Tag Archives: story

The Verdict…

Time to find out how well I did reaching my target.

And now to explain why I have to work this out.  Well, you see, as soon as I went away for the weekend, I realised I would be writing the fruits of this challenge on Evernote and that Evernote doesn’t have a word count function.

Immediately upon discovering this, however, I realised it was actually quite a blessing.  It made me paranoid that I might overestimate how much I was writing, and therefore not hit my 5,000 word target because I was prematurely resting on my laurels.  The result of this was a huge case of pre-emptive overcompensation to make sure I wouldn’t fall short.

So, what’s the verdict?

At this point, I’d like you to imagine a supercomputer making what the ’70s understood to be computer calculation noises.  For those who are struggling, it sounds like the noise wind chimes would make if they bleeped rather than chimed.  Wind bleeps, you might say.

Anyway, here it is!  Computer says…

It's... not actually over 9,000...

7773 words.  In eight days.

Wow.  I may not have reached 10,000, but I actually doubled my normal work output.  In fact, I achieved my 5,000 word target in just one weekend, look!  And, to be fair, you can only produce so much twaddle before you have to stop and organise the twaddle you already have.  Then you can work out where you are twaddle-deficient and fill in the gaps with adequate levels of additional twaddle.

So, now it’s time to put all this stuff in the folder and start thinking about what needs doing next.

And award myself the sapphire relic, of course.  Nice job, methinks.

Also, determined to read May Contain Nuts before March arrived, I blasted through several chapters last night and am proud to say I have completed it.  Another novel down!  Now to find a shiny new book to read…

Audience Participation Time!

Behold, readers.  This is better than a post.  It is an opportunity to torment me.

This week I’ve been feeling a touch low about writing and a bit unsure of my plot, so I want to get away from my novel for a few days and just write – maybe, heaven forbid, complete ­­– a piece of short fiction.

That’s where you guys come in!  Give me a genre, setting, object and/or character trait and I shall get cracking.  Seriously, I don’t care whether your ideas are mundane or completely off the wall.  No-one who talks to themselves as much as I do can judge you for weirdness.

Ready?  Go!

The Storydactyl Grows Feathers

Only as the final few rectangles of card fell to the kitchen table did something magnificent occur to me this week.  Something which tickled my organisation glands and caressed my nostalgia nodes.  Oh yes.  Ladies and gentlemen, I have a new process.

You see, recently I have been drawn back to the plot cards I invented a few weeks ago.  To recap, the plot cards are small cards describing story events – however major or minor – which I feel need to go into the plot.  I place the cards into chronological order so I can work out which sequence of events makes the most sense and where every plot point goes – or doesn’t  go.

Anyway, I had come up with some extra little events to add to this collection, so I went ahead and started looting the crafts drawer (I live with a nine-year-old) for some card and scissors.

However, here I faced a harrowing organisation crossroads.  You may recall that I used pink card the first time around.  What I didn’t mention, not least because it has utterly no relevance and can be of interest to nobody but me, is that when I cut out my second set of cards, I cut them on a different shade of pink card by accident.

When I took to the kitchen for my third encardment, therefore, I had a choice.  I could either use one of the previous colours, accepting that one of the sets would be the odd one out, or just go for different colours and be done with it.  I picked the latter option and out came the yellow card.

What I did not immediately realise, however, was the latent novelty of having been, uh… forced to do this.  As I accumulate more and more card sets, I can see which parts of the plot I started with and when and how I have added to this original model.  I can actually look back and see the evolution of my idea.  Check it out!

The dark pink set came first, the light pink set, second, and the yellow, third.  The first set is all towards the end and beginning, which shows how little clue I had about those middling chapters.  It’s really satisfying to see how much I’ve incorporated into that section since then.  Feeling good about it.

So, why is it nostalgic?  Well, in the good old days, the process of defragging one’s computer was a colourful affair.  Not just for a 90s child obsessed with charts and colour-coding, but literally.  There used to be a bar with hundreds of coloured lines in it.  These represented shards of computer files scattered in different locations on the computer.  As the computer reunited the pieces of each file, the strands would reunite into big blocks of the same colour.  Whenever I see my pack of coloured cards in profile, I think of that.

Or a really, really fruity bar code.

The Black Cat

When I was about twelve, I watched an episode of Charmed in which an entity called the Demon of Fear used a witch’s worst fear to scare her socks off.  And when I say, “scare her socks off,” I actually mean scare her to death.  Her hair would go white and she would die from a heart attack.

Although in that instance the white hair was pretty laughable, and I wasn’t positive why someone with a fatal fear of earthquakes would inhabit San Francisco, sometimes I reckon that fear-induced heart attack could happen to me.  I don’t want to take drugs.  However, if anything makes living clean a necessity it’s the strong suspicion that, if I took a paranoia-inducing substance, I’d get myself in such a fearful state I’d exhaust either my heart or my adrenal glands and keel over.  (Trivia: did you know you actually cannot survive without adrenal glands?)

I am an intensely paranoid person, and almost always over completely irrational things.  Anything supernatural weirds me out – especially anything involving ghost children.  The Ring truly traumatised me as a teenager.  Ten years on I can barely stand to sit in the living room after everyone else has gone to bed because I still get the heebie-jeebies thinking about it.  The Sixth Sense got me too, and I’ve seen enough screenshots of The Exorcist to want to steer clear.  The body bag in A Nightmare on Elm Street freaked me out too.  And the baby on the ceiling in Trainspotting.  Okay, that one wasn’t strictly horror, but it still was not pleasant.

It is for this reason that I have speculated upon my capacity to write horror fiction.  I do like the idea of it.  I’m just a big scaredy cat and worry I’ll get sucked into the darkest recesses of my mind and never pull myself back out.

This is one of the reasons I have been casually delving into the works of Edgar Allan Poe.  When I was in Year Nine, I remember having a great substitute teacher who got us to read The Black Cat.  As a result, I used the infinite power of the Kindle to bag a copy of Poe’s works for 77p or some similar crazy amount and began to mooch through a couple of his short stories.  (The other reason I was having a read is because I am adapting to the short story environment and was hoping for some guidance from one of the greats.)


The Black Cat is fantastic.  Poe writes a narrator’s account of a series of strange coincidences – perhaps supernatural occurrences – in his life as he yields to a drinking problem and he allows his affection towards his loved ones to turn to abuse.  His beloved cat, which he kills, appears to be haunting him for his betrayal, and eventually it is another black cat who reveals his murder of his wife to the authorities.

I think what Poe’s works have made me realise is this: I prefer general eeriness to out-and-out terrifying scenes.  I thoroughly enjoy a subtler tone; something more psychological.  I’ve always been a fan of unexplained events or mysterious circumstances, like the Bermuda Triangle, tales of haunted buildings or unsolved murder cases.  As a kid I loved programmes like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and It’s A Mystery.

What I’m saying is, I’ll probably always be a wimp.  I’m never going to sleep after I watch some girl with a green complexion turn her head all the way around.  But, thanks to Poe, I am three pages into an eerie short story and feeling good about it.