A Drabble…

The paragraphs below depict a micro-story I wrote for a blog I found recently.  Interestingly enough, it is always fun to include classic literary devices within a ‘word-filtered’ sentence combination.  I enjoyed editing the story; the original was over 300 words, over 200 words of their submission requirement.  My final submission was 98 words.  Due to the differences of the two drafts, I included both of them, here.  By request I will remove the actual submission.
Sam and Sam
Both car doors closed close to the same time.  A teenage school girl named Samantha and her male friend named Sam both exited their parents’ vehicles in front of the local bookstore known for its darkstout coffee.  “How goes it?” she asked.  “Great,” he said.  They went in to order a coffee.  They both liked cold house coffee; it was cheaper than the more extravagant lattes.  “I will take a house coffee on ice,” said Sam, attempting to hand the cashier with crimson red-blonde hair a five. She then heard Sam say, “I will have the same, however I will pay for both.”  She said thank you and Sam handed the cashier a ten.
After receiving their coffees they explored the store.  There were a great many exciting books and periodicals.  They both loved to read and did well in school.  After noticing how much the bestsellers cost, they visited the music section.  Sam and Sam liked most music, however they loved rock and dance the most.  “Check it out!” said Sam, and Samantha ran over to him.  It was a newly released greatest hits live recording by “nin”.
“Let’s put our money together and we can listen to it later,” said Samantha, too excited to wonder about teenage puppy love.  “Okay,” said Sam – their parents would be back anytime.  Their hour was nearing its death.  They made it to the checkout line and it seemed to be keeping the pace of a sprinting post-storm snail.
Samantha gave Sam her five and it was their turn.  There existed a man behind them deep in thought, holding a book titled, “On Living Well”.  The new C.D. was listed for $11.89; the teller said, “Your total is twelve ninety-six.”  “We are short seventy-six cents,” said Sam on accident.  Samantha was confused; the man behind them said, “Keep your money.  I will buy that disc for you.”  “Wow,” said Sam, “What is your name?”  “Atticus.”
Sam and Sam, by J. C. Martin, III
They exited their parents’ vehicles in front of a bookstore known for darkstout coffee.  “Howdy,” she said.  “Hi,” went inside.
Cold house coffee,” requested Samantha, tried paying.  Sam said, “I will have the same,” paid for both.  “Thank you.
They explored.  “Check it out!” exclaimed Sam, seeing a new release by “nin“.  “Let’s listen to it later.”  “Okay.
Their hour dwindled.  Checkout kept the pace of a sprinting poststorm snail.  Samantha gave Sam her five.
A man held a book, “On Well Living”.  “$12.96.”  “We’re short.”  “I’ll buy it.”  “Okay.”  “What is your name?”  “Atticus.

A Frantic Day

A Frantic Day

“I have to get these thoughts down,” thought our Miserly; “Must find a place for expedient jotting…”  She had been skimming through a periodical on writing all morning – the forty-five minute rail-ride was over.  The periodical had some very inspirational notions, indeed; she could but not resist reading its every article.  An excited writer, Miserly kept pursuing more technique.  “Well developed characters,” she thought, “A beautiful scene, some things occur, and then… wham!  Of course, the aftermath.”

So many things to do on her day off, she put them mostly aside.  Miserly was seventeen and brilliant.  She jogged to her nearest library and found a quite, lowered desk in the shape of an amoeba, by a large and dull window, without too much external distraction, after signing in.  “A protagonist, a problem, and a solution,” she thought.

“His name was Paul Goodman…” she wrote.  As she began to scribe in a hurried but quick and legible manner, a library worker strolled by, giving Miserly a nonchalant glance.  Miserly knew she must return a nod, or unknown things may occur.  The worker nodded in return, seeing she (Miserly), though frantic, was up to nothing worse than writing.

Miserly described Paul and his plight well.  He was a man in between jobs and in need of one soon.  She alluded to Paul’s selfless desire to live a better life, to work well and provide assistance to those in need, somehow.  It was 4:30 AM.  Paul was on a city sidewalk, and he would have to try to keep himself in proper demeanor to get a good job.  No one would hire him looking exhausted, unkempt, slipshod.

Mr. Goodman’s thoughts were to attain a newspaper and tidy up quickly in his flat.  He would then pursue something on foot from the classifieds.  As he strolled toward a metal newsstand box, two things occurred.  A worker opened the newsstand box to place the papers in the device, and a small car ‘t-boned’ a duly only forty feet away.

Paul made his way quickly to the worker and said, “I would like to buy a paper before you close that box.  Please, kind sir.”  The worker’s name was Mr. Whirley.  He was an assistant editor who happened to still fill the paper boxes once a week, as he did long ago.  Mr. Whirley handed him a paper; took out a small camera and took a picture of the accident as the drivers were making their exodus from the two vehicles; let Paul put his change in the machine; and asked, “What is the hurry with your wanting a paper?  Eager to know the weather?”

“I am in desperate need of a job and am open to most anything legitimate that will pay,” said Paul, “I lost my job and have personal responsibilities.”  “We just had two people leave our department last week,” said Mr. Whirley, “We need a ‘Proofer.’  Do you have any experience in editing, whatsoever?”  “Not professionally,” said Paul, “I am an avid reader of novels, however.”  “Who is your favorite novelist?” asked Mr. Whirley, as he took another picture of the drivers approaching.

“I like the more famous authors and like their style,” said Paul; “My favorite author is currently Stephen King.”  “What would you think about a ten-day temporary job, six hours a morning?” asked Mr. Whirley, “We need the help; I like your enthusiasm; and if you do well we should be able to keep you around.  We need no errors in our articles.”  “I would love that and thank you,” said Paul, considering this offer to be a blessing.  He and Mr. Whirley shook on it, and Mr. Whirley said, “Respond to the ad in the paper that mentions my office before noon, today, and you just may have yourself a new job.”  “Thank you good sir,” said Mr. Goodman, “I do appreciate you and will be there.”

By then the two drivers both asked the two gentleman conversing if they had seen the accident.  They both agreed that they saw what had happened – the driver of the small car failed to heed to a yield sign.  Mr. Whirley had pictures he was sure would be requested for by his paper, the drivers, and their insurance companies.  Thankfully, no one was injured badly.  Before the four people spoke too much about whether anyone was right or wrong, the police pulled up – two cars.  They filed a report; the drivers drove away with the small car receiving a citation; Mr. Whirley went back to work to write up an account for the paper; and Paul went to take a shower.

Paul got the job that day around 11:30 AM and did so well for the first two years that he bought himself an expensive digital camera to celebrate his achievements.  He took up photography as a hobby and even took pictures for the paper and various periodicals from time to time.  Ten years later, he was still loving his job and turned down retirement to work at least one more year.

As for the drivers involved in the accident, they had sore necks, yet they were fine within two weeks and ended up attending the same religious congregation consisting of over 650 people.  The story was what it was to Miserly, meaning that she liked it, hoped others would enjoy it, too.  She had finished it and enjoyed the idea of the worried man finding a job and doing well – he got to play with a nice new camera, too.

She decided it was short and sweet, good enough to submit to the literary publication she was reading through that morning.  She revised her fast-written prose as the 70’s style orange chair creaked as she leaned back in it, knowing she had the better part of twelve entire minutes to finish the revision before having to ask for an hour extension from the librarian.  No one ever enjoyed asking for an extension.  Such an ordeal was the very inspiration for coming back on another day – without question.

Miserly quickly revised her story, re-writing one or two sentences completely, to promote better concision and more proper diction, according to what just had to be more accurate.  She was rather impressed with the story and had one minute left.  Looking up, she saw an older woman, a library attendant, coming her way.  The worker could have been walking in slow motion.  From her attentive reading, Miserly could not see the woman very clearly.

A young man with the semblance of an intelligibly cute elf was walking and reading at the same time – in a library.  Confused, Miserly wondered if she was dreaming.  She was not, however, and just as the librarian was about to speak in a loud manner toward Miserly, the young man walked right into the woman, startling them both.

“Pardon me, ma’am,” said the young man, “I am so very sorry.”  The older woman was ‘ruffled,’ indeed, and Miserly escaped on foot while managing to toss over a wicked grin to the young man.  He gave her a confident nod.  He was cool.  “I will have to submit this story by mail before noon,” thought Miserly, “Hopefully, the magazine will love it.  I have so much to get done.”

