child enter the old gas station and the father picks up a telephone to call his own father's number from the "before" and the child turns asking, "What are you doing?" That pinprick of criticism in a child's voice bringing all the missed opportunities and unfinished business of the "before" and the almost scathing reminder to focus on the "now" resonates so clearly that even my inept relation of the piece here makes sense to you.

The father is burdened by his memories and experiences of what he lost. The child knows only this present desolation and has no patience for anything but the current, the "now" -- nor should the father indulge himself given the current tumult.

I need this pinprick of resonance and I've missed it. If my protagonist's adversary is a mirror of his opposite's twisted experience and wounded perspective, put it on the page!

  So, the light pieces where crime is sanitized and acceptable, fine. In the pieces I intended to master when I started with the pen seriously again here eight years ago, I missed it.

I see it now, though. Revisions can fix anything. I've almost got the chops now to say that with real confidence instead of false bravado.

Almost. Pretty damn close.

I've got some good stuff in here folks. I'm going to get it out very soon.

I hope you do as well.

Let's spill some of the best and brightest ink we can this winter's session.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Left, a funerary urn from St. Columba's, Stewarton, East Aryshire. Photo courtesy Rosser1954 and hosted on wikicommons for the mere price of attribution.

Every image we craft in prose has a backstory.

We have to know it. It influences the behavior of the characters and the things about them. We authors know it.

The reader may discover bits and pieces but largely, the backstory is not for them.

My story tonight is all backstory so we'll parse it out in one decisive edit. There. Gone.

I have been left a fabulous hook from an unfinished tale.

Up to my efforts now.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Holiday Writing

At left, this evening's decadence: eggnog and rum. If you add enough rum you get that wonderful marbling effect.

I'm composing. I'm drafting. I'm writing.

He's how it works: I put my ass in a chair and I write.


Yes, there are lots of other distractions. No, I'm not responding to them.

Day job -- it's a good day job so there's that -- then gym, then a little household clearance, then library and desk.

I'm fixing old work. I'll looking at structure and twists and character development and changing those parts that have never quite worked.

There's a novel in the folder but through the holiday: short stories. 

Watch out. The body count is climbing.

The rum bottle is nervous it might be next.

Who can say?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

First, Tell Yourself

At left, G. Lanting allows us the use of the road image for just the attribution. Thanks! Road image hosted on wikicommons.

This is the Old Strynefjell road in Norway. Good metaphor.

I have to tell myself the story before I can write it. I don't know all; but, I have a map: a vision.

I have a beginning, middle, and an end.

Projects I can see to completion have this map. Many of my still-wip projects did not and still do not have such defined elements.

I tell myself the story. I write a draft. I write another draft. The story becomes full, integrated, and comprehensible in the process.

Today, I picked up an incomplete project from the fall of '16 and in a revision, I managed to tell myself the story.

I've a map for the next one to compose now. I've characters and their traits. I have events and their meaning. I know the end. I know the killer. I even know the why.

It isn't important the reader know all those things even after finishing my tale.

It is important I know it before I compose the first full draft.

Feels better to me this way.

Might feel better for you.

Certainly it makes the hours in the composing mode much more enjoyable for me. It's easier for me to find the correct words when i know in advance what I want them to do for me.

Great looking road, eh?  I'm more a "drive along the valley floor" fellow than a "drive along the ridgeline" sort.