She made it out of the library.  She ran into the young man again later in life and they became close companions, both given to the art of literary composition.  The periodical helped Miserly extend and revise her story for a small fee; it was published and praised; and her audience waited for her every word.

The Pachyderm, The Strong… Hamice

The Pachyderm, The Strong… Hamice

Thane woke up, checked his watch.  Accidentally pressing the blue light button, it was showing the time to be 4:30 AM.  Having gone to bed around 9 PM on allergy medicine and the notion of a silent house, he drank some cold coffee and woke up.

His father was gone for the weekend; Thane lived on a farm.  Other farms were around; he was assigned a mission.  His goal?  To – at all cost – get his father’s new piglet to his uncle’s place.  “The trip will not be too bad,” thought Thane, “I will drive Hamice over there, get some gas from Uncle Peter, drive back, and I will still have the afternoon to enjoy alone.”

Thane’s truck was a bad, awesome machine.  He and his father re-furbished a 1985 full-sized grey Chevy v-6 with stock wheels and mud-grip tires.  The rear tires were larger than the tires on the front; Thane was proud of his farm ride.  His truck was “The Thing”.  It only got him so far, though.

Thane made it out of bed and got the small pig named Hamice and drove his truck down his father’s farm drive.  At the end of their dirt road driveway, “The Thing” died.  “Damn it,” thought Thane, “Today was going to be a nice, easy day.”  Hamice, strapped in and peering out of the front windshield looked over to Thane as if it was his fault
“The Thing” could not go any more.  Thane knew a thing or two about his truck.  He checked the gas indicator.  It was below empty.

Thane got out of his truck as the sun was coming up.  He looked underneath the frame to check the fuel line he and his father just installed a few days ago.  The line had loosened; the stench of gas was clearly evident; and the truck was no longer a possible option.  “Damn,” thought Thane, again.  He went back to check on the small pig, as if terrible harm and malevolent terror had somehow manifested its presence and endangered the newborn pachyderm from nowhere and without sound.  Hamice was fine – he looked to Thane and to the floorboard, seeming to know “The Thing” was no longer a thing.  Not anymore.

Thane got Hamice and a water bottle and locked up “The Thing”.  “Only four farms away,” thought Thane, “We can make it.”  Hamice loved Thane.  Thane usually fed him with a baby bottle of warm buttermilk, and Hamice was sure to grow up to be a prized show-pig for the fair.  Thane gave Hamice a small hug, and the piglet fell asleep.

Thane was 19 and had not really gone this entire way on foot, before.  He knew the terrain pretty well, however.  There were four farms he would have to cross, each differing from the others.  The first farm had its unique challenge – it was vast but mostly barren.  Jogging, Thane and Hamice made it halfway across the farm before slowing to a walk to retain energy.  “This farm is pathetic,” said Thane to Hamice, who may have agreed.  It was, too.  The entire twenty some-odd acre farm was mostly dirt with strange wild half-dead grass.  The owners kept one horse, a dog, and a cat, living.  They were old, and the farmer would have probably shot at Thane and Hamice, if he could see.

So, Thane jogged discretely past the old farm-house without being noticed by the old dog and continued jogging until he got to their old barbed wire fence.  Then, they walked for a while.  The second farm was nicer and smaller.  The sun was up, it was about 7 AM.

Even Hamice seemed to like this farm.  It was about 8 acres.  The land was mostly yard-grass with front and back flowerbeds, and four dogwood trees.  The owners of the farm were married with no children.  The man held a job at a warehouse unloading and loading 18-wheelers; the woman was a nurse.  “Every farm along the way must have its trickyness, its main obstacles,” thought Thane.  Hamice, a brilliant piglet, had to be thinking as they neared the view of the nice and more modern house of the second farm.

“I think you are right,” thought Thane, as he looked to the house and considered the adorable small pig in his arms.  “If we get right up on the house as we pass it, we have more of a chance of avoiding their view, in case they are awake,” thought Thane.  He was right.  They ran up to the nice three-bedroom house, ducked down to cross behind it, and jogged all the way to the next fence with nothing so much to protect them from view of the house than a seemingly randomly positioned dogwood tree.  Hamice and Thane both noticed the tree’s white blooming flowers as they passed it.  It was nice.  They went unseen.

Thane jumped the fence, jogged a few yards, and sat down on a large, half-buried rock.  He sat Hamice down on the ground, safely.  The small pig decided to pee.  This was the big farm.  Thane looked out upon it.  It was certainly a cut-through to get to his uncles.  It was vast with rolling waves of wheat, swaying in the early morning breeze.  This farm was run by a family who had maintained it for over four generations.  It was over 400 acres and farmed mostly wheat, maintained over forty farm animals and contained a large farm-house three families lived in.  They were hardworking Americans and sure to be awake.  The less time Thane took crossing this farm, the better his chances of crossing the next one.

Thane drank his water bottle and picked Hamice up to carry on.  He jogged into the wheat field and kept a good pace for some time; he would need to.  He did, and as time went by, Thane and Hamice made it to the middle of the huge field.  The Inhabitants of this farm were actually awake.  The wheat was tall, however, and it would not be too easy to spot Thane’s trek through their property.  Knowing his neighbors anyway, it should not have been too big of a deal to be on their land.  After all, it was not like he and his buddies were sitting around a fire and drinking beer – he was on an important mission.

Big farms use big tractors and require hard work.  This one did, anyway.  A big tractor happened to be in the field.  Thane decided he would just keep running with his pig, and whoever was on the tractor could talk with him at a different time.  It looked as though the tractor was keeping to a certain route, anyway, so he might not even be noticed by the driver.  He jogged and jogged – the tractor was upon him.  It stopped.  Its engine stayed running.  “I say, young’n,” hollered the driver, a man in his late fifties, “Where are you going with that little pig?”

“I am very sorry, sir” said Thane, trying to catch his breath and doing so, “My truck broke down and I have to get this pig to my uncle.”  “Hey,” said the farmer, “You are Chuck Dowty’s boy, eh?”  “Yes sir,” said Thane, “I am sorry my truck broke down.  I should be able to get a ride back.”  “You carry on as you wish,” said the farmer, and Thane could not possibly guess what was next.  “One thing, though,” said the rough old man, “You bring my step daughter to prom this year, dating a girl a year and a half younger than you, you better treat her right.”  “You got it,” said Thane, looking at Hamice who seemed to be relieved, “I will get her a dozen white roses if she lets me bring her.”

The old man gave a decent look to the lad with the pig and put his tractor into gear.  “Carry on boy,” said the man, and Thane jogged away.  After about half an hour, he made it to a fence.  It was the fourth and final farm before he was to arrive at his uncle’s abode.  As Thane scaled the old barbed wire fence, he slipped, dropped Hamice, and fell.

Agile as Thane was, he still had fallen flat onto his lower back.  He was tired and partially discouraged and unhappy with falling into muddy ground.  Hamice had a wonderful time running in circles and rolling around in the mud.  Thane stood and stretched and took off his over-shirt to clean the pig.  The sun was up and it was not too cold.  This farm was a neat one.  It was old.  A very old plum orchard, only the front 3/4 of the farm was still maintained properly for markets.  The back part of it contained huge over-grown plum trees and a swampy bottom.

The old trees were connected with old mosses and massive banana spider webs.  Scary and huge, the pink and yellow spiders seemed to stay stationary in the epicenter of their webs about twelve feet above Thane and Hamice.  The webs’ holdings of morning dew sparkled and glistened as shining crystals in the shadows above Thane and Hamice, as they trudged through ten acres of old, stinky mud.  The largest of the plum trees were over a hundred years old, and Thane was glad to find the next fence when he came to it.  The farmers of the plum orchard were nice people, Thane would speak with them some other time.  He safely scaled the fence.

Safely on his uncles’ property, Thane still had Hamice in his arms.  They jogged to the front door and knocked.  His uncle gladly let them in, and his nieces and nephews took Hamice to give him a bath.  Thane’s aunt cooked a huge four-egg omelette for him with cheddar cheese, salsa, biscuits, orange juice, a glass of milk.  The sun was up directly above them at noon.  After such a nice breakfast at lunchtime, Thane offered to help his uncle with some chores.  His uncle let him move a pile of firewood, and drove Thane back home.

The people in the immediate family of Thane’s uncle were all happy to receive their new pig, Hamice, and Thane thanked his uncle for the ride, explaining how his fuel line had malfunctioned before daylight, somehow.  His uncle was happy to have Hamice as a new member of his family.  Exhausted, Thane took a nap that afternoon, and they all lived happily ever after.

 

Fiction Parable, no. 1

Parablic Prologue

Despite our ability to tell a great campfire story or write one down, there are always those authors who amaze us with what we learn to recognize.  My own definitions of what constitute a great story are very broad and easy.  A good story is a good story.  I cannot simply resist the comparison, however, of something that was written by an author well-learned in the “serious” study of literary technique, to a common story written down.  We as humans can consider reading fiction to be a great and healthy way to ease our minds, to break away, even if temporarily, from the ferocious and deadly things we sometimes call real life.

Just a few days ago, I got a new book on writing short stories.  I have read many.  This one impressed me, though; it was due to a parable that satisfied classic definitions of what techniques must be used to qualify a story as an acceptable literary composition, a draft any teacher, professor, or common reader would enjoy and be satisfied with.  The most popular techniques necessary for a great story are plot (a series of events leading to a conclusion), symbol (an object that carries meaning or indication), characters, scene, time (events carry on and pass time).  I always include a climax as a requirement, or leave the notion out of a story on purpose.  These essential elements of a story formulate a tale’s theme.  The book that I plan on reading, after I do a few more reviews (they take me weeks) is titled, “The Short Story and the Reader,” by T. S. Kane and L. J. Peters (both Oxford University English professors).  Its ISBN: 0-19-501960-1.  This parable is meant to be a praise of the first page.

So, without further ado or any comments related to Aesop, I will present to you an exciting and inspirational parable manufactured with close to no thought.  Its requirements?  To satisfy the elements mentioned above.

The Train Cave

During their time away from work, the two men decided to go outdoors.  Dunne and Gravin sat atop what they thought would be a rather exciting place to describe their surroundings on paper by writing – the cave of a train.  After hiking for quite some time that morning, they found the cave.

“Do you think we are on time?” asked Dunne.  “Sure,” said Gravin, “We have to be a little early.”  He checked his hand-drawn map given to him by a student he knew.  She said the cave was easier to find in the daylight.  The sun was bright, the breeze gentle and nice.  Both men produced their writing pads and a pen immediately; the train would be there any minute.

“Only in an instance can we describe this falloque monster,” said Dunne.  “I may just draw it” said Gravin.  “That would be your most profitable contribution.  It is going to come around that bend, and go right beneath us into the dark cave below,” said Dunne – the constant authority of all things known.

The two crazed persons ready, they felt the ground shaking.  A horn “Chew-chewed,” and they heard the engine of a locomotive well on its way.  Eyes focused dead on the turn below a hill in the tracks not too far away, the men were ready to write, to scribe and describe.  The amazing old-timey passenger train roared right out of the cave at an enormous speed with great vibration.

“I guess we will write it the other way!” exclaimed Dunne in the wind of the noise.  “Duly noted Doc,” said Gravin, “Duly noted!”

♦♦

A Review I Wrote for Michael Milton

Upon reading “Short… “, I was able to re-think what I thought about in regards to writing stories. I have my own way of writing them; it did not change; and this is a wonderful book to read, however. I think it would be worth anyone’s time to share in Milton’s tale of his bath-house story. He discusses writing advice and displays his choices.

The story he writes about takes place in China and utilizes a main character effectively. As we read the story three different times, we see how amazing and real some great ideas can be, how they can come to life. Milton discusses techniques of revision, gives us examples of what his peers had to say about his writing. A great idea for a story to begin with, it is impressive to see how the story evolves into its amazing final draft. It is about the father of a Chinese rock drummer – it almost seems to be a factional account. Broken and torn, the Chinese father and his wife seek a brighter future.

This book is not a grammar or style book. It does not tell us how to construct a story with a specific method. It does cover various techniques, however, and shows us what works best for audiences from time to time and what will not. It would be best to write out a story and then read this book. It is more for inspiration and consideration of a certain piece of work; it is great for someone who is new to creative writing, fun for consideration to those of us who constantly rehash classic literary devices. I like the story, itself, because it uses a protagonist and concludes nicely. The final draft is well-done; he includes links for writing properly and inspiration, too.

Many of the links in the end of the book are still up to date; Milton is on the web. I sent him a compliment on tweeter, earlier, to: @miltonmichael.

I took notes as I read the book. Milton certainly has a natural gift for writing, as seen in his first draft. The story includes the use of a protagonist well, does not have a specific climax. The story did not really need one, as it did not need too much rising action, falling action, or foreshadowing. This is because it was a nice story, and its conclusion was nice. An in-depth denouement is not always necessary for every story, the father’s problems were solved. It was nice and pleasing to have a happy ending. A link to suggested writing resources via Michael Milton is here.

Milton encourages writers to review others’ works and allow others to criticize theirs, too. He uses a cat as a symbol, it is a good part of his story (I agree). Could the cat have been a symbol of luck in regards to the father finding his son? We do not know, at least the main character had the opportunity to seek a happy future. Break downs of his story and explanations were nice, as well as thinking about the line-by-lines (lbls); he does not tell us how he created the characters, scene, main idea of the story, early on.

Commentary on the second draft was fun to read; it reminded me of an intriguing web forum. Critics point out aspects of his story that we would not have noticed, otherwise, necessarily. Some of the criticism may have been more or less opinion-based, however we as writers should never forget the power of a sentence or paragraph or composition that is written properly. Those dreaded messages in red ink that say impossible commands such as, “Re-word” or, “Improper word choice” are not always there when we write on our own. “Showing” us the story with dialogue rather than narrating incidences, for instance, is not always easy to remember to do. We write out the story. It is done. How we choose to present our final draft defines our unique voice. The better we write, the more our reading audience will appreciate the voice we empower.

The final draft was impressive, indeed. All good stories should be published, they say, and how nice is it to see one revised to perfection? Very nice, indeed. Milton goes through a section on tips and tricks; the section makes the book worth reading. The story alone was fine, too. He does mention books on grammar, plotting, character, and style – they are good books. He also includes a resources link on his website, an invaluable path for writing better/well. He mentions his participation in plays, play-write discussions and acting, and how these notions better help us as writers develop our characters/their roles.

In conclusion, the book is a great inspiration for those of us learning to write better. Milton’s idea to present to us a broken down Chinese father who finds his rock-n-roll son after seeing a cat in the rain was great. He used a protagonist properly in a great story, explained to us how well he revised it and what made the story so phenomenal. His concluding thoughts and resources were both inspirational and will come in handy for anyone who decides to use them. I encourage anyone considering writing a story again for the “first time” to read this book; thank you, Michael Milton, for sharing with us your various methods of mayhem. Awesome job.

The Van Man

One time, there was a man who drove a van.  In this van he hauled drums.  He played many gigs.  Times good and bad, the best were hardly meek.

His name?  Mark Gibson.  A common name, people thought it was cool that his last name was on a lot of guitars.  Mark followed around with lots of different people and bands over the years.  Before he was a drummer, he worked various jobs and did not finish college.  He made up his mind.  He thought, “I am a man.  I make decisions, and I like to do things.”  So, that is what he did.  He found people who could sing and play the guitar, and he played the drums for their various bands.

Mark stayed with one band for four whole years, and decided to let them go.  His reasoning was that the others in the band were pretty tight; they knew at least four people who would greatly appreciate being able to play the drums with them.  Hence, he explained things to these guys, and left them.  Their name was “The Flaming Lizards,” and they did rock pretty hard, according to their fans.

Mark decided to travel.  Most of his gigs were in the southern part of Arizona, where bands are known prosper.  He had some funds saved, howbeit, and decided to travel to Hollywood California.  To meet people.

Everything was planned out nicely; he had his van gassed up all of the way, an extra tank, his: drums, clothes, money, personal belongings, goals.  Mark was set, and he head out.  He drove and drove down the open, peaceful highway.  The scenery was breathtaking, the air pure, the temperature even surprisingly acceptable.  He nearly fell asleep at the wheel, kept himself awake with cheep cola.

Something subtle occurred, though; his engine gurgled.  The man could claim many a night in his well-kept and fine tuned van with a v-6.  He knew that his engine, should not, gurgle.  He was in a good mood and happy.  He thought, “That was just a ‘gurgle,’ I will check the gas, maybe let Betsy here cool off for a moment before a good long haul.”

As he glanced down to the gas meter, it was on empty.  He had driven just long enough to be way out in the middle of nowhere.  “How can this be?” he wondered.  He pulled over to figure this out and turned off the ignition.  “My tank should not even have 10% of its gas gone, now,” he thought, and he gave his beloved Betsy a nonchalant, common-knowledge, physical visual inspection.

As soon as Mark got out of his van, with no traffic in sight, he smelled something he just did not want to smell at the time -gas.  He checked to see if he forgot his gas cap.  It was there.  Where was the smell coming from?  He looked underneath the van; found a disconnected fuel line; and reasoned that the line had not been loosened from foul play.  The connection seal was rusted and worn.  “Connection seal,” thought Mark, and thought, “This is not too big of a deal, I have my 5 gallon tank.  I will fill her up and carry on.”

He opened the back doors of Betsy and saw his beloved, covered drum set.  “What a vehicle he thought,” as he reached for his gas tank.  It was not there.  Mark distinctly remembered filling it up to go in and pay for the gas, did not recall putting it in the van.  “What a start,” thought Mark.  He crawled in his van, locked its doors, rolled down a window, said a small prayer, and took a nap.

Mark woke in the middle of the afternoon, his van baked over like a late afternoon brick oven in a sixty year old pizza parlor well established in some downtown Italian district of an historic metropolis, as he left his windows up.  The sounds of traffic going by were of seeming familiarity – he was sure to be out of this fix, soon.

He got up and escaped the confines of his oven-house, and leaned up against Betsy to begin to ask for help.  Sure enough, after four vehicles blew past him rapidly, a truck pulled over.  It was an older farmer and his adopted daughter was with him.  She was nineteen, shapely, precariously attractive.  “Where you headed?” asked the man, “Problems?”

“I am out of gas,” said Mark to Mr. Summersby, “My fuel line fell out.”  “We will see what we can do,” said the farmer, as his daughter was happy to see the drummer-man and said nothing.  Mr. Summersby ran the farm his father ran.  He and his wife adopted a young girl 17 years ago.  She was born in the United States.  Her parents were there illegally from Mexico, were taken back.  Her name?  Isabelle.

Mark saw Isabelle; she was pretty.  Her long flowing hair black, her smooth skin a natural pale tan, her smile, tempting and gentle… her lip was haired.  Mark did not really know what to think of this.  She was pretty and well-endowed, no doubt, but she seemed partially manly.  Not forgetting what was going on he said, “Good friend, my name is Mark, and I am headed to California as a percussionist.”  “I think I have enough gas here in my spare tank to get you to the next station.  You can call me Mr. Summersby.”

Mr. Summersby put gas in the van after Mark fixed the fuel line.  The drummer followed the farmer to the nearest gas station.  Mark offered the farmer money, and the farmer said it was not necessary, to have a safe trip.  “But Daddy,” said Isabelle, “Cannot he come and have dinner on the way?”  Mark was sure hungry, still did not know what he really thought about it.  “I suppose he can,” said the farmer, “You said your name was Mark?”  “Yes sir,” said Mark, “I must be headed out, though.”  “Oh sure,” said Mr. Summersby, “You have to be getting on.  You have your drumming waiting for you in California.  Our farm is just up the way, though.  You are more than welcome to come and eat with us, tonight, and to try and travel again in the morning.  My wife can cook.”

“You talked me into it,” said Mark.  He followed the old truck to their farm; Isabelle’s subtle grin stayed the same the whole way.  Upon arrival, Isabelle asked her non-biological father, “So, what do you think Mom is cooking tonight.”  “I think she mentioned fried chicken,” said Mr. Summersby, and they all went inside to clean up.

Mark was a tall and slender man; Mrs. Summersby was delighted to meet him.  They exchanged pleasant conversation and had dinner and conversed, and Isabelle wanted to see Mark’s drum-set before turning in. He showed it to her at dusk and she was amazed.  He explained how he only uses two small drums, a bass, and a symbol, because his rhythm and natural talent was what pleased the crowds -not big and costly extravagant drum-sets that would be harder to travel with.  He sold a larger set of drums to someone for a good price a few years back.  She was impressed, gave the man a hug, and went off to tidy up for bedtime.

Mr. Summersby showed Mark to the barn.  “We have plenty of room inside,” said Mr. Summersby, “Out here you will probably like it nicer.”  The farmer gave the drummer a bunch of blankets and a pillow.  “The dinner was great, and I thank you for the bedding,” said Mark.  He would have not minded staying in his van on the road, really, but the fried chicken dinner was great, and he did appreciate the bedding.  The farmer and the drummer conversed for quite some time about the farm, its history, and Mr. Summersby’s thoughts on its future.  Things would be modest.  Things would be fine.

As he had taken a nap earlier, Mark made his bed and stayed up gazing to the stars from a barn window.  The night was crisp; the air was clear; and the drummer dozed off.  A creek popped in the night.  Mark awoke without opening his eyes or changing his breathing.  He eased a squint from one eye in the direction of the barn door.  He saw it opening, entirely on its own.

A figure walked through it quietly and closed the door quickly and with no noise.  He could see her.  It was only Isabelle.  She walked carefully toward the drummer and into the light of his small window.  “I wanted to come see you,” she said.  “Your dad is going to come out here, and he will kill us,” said Mark, thinking.  “No he will not,” said Isabelle, “He and Ma are off sleeping soundly.  They will not wake up. I just wanted to talk.”  “Sure you do,” said Mark, as Isabelle lit a small candle and put it besides them.  He sat up, and she sat down by him.  He noticed that she had not removed the hair from her lip, that her nightgown was stunning with its soft laces, albeit, a probable form of costly Asian silk, its small decorative lace-flowers resembling cherry tree blossoms.

The two talked and talked about her school and plans and life and his career and all for some time.  She leaned in to try to kiss him.  He backed away, thinking she might be like a man.  Of course, he knew better.  It would not be proper ethically to let one thing lead to another, not with this young girl on someone else’s farm.  “I am sorry,” said Mark, “You are very pretty, I just do not think it would be okay for us to do anything physically.”

She put her hand on his work-hardened shoulder and said, “Listen.  I plan to live alone for most of my life.  My career is not going to involve mindless boyfriends – I am going after my own bacon.  We only live once, and I want to feel your body in mine.”

The drummer just did not know what to think about all of this.  This pretty girl and her hairy mustache – it was awkward.  She wanted it; he knew he did, too; and, as Mark looked into her eyes, he, again, saw the frail hairs of her upper lip.  That was his dilemma.  “If I wanted to get with something manly, I could just wait until California,” thought Mark, thinking, “I prefer women, do not understand being with something besides them.”

Nevertheless, the two gave into temptation.  It was her first time.  They embraced each other and made passionate love together, she was strong and got what she wanted.  The two slept like a rock.  They woke up before dawn; she wrote down her address so he could contact her.  Mark promised he would, said to keep in touch, his new band would be traveling.  He planned to send her a post card from California, gave her a twenty for some extra lunch money or whatever.  She was happy.  Isabelle kissed him on the cheek and snuck back inside to crawl into bed before her parents awoke.  They were fast asleep.  The sun’s morning glow was coming before it over the horizon.

Mark was ready to head out.  He put all of the bedding on the back porch and checked out his van.  It was fine; his fuel line was secure and fine.  As he was going, he hollered to Mr. Summersby’s window.  “I guess I am heading out,” said Mark.  “Be safe and do not be a stranger now,” said both the farmer and his wife.  “Okay,” said the drummer, “We thank you now.”  That was all they said, and he made it to the van and drove away.

Mark drove all the way to California; sent Isabelle a postcard with a horse on it; met some guitarists and played often gigs with large crowds; and they all rocked on.

Francis’s Party

Franciss Party

“You going to Francis’s party?” asked Frince, as the four-inch tall Christmas ornament elf shook his partner in crime,  Mince, a little.  “Am I alive?”  asked Mince, as he climbed to his feet.  Silver, gold, blue, green and red glitter shimmered from the cracks of light seeping into their ornament box as it fell in the nostalgic air of the small fellow waking.

It was Christmas Eve, once again.  It was duty time.  Historically, in this house, Frince and Mince came to life on the 24th of December, at midnight.  The woman of the house and her husband always erected a Christmas tree and decorated it with ornaments and lights of varied hue to shine in the late dark cold night.  The woman, three years in a row, now, decided to go with a “theme” for the tree.  While stunning to those who saw these Christmas trees, the older ornaments of past tradition were usually mostly left in their decorative, glittered and dusty, ornament box.  This year she titled her Christmas tree’s theme “The Ice of Winter”, and their tree was adorned with mostly store-bought silver ornaments and blue and dark-blue lights and metallic silver stringed strands.

Frince and Mince made their way to see the tree; both found it to be baffling.  “Back to business.”  “Due course.”  They scurried to the shadows of a near sofa and discussed hunting options.  The two elves were connected magically.  It was unnecessary for them to speak aloud, many times, because they shared natural extrasensory perception.  They could hear each other think with minimal effort.  This kept them safe from their one known danger other than living and walking-while-awake humans, their big fat lazy old nocturnal cat.

Their duty? To find the mouse, Streak.  They caught Streak, one year, eating cookies left out for Santa, and the cat caught and ate the mouse right in front of the elves.  How did the elves see the mouse again?  Streak came back into physical form a few days later, as the elves lay down to rest for another 362 days.  They usually only come to life once a year.  Why were they on a hunt for Streak?  For one, to prevent confusion.  If Streak was to eat more cookies, it could upset the woman.  If the cat was to eat the mouse, it could mean another costly trip to the vet.  The mouse was sure to come to life anyway for most of the year.  The elves commonly only lived three magical days, themselves.  So, it was up to them to find this mouse, and that is what they sought to do.

“I seen him.”  “No you did not, you are still waking.”  “We will see.”  Mince thought he saw the mouse streak around a corner to his normal creviceway hideout in the corner of a back room.  The two elves, sure the humans were asleep, ran to the opening in the corner.  The mouse was, as guessed, nowhere to be found.  “If not be him here, as you were accurate, why not frequent the cookies?”  “I want this to be quick and easy, this year.  I think your idea is supreme.”

The two elves traversed the normal shadows of the house to finally find a plate of cookies on a small book-table with a moodlamp lit on dim.  “That is not a Christmas tree.” “You are correct, Mr. Natural Eggnog.  It is still stunning, though.”  The two elves shared a short-lived moment together appreciating the aesthetic value of the green and red sugar cookies and white and brown fudge cubes on the large crystal platter with shimmering golden trim.

Then, as if they were not even visible, as if no small cookie crumb could be thrown to them from the short table, Streak climbed unknowingly onto the high-class platter.  Frince and Mince both saw the small mouse and made their way to the table.  The tiny creature was exceptionally fast and would be nearly impossible to catch if the two elves were to mess this chance up.  They positioned themselves behind a large mug of warm milk, as Streak was sure to extract one good crushed nut from a large chunk of fudge and scurry off to some place of safety as soon as possible.

Frince noticed that the small scoundrel was not even paying attention.  The mouse removed a large chunk of a walnut, and Frince motioned to Mince.  Mince leaped a good four steps from the mouse and was on him, had him behind the ears by the neck.  The tiny creature might have actually got away, however Frince was just behind Mince and hoisted the mouse into the air by his short hind legs.  “We have him!” thought Frince, almost loud enough to wake the woman.  “That we do” thought Mince, quietly enough to near the man into a supposed year-long length of slumber.

The happy elves held onto the small mouse and bounced and danced to the fire.  A small faggot was only burned on one end.  Mince held the mouse to the log and Frince went and found a small thread of sorts to tie the mouse down.  Upon his return, he and Mince tied down the mouse, and Mince drew his “long-sword” – the four-inch tall elve’s ritualistic version of a Katana.  Frince almost fell asleep – it was almost too easy, this year.

Just then, however, both elves saw the cat.  The old, overweight feline monster was creeping up to them, one paw per inch, one noiseless step at a time.  He was spotted, able to pounce, howbeit, at any time.  Mince near shaded himself a new hue of white and glanced to Frince for some attempt of request for authority.  Frince looked to the cat, calculated their possible escape, and said, “Take him.”  Mince quickly came down upon the small mouse, decapitating him, and the cat leaped into the air.

Both elves jumped away from the slain mouse to escape the deadly cat.  The cat caught Frince, Mince stayed within dangerous reach, moving.  Soon to bite the head off the magical little elf, the cat looked to Mince to see if there was any last reason for not pursuing his natural wishes.  Mince had to think quick, his sword would do him no good; he remembered the warm buttermilk by the cookies.  Mince aimed his sword in that direction and the cat knew there was warm milk over there.  The large fluffy animal lifted his paw off the terrified elf and strolled toward the buttermilk.  Halfway to the moodlamp, the cat lay on his side and slept.  The two elves were exhausted, too, and sat for a moment.

Their annual deed was done.  They walked to the Christmas tree and watched the fading lights glow bright blue and dim to darkness repeatedly, decided to turn in.  They made their way up the stairway-ladder to their ornate ornament box to conclude the Christmas night.  As Frince was closing their lid for slumber, he noticed a large, shiny black boot make the chimney floor’s ashes cloud into its surrounding air.

On Writing, Topic 001 – A Method of Crafting an Effective Story

On Writing (“Francis’s Party”),

Topic 001 – A Method of Crafting an Effective Short Story

Introduction

“On Writing” is a mini-blog, currently in the form of a quick and easy post, within my larger small blog for fiction creation.  It is meant for those who would enjoy discussing ideas such as creative writing, literary devices, and publishing.  If you have any thoughts, commentary, suggestions, or other type of feedback, I will more than welcome your comments. I will research your questions and lessons, and usually approve them for others to learn and benefit from.  Please enjoy what I have to present to you; I welcome inspiration as well as lessons on creating intriguing fiction.  Thank you for your time; again, enjoy.

A Method of Crafting an Effective Short Story

Classical methods of creating a short story are constantly rehashed in what we read.  A short story, by its very definition, is a story of about 2000 words.  With at least 500 words, but not usually over 9000, many a synopsis is good enough for the common reader to enjoy before bedtime.  And who are we trying to impress?  Ourselves.  Our audience.  The more intelligible our audience and the more impressed they are with our work, the more we have to be proud of.

Without having ever written it down, verbatim, I do have my own method of writing down a decent story.  I will share my easiest technique with you, will most probably be part of the crowd that refers to the post before crafting a new story.

First, I think about what actually happens in the story, or what could.  I also compare a good notion with many other ideas; I give them the attention I can to compare these ideas.  I think of journalists, how they document real life – what people pay to know about besides the weather and photos entities such as the Associated Press may compensate for.  What of setting?  What of characters, beings, and occurrences?  Am I thinking of a love story?  What is my reason for the story?  Is it for a competition, a certain genre?  Is it to remember a fond memory of childhood or some factional psychological venting?  Usually, I like a good bedtime-story for any age, unless I want some action more suitable for adult readers.  I seek to edit and revise my stories for quality, as if any one of them were to be submitted to the most ruthless of editors or the most competitive of large-volume competitions.

I will explain my technique, as I design a new story, even if it is not my very next one to author.  Why let the word “series” come into place here?  Because, once we setup some dialogue, a setting, original characters, incidences and a conclusion, we can use the same ideas for new stories over and over.  Once we have a good setting and characters, we can use the same building blocks over and over for many exciting stories.

Let us make a first and original story, though, for now.  We will choose a setting, some main characters, come up with the dialogue as needed, and even begin the story with dialogue, as an audience-catching literary device.  One story I never wrote had to do with Christmas and the name Francis.  It is alluded to in a story in “A Collection of Tales”, my first book.  I find it to be a quick and easy idea to give examples to classically defined devices.  If you read this entire post, it should, at the minimum, be a fun reminder for any storycrafter’s technique.  I was going to leave personification out of this lesson, however the brilliant hues of Christmas lights and little elves in my mind just seemed like too much fun to pass up.  What were we going to endure for this reminder, anyway?  A conversation between two people waiting for a bus ride with a camera?  Two women having tea only to find their waiter faints at their table in the deadest, coldest time of winter?  No, no; we are going with elves and can love each other and our art in the process.

We will not actually start the story, just yet; we will plan it out, however.  I suppose I will go ahead and type it up, too.  We, as I said, will start the story with dialogue.  This involves the two main characters, a victim, an outstanding party, and shadow characters.  In my book, there is a story about a young university student who analyzes water.  It is titled “Forrest Hollow” and includes paranormal experiences in the woods.  Before his travels, the main character reads a short story titled, “Francis’s Party”, because his name happened to be Francis and he came across it.  I had yet to have composed the draft; we will do that within this post.  I am happy to finally post to On Writing; the closest idea I ever had to starting a second blog.  I love the study of literary devices.  This post, alone, should suffice for our collective needs, for now.

“Francis’s Party” is set up to be a form of personification and some form of an approach to horror.  Mostly like a cartoon, it attempts to use reality with characters that are fantastical beings.  Is the idea completely original?  Very close.  It was inspired.  While watching the Cartoon Network on New Years Eve of 1999, I saw the “Millunium” – a ten-hour showing of the most popular Warner Brother’s cartoons during the last 100 years.  I was completely wired and enjoyed every cartoon.  Between the old familiar classics, I saw these two Christmas ornaments speaking.  They were elves who could talk with each other.  One always asked, “You going to Francis’s Party?”  That was close to all that occurred before the next show.  So, we can now manufacture what these two elves were really up too – killing a mouse annually.

That is our premise of the story we are happily crafting.  Once a year on Christmas Eve, two characters with original names carry on their tradition, skillfully.  We will begin the story with one elf  waking the other.  This means we start with dialogue.  Then they seek and attempt to find the mouse.   A large cat creates a confusing situation, or conflict, because the old cat had never been aware of the elves’ wrongdoings, before.  The shadow characters will remain sleeping; the presents have all been wrapped and the night will be dark and late.  A series could easily be made of the story, because it involves an annual event, can re-occur much like a Road-Runner cartoon’s basic plot premise.

Before I type the story, I must include one last important notion.  My way of writing a story is easy.  Choose a good idea.  Try to remember the main characters, what and where things happen, and write out the story.  Make sure things that happen lead up to a main occurrence and then conclude with some form of a summary.  This last part is not always necessary.  A technique, of its own device, is to conclude completely with the main occurrence.  I do not think we will incorporate that device, this time, however.  Once you have written down or typed up the story, go back and revise it for diction and concision.  This involves using carefully selected words for proper meanings while not writing in a verbose or wordy manner.  While typos may cause you to do such a thing anyway, there are two more reasons.  Peruse the first draft for once for typos and again for enjoyment; search for the use of purposely used devices and re-write the sentences as necessary; and re-write sentences for proper style in the world of masterful prose.  Attempt including an emphatic construction somewhere, if at all seemingly possible.

Here are some questions to ask once you are done with your first draft and are ready to re-write it with competent intention.  Where is your climax?  What happened, series of events wise, to lead to it?  What can you include around a fourth of the way into the story for foreshadowing?  What devices are important to you, anyway, and will it change the story for the better or worse to include classic methods such as the utilization of symbols?  If you have great symbols and reasons for using them and the time to do it well, do it.  That is my advice.  Symbols are great for teachers and people wanting to tell a story having little to do with what an unsuspecting reader may actually infer.  If the reader identifies proper use of symbols without reading commentary of the author on the work, more power to the reader.  I will type our story, and we can discuss some devices able to be used in other stories, afterwards, analyze what we will with our fun Christmas horror cartoon prose narrative.  We can always learn together by your posting comments to this post; please, do.  Remember, classic rules and techniques are great to know; they are not necessary always.  Such is the art-form of a short story, to begin with.  If we do not get back with your commentary, try again every two weeks or so.  We do value commentary.

Francis’s Party

“You going to Francis’s party?” asked Frince, as the four-inch tall Christmas ornament elf shook his partner in crime, (1) Mince a little.  “Am I alive?”  asked Mince, as he jumped to his feet.  Silver, gold, blue, green and red glitter shimmered from the cracks of light seeping into their ornament box as it fell from the small fellow waking.

It was Christmas Eve, once again.  It was duty time.  Historically, in this house, Frince and Mince came to life on the 24th of December, at midnight.  The woman of the house and her husband (2) always erected a Christmas tree and decorated it with ornaments and lights of varied hue to shine in the late dark cold night.  The woman, three years in a row, now, decided to go with a “theme” for the tree.  While stunning to those who saw these Christmas trees, the older ornaments of nostalgic tradition were usually mostly left in their decorative, glittered and dusty, ornament box.  This year she titled her Christmas tree’s theme “The Ice of Winter”, and their tree was adorned with mostly store-bought silver ornaments and blue and dark-blue lights and metallic silver stringed strands.

Frince and Mince made their way to see the tree; both found it to be baffling.  “Back to business.”  “Due course.”  They scurried to the shadows of a near sofa, and discussed hunting options.  The two elves were connected magically.  It was unnecessary for them to speak aloud, many times, because they shared natural extrasensory perception.  They could hear each other think loud and clear.  This kept them safe from their one known danger other than living and walking-while-awake humans, their big fat lazy old cat (3).

Their duty? To find the mouse, Streak.  They caught Streak, one year, eating cookies left out for Santa, and the cat caught and ate the mouse right in front of the elves.  How did the elves see him again?  Streak came back into physical form three days later, as the elves lay down to rest for another 362 days.  They only come to life once a year.  Why were they on a hunt for Streak?  For one, to prevent confusion.  If Streak was to eat more cookies, it could upset the woman.  If the cat was to eat the mouse, it could mean another costly (4) trip to the vet.  As the mouse was sure to come to life anyway for most of the year, the elves commonly only lived three magical days, themselves.  So, it was up to them to find this mouse, and that is what they sought to do.

“I seen him.”  “No you did not, you are still waking.”  “We will see.”  Mince thought he saw the mouse streak around a corner to his normal creviceway hideout in the corner of a back room.  The two elves, sure the humans were asleep, ran to the opening in the corner.  The mouse was, as guessed, nowhere to be found.  “If not be him here, as you were accurate, why not frequent the cookies?”  “I want this to be quick and easy, this year.  I think your idea is supreme.”

The two elves traversed the normal shadows of the house to finally find a plate of cookies on a small book-table with a moodlamp lit on dim.  “That is not a Christmas tree.” “You are correct, Mr. Natural Eggnog.  It is still stunning, though.”  The two elves shared a short-lived moment together appreciating the aesthetic value of the green and red sugar cookies and white and brown fudge cubes on the large crystal platter with shimmering golden trim.

Then, as if they were not even visible, as if no small cookie crumb could be thrown to them from the short table, Streak climbed unknowingly onto the high-class platter.  Frince and Mince both saw the small mouse and made their way to the table.  The tiny creature was exceptionally fast and would be nearly impossible to catch if the two elves were to mess this chance up.  They positioned themselves behind a large mug of warm milk (5), as Streak was sure to extract one good crushed nut from a large chunk of fudge and scurry to some place of safety as soon as possible.

Frince noticed that the small scoundrel was not even paying attention.  The mouse removed a large chunk of a walnut, and Frince motioned to Mince.  Mince leaped a good four steps from the mouse and was on him, had him behind the ears by the neck.  The tiny creature might have actually got away, however Frince was just behind Mince and hoisted the mouse into the air by his short hind legs.  “We have him!” thought Frince, almost loud enough to wake the woman.  “That we do” thought Mince, quietly enough to near the man into a supposed year-long length of slumber.

The happy elves held onto the small mouse and bounced and danced to the fire.  A small faggot was only burned on one end.  Mince held the mouse to the log and Frince went and found a small thread of sorts to tie the mouse down.  Upon his return, he and Mince tied down the mouse, and Mince drew his “long-sword” – the four-inch tall elves’ ritualistic version of a Katana.  Frince almost fell asleep – it was almost too easy, this year.

Just then, however, both elves saw the cat (6).  The old, overweight feline monster was creeping up to them, one paw per inch, one noiseless step at a time.  He was spotted, able to pounce, howbeit, at any time.  Mince near shaded himself a new hue of white and glanced to Frince for some attempt of request for authority.  Frince looked to the cat, calculated their possible escape, and said “Take him.”  Mince quickly came down upon the small mouse, decapitating him (7), and the cat leaped into the air.

Both elves (8) jumped away from the slain mouse to escape the deadly cat.  The cat caught Frince (9), Mince stayed within dangerous reach, moving.  Soon to bite the head off the magical little elf, the cat looked to Mince to see if there was any last reason for not pursuing his natural wishes.  Mince had to think quick, his sword would do him no good; he remembered the warm buttermilk by the cookies.  Mince aimed his sword in that direction and the cat knew there was warm milk over there.  The large fluffy animal lifted his paw off the terrified elf and strolled toward the buttermilk.  Halfway to the moodlamp, the cat lay on his side and slept.  The two elves were exhausted, too, and sat for a moment (10).

Their annual deed was done (11).  They walked to the Christmas tree and watched the fading lights glow bright blue and dim to darkness repeatedly, decided to turn in.  They made their way up the stairway-latter to their ornate ornament (12) box to conclude the Christmas night.  As Frince was closing their lid for slumber, he noticed a large, shiny black boot (13) make the chimney floor’s ashes cloud into its surrounding air.

So our story’s first draft is complete, and, without a single revision, we can discuss what I like to deem “natural device.”  This is when we can consider the use of device as it occurs within the story without too much actual intention.  I have included dialogue in color to show which elf is speaking or thinking, an idea I received from a fellow blogger with no current blog, maybe (Nonsense-and-Shenanigans on Word Press).

At any rate, I used numbers in parenthesis to denote the attempted use of literary device.  I will include those; define some classic terms; include some words from Wikipedia; and we can engage into what commentary is possible for this mini-blog and a story that I have waited months and months to draft, “Francis’s Party”.

Numbered Device Reference Notes

(1) foreshadowing – the two elves may be up to a treacherous act of some sort with the inclusion of the word “criminal.”

(2) shadow-characters – the intentional use of therciary characters; they exist and do not speak.

(3) character, semi-personification – we intentionally introduce the third of five chars, the cat is nearly personified, does make a decision later in the story.

(4) reference-connection device – “costly” indicates some connection to familial economic reality, a dangerous tool to use in fiction.

(5) symbol – the milk symbolizes life for the cat, freedom for the elf, later on in the story; the idea that beings must do something to gain or consume something to exist can be loosely inferred in symbolic consideration.

(6) conflict and dilemma – the cat represents an antagonistic danger to the objective of the elves, as well as the well-being of the elves.  Everything was fine; at this point, they are in danger.

(7) climax – the climax of the story is when Streak is slain.

(8) narrative hook – we, as readers, are encouraged to continue reading, because action in “up in the air.”  We want to see what happens to the elves; for one small moment, the cat is in the air, and we do not know if the elves will be captured or eaten or both.

(9) protagonistic dilemma – one of the main character’s well-being is put into question, causing us to care for him.

(10) falling action – action is slowed as the characters are no longer in danger and the story’s conclusion is on the way.

(11) comprehensive denouement – a story’s summary of events, how the dilemmas of the characters are resolved, and their resolutions are explained during the story’s falling action is a story’s denouement.  Not explaining much at this point, we at least know the two protagonists had a goal and found their success.

(12) (consonantal) alliteration – useful as poetic device, it is a favorite of mine in the rhythmic world of prose.

(13) symbolic conclusion – we know, indirectly, who is coming down the chimney.  The conclusion leaves us to wonder if the elves heed to a conscious consideration of being good or bad, whether Santa can find them living or not.  It would be largely up to the reader.  One way or the other, it is fun to include a the visual image of a known and favored character without too much of a direct statement.  What, on Earth, would he think of his missing cookie crumb walnut chunk?

 Common Literary Device Terms for use in Short Stories

 plot – the main scheme, plan or story-line of a story, play, or other composition

climax – a decisive moment during ongoing action in a story when plot changes; the most intense point in a story

setting – the surroundings or environment of where action takes place in a story, often briefly described

character development – description of main characteristics of a character, further explanations of a character’s persona, endurance shaping

personification – act of making something human-like that was not, i.e. a talking rock, tree, or animal

summary – explanation of basic incidences in a story, usually towards the end

denouement – post-climax explanation of what happened to the characters, normally including a story’s resolution during its falling action

conflict – opposing force of normal/natural action, many times, when a character is forced to choose

decision – a character’s time of choice or when they are presented with being forced to choose

character – person to be described in a story, being what the story is about

antagonist – main char’s opposing char in a story; adversary

rising action –  events that lead to the climax

falling action/resolution – events occurring after the epiphany (climax) of a story

protagonist – main character in a story

dialogue – speech between characters in a story

scene – realm to be described that characters interact in

transition – literary device that changes from one sequence of events to another, usually by alluding to the change of incidences before they begin to happen

narrative hook – device used by writers to keep readers involved with an ongoing story

description – presenting details about a character, object, event, or scene

symbol – object, word, or concept within a story that represents a secondary idea

visualization – descriptions that can let us, the audience, visualize scene, setting, objects, or occurrences

clandestine visualization – device used to allow an audience to see a character, scene, object, or concept without describing said item/items in words/verbatim

[

The following information was extracted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_story –

More Short Story Terms:

exposition – the introduction of setting, situation and main characters

complication – the event that introduces the conflict

crisis – the decisive moment for the protagonist and his commitment to a course of action

climax – the point of highest interest in terms of the conflict and the point with the most action

resolution – the point when the conflict is resolved

in medias res – when short stories have an exposition beginning in the middle of the action

]

Thank you for enjoying these literary reminders and ideas; remember, I patiently await your every comment. This first draft of “Francis’s Party” was 1173 words long; the entire post currently contains, 3598 words.  🙂

An Artifact

An Artifact

“This class blows,” said Henry.  “Everything blows according to you – blondes blow but you do not dislike them, do you?” replied Ron.  “No, I do not dislike blondes,” admitted Henry.  He was the more intelligent of the two; Ron thought he had to try to know. He was forced to put forth at least a minimal amount of effort, where Henry sometimes did not even begin to need to. Henry, at times, took his various gifts of intelligence for granted. It was no big deal; it was his way of knowing more with less stress.

The class they happened to be early for was an Archaeology class. It was two weeks before spring break on a Friday; their instructor was from India. His hobby was training for half marathons. The professor arrived (finally), and all entered the class room. Professor Rauckbon said:

“For these few weeks I have been giving you various assignments on research and study. We have been the travelers of a digging study program, found small items for documentation and study. I am thinking today will be a more fun and a less arduous approach. I am thinking… today is movie day. It is a day for showing and telling, a surprise fun and easy day for us all. Why did you not know about this showing and telling? Because I am the one doing the showing, as well as the one doing the telling. So sit back and enjoy what we can do with one of our school’s newest projector mechanisms.”

The professor happily turned the lights off with a remote and operated the projector with yet another remote.  He was originally born in India and spoke over seven languages.  His video was an impressive collection of films documenting historical sites in India, both famous and rare.  He displayed archaeological sites rarely mentioned to mainstream media, including a secret grave site for old religious leaders from thousands of years ago.  His interesting story involved a handcrafted artifact.

The artifact was a sacred object of very old Indian religion.  During those times, in that specific region, religion and the afterlife involved mostly the respect of items considered to be holy or magical.  Only a blessed item could be used to cause intentional re-incarnation.  Before known documented history, the region went to war with a neighboring community.  An approximate two to three thousand men on each opposing side engaged in a bloody war.  The death toll of the war numbered in the thousands.  The sole leader of the region containing the burial site was said to have used the artifact in war to take the life of multiple enemies in one current situation, while reviving his deadliest war heroes.

What made the story interesting to the professor was the idea of modern progress and the notion of the artifact’s “new” location.  A very large house of worship had been constructed during modern times; it contained a secret underground structure with catacombs, tombs, and protected structures for hiding national items sacred for historical or religious reasons or both.  Common thieves had robbed the grave site in modern times; the government of India recovered these items and hid them under the more secure modern temple.  Due to economic expansion, a large skyscraper was built on top of the old burial site.

Hard to explain for the professor, he related that, Geologically, the site was an excellent place for the eighty story building because of the prehistoric bedrock below it.  A highly secret, rare organization could still, in theory, access the actual grave site of the war heroes of long ago beneath the skyscraper.  The office building was an approximate 400 yards in perimeter before including any surrounding structures.  It was very big.

The professor went into detail in regards to the magically religious artifact.  It was a small white monkey, hand carved and polished from the tusk of a ceremoniously fattened elephant’s tusk.  It was clothed in melted and cooled 24-carrot decorative gold.  The artifact’s brow sported an uncut diamond; its eyes were identical rubies.  The rubies were said to glow in various ways, showing powers, dangers, and or actions performed through the item.  It was a surprise to the professor that the artifact was used in a war over territory.  He thought the war would have been over the magical artifact, instead.  It was said to have gained its eternal powers via a dark Indian priest – he died too give the precious little monkey its magical powers.

By this time, 80% of the class had fallen asleep, completely.  Ron and Henry were both paying attention, intently, however.  They would be sure to discuss the knew knowledge of an old Indian artifact after class.  They were not the only students paying attention.  Two students in the back row wrote down the names of certain cities; they exchanged looks.  These two guys were not up to anything phenomenaly wonderful, that was for sure.

The class adjourned.  “Those guys were up to something,” said Henry.  “Of course they were,” said Ron, “What on Earth could it have been?”  “They want that artifact,” said Henry.  “I doubt they can get it,” said Ron, “It would be well worth their time, in this lifetime, to try, though.  The item would have to be of great worth.  I would guess that there is the chance that it is actually spiritually enhanced or magical.”  “It would not surprise me,” said Henry, thinking.  “What is on your mind?” asked Ron.  “Spring break,” said Henry, “I bet if they try to go to India, it will be then.”  “India?” asked Ron.  “They are after that monkey,” said Henry, “I am sure of it.”

Days went by and Henry and Ron continued to do well in school.  The artifact was on their minds; they saw and overheard the two other Archaeology students planning their spring break trip to go to India in the front study area of their school’s largest library.  The two students planning had no suspicion of Ron and Henry’s thought.  Ron and Henry followed the two other students to a travel agency that evening; they purchased tickets to fly to India as the other two students had.

Mexico…” said Henry.  “I agree,” said Ron, “India will be much more fun than a repeat trip to the infamous Cancun.  I cannot wait.  I am bringing my new digital camera for picture taking.  I cannot wait to see what my fellow bloggers post in consideration of my attempts with the photography of distant lands.”  Ron and Henry would fly on the same airplane, land in a big city in India, stay in the most inexpensive resort hotel there, and track/follow the two students attempting to partake in crime.  That was their plan.

Ron and Henry thought their plan to be a long-shot.  The other two classmates were definitely going to try to take the artifact.  Whether they could even acquire it was more than half of the problem, the rest was stopping them or helping authorities in India catch the terrible college students during spring break.

Many things went as planned.  The two questionable young men flew to India.  So did Ron and Henry, with information on the other two students from the travel agency.  All four rested through one night, Ron and Henry woke up before dawn to see a mind blowing sunrise.  They found and followed the other two.  The two questionable individuals had attained secret information on the modern religious structure.  They assaulted and bound two guards, entered a door with an electronic key/pass-card.  Once in the catacombs, the two had  a small amount of time to find the stone storage structure which contained the ivory monkey.

The two bad-guys had attained a map; they found a large stone box.  They used a nearby pry-tool to open the box; it contained a few skulls of old war heroes, some ancient religious texts, some old jewelry, and an artifact or two.  One of these small items was a little bottle used to preserve a dead-person’s blood sample for religious reasons.  This item frightened one of the thieves, the other one shook him by the shoulder so they could get the monkey and go.  The scared one took the monkey and put it in his small backpack; they ran to escape.

It would not be easy for the two criminals to escape.  They did so, however.  They were chased by government officials and religious leaders.  They made it to a popular part of the large city and were somewhat safe from the authorities there.  They did not escape Ron and Henry, though.  The criminals went to a large shopping mall to safely plan a nonchalant route back to their hotel.  They planned to fly back to the states and sell the artifact for as much as possible.

Ron and Henry found the two in the shopping mall.  The mall was near the criminals’ hotel.  Henry snuck up behind the student with the backpack and opened it.  Ron reached in and grabbed the monkey; they walked away.  The criminals noticed the open backpack.  Where was the artifact? They did not know.  The criminals were in shambles, and they were surrounded by authorities and arrested on counts of violence and improper entry.  No one knew where the artifact was other than Henry and Ron.

The two intelligible college students considered themselves to be the good guys.  They flew back to the states with the spiritual item; they would know what was best for the artifact.  Ron and Henry got the item back to the states safely.  They gazed upon it in Henry’s living room.  He split his rent with four other students.  His housemates thought the monkey was cool; Henry kept it on a mantle.

Summer came and Henry’s housemates had all gone back to where they were from for work-related purposes.  Ron, like Henry, stayed in college over the summer to take more courses.  They had time in the evenings for study.  One night, the artifact came up in conversation.  “It has been sitting on your mantle there for weeks like a 5$ dust collector,” said Ron.  “I have not thought much about it,” said Henry, looking at the monkey.  Its gold was impressive; its eyes were mysterious.  Henry stood and beheld the artifact.  He sat it on a small table in the center of the room.

Ron gazed upon the item, as did Henry.  “I think we can talk with it,” said Ron.  “How?” asked Henry.  “I will try a way,” said Ron.  He gently pet the top of the ivory artifact’s head, and its eyes began to glow.  Henry and Ron both immediately sat back in their seat on a sofa.  They were not too scared.  The two students were rather curious instead.  A spirit floated up out of the monkey.  It was a female elephant.  “Who are you?” asked the elephant.  Henry was speechless.  Ron never really knew what he was talking about, anyway.  He said, “I am Ron, and this is Henry.  We are amazed with your history – we know little about you.”  The nice elephant blushed, slightly, and said, “I have helped many a man in war.  I have helped many a woman in love.  My powers are rare and desired.  I can fulfill untold desires.”  Henry still did not really think he was experiencing anything real.

“We are more interested in what you want,” said Ron after thinking hard and fast with his attention focused on the female elephant spirit.  He figured she would disappear if he lost concentration.  It had happened before with other spiritual conversations.  “If you must know,” replied the elephant, “I want to return to my original tomb.  I was there to protect an old warrior from spiritual malevolency.  I want to go there until certain resolutions from this side are resolved permanently.”  “Then what will you do?” asked Ron.  Henry was still gazing upon the elephant in awe.  “I am not so sure,” said the elephant, “I am not very selfish, resolutions of these sorts can take a great deal of time.  At least we have made progress over there.”

“Amazing,” said Henry.  “You talk after all,” said the elephant, “Thank you for protecting me.”  She was beginning to return to the monkey.  “Wait!” said Ron, “What is your name?”  “Imalia,” whispered the elephant, and she faded away.

“Well that does it,” said Ron, “We have to bring that back to the site under the big skyscraper.”  “Maybe I should just keep it,” said Henry.  “For what?” asked Ron, “The terrible war you have to wake up for in the morning?  Cannot quite re-incarnate your soldiers without a bashful elephant spirit?”  Henry was trying not to laugh.  “What is so funny?” asked Ron.  “Nice belt” said Henry, “Was that on sale?”  Ron looked down to find that he had put on his girlfriend’s belt by accident, earlier.  It was pink with little sparkling plastic gym-stones.  “Very funny,” said Ron, “Mine now, ha ha.”

“We do not have the money to go to India, again,” said Henry, we already had to borrow to get there the first time.”  “What if we borrow again?” suggested Ron, “When we graduate, we can borrow even more.  We will call it ‘Grad School’.”  “Very funny,” said Henry.  “I guess we can figure something out,” said Henry, “We will have to formulate a plan for a trip before fall classes begin.  Well will bring this magical elephant-monkey back to where it wants to be.  We will visit a prehistoric tomb.”  “Awesome,” said Ron, “I cannot wait to take more photos for blogging.”

The two planned it all out and made the trip to the giant skyscraper.  It was their turn, this time, to have to bound a guard.  They put a t-shirt over his head to keep him from being able to see them.  They returned the artifact to its proper location and escaped unscathed.  Once back in the United States, they finished their graduate studies and went to work for large corporate entities.  Ron saved a photo of the artifact being placed beside the old warrior’s bones in India, showed the photo to his old Archaeology professor with a self deleting file.  The professor was amazed.  He could only guess as to whether the photo was actually what it highly resembled.

daily prompt, antique antics