To My Followers, February, 2015

This month is a wonderful one and monumental in so many ways.  This post is a more personal one, it is to keep you from leaving the blog I so love and admire.  I keep this blog up and going for one reason – to celebrate the art of great fiction.  I originally created jcm3blog to share stories with friends/loved ones.  Now, it is what I have to present a story to the world when I simply cannot withhold it.

It may be a while; however, before I cease to quickly write down an idea and leave it; I am helping present a writing contest for Oval.  Proud to do such a thing, we have received many submissions.  Great literature is profound.  It is not always easy to find the time to praise it.  I plan to make time to do such a thing, somehow, anyway.  Thank you for following my blog; I enjoy thinking of writing as a hue of science.  English can be appreciated best by those who have tried to know its entirety.

Most of the preliminary work we have done on Oval and what I do on the web can be seen with the twitter posts below.  If it is quite some time before you see a story I do – for jcm3blog – remember, we will be here for as long as possible.  I love to write.  Creating great fiction is a passionate pursuit of mine.  When I do, I make it known here.  I am still working on a revision of my first book and the journal I kept while finishing it; those items will get more attention in July.  Thank you for your time; remember, if you leave a comment on this blog, it is appreciated, mediated.  Tell us all your thoughts on writing; happy blogging!

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.

 

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.

Sentence Constructs. The Emphatic, the Magnificent.

Sentence Constructs.  The Emphatic, the Magnificent.

This is a post I have wanted to write out for some days, now.  It is mostly a tribute to Thomas S. Kane, who is no longer alive.  From what I understand, he wrote more than just one or two books, was a professor of English for over two decades.  He is a very inspirational author – in my mind – because he shows us many things that we can do with our written grammar that are simple, fun, summarized, accurate.  Not claiming to be all-knowing, I have been very impressed with his choice of quotes and explanations of certain concepts in writing – especially with such ideas as sentence construction.  When do we use an emphatic sentence?  When it is appropriate to draw attention with one, among other normal constructs?

The book I have been reading that I get a percentage of my writing inspiration from can be found here.  It is encouraging and makes prose manufacture seem easier and more possible.  Better.  Anyone who reads/considers this text will at least find added confidence in their pursuit of writing; the book is hard to put down, much more fun and thought provocative than 98% of the grammar books I have encountered.  It is my favorite, so far.

In this hopefully not-too-long post, I intend to present a few emphatic sentences.  What they say may not be too important, but the kind of sentence made and how its meter or punctuation is chosen will may be.  Some of the most impressive sentence constructions I have seen while reading Kane’s book so far are explained below.  In order to refrain from this idea taking too long, I decided to include about five favorite forms of sentence construction.

The triadic sentence.

A triadic sentence is a kind of a freight-train style sentence; it is a popular choice among authors due to the idea that it is limited and confined.  A common freight-train sentence can include any number of clauses/phrases; a triadic sentence’s secondary part is a 3-phrase combination.  In my first example of  a sentence construction for this post, I will describe hot-air balloons with a triadic sentence.

The balloons floated freely through the air, their passengers at awe with the farmland below; their rate of travel masked by their effortless existence in the lower atmosphere; their distinctions made by their varied brilliant hues of primary and secondary colors.

The convoluted sentence.

I am impressed with the construction of certain forms of sentences.  This particular form of construction is nearly the most difficult and impressive that I have seen.  I am sure constructs of this nature occur naturally – when manufactured on purpose, however, they endure the notion of additional skill or effort or even the chance of luck.  It is a periodic structure that includes subordinate elements which split the main clause of the sentence.  My example is below.

She drew attention, be her frail white sun suit in semblance to her skin, to those who witnessed the stretch of her purr.

Such sentences can be tasking on their readers and should be used sparingly, reminds Kane, as these next sentences are also rather emphatic.  They draw emphasis, lose their mite when overused.

The Fragment.

What fragment?  This one.  And another?  Oh, sure.  Not quite the last.

Polysyndeton and asyndeton sentence constructs.

These formidable words were inspiring to me.  They were ideas that I had not heard or or read about; I decided to include them in a post, here.  These are easier to make than a purposely constructed convoluted sentence, are thought to be dangerous to use in the academic world and should be approved of prior to delivery if at all possible.  Else, take no chance with them.  Make the better grade, in other words.

To put it simply, a polysyndeton sentence presents to its audience a list, just as the asyndeton.  Polysyndeton sentences do not use commas to separate the objects/phrases in the list, asyndeton sentences do.  An asyndeton sentence needs no conjunctions – it does not use the words and, or, nor or yet.  A conventional sentence uses commas and a conjunction, with or without a comma before it.  I will write a sentence three ways, as was done in Kane’s book, with my own sentence.

Conventional.

The amazing and well-read author’s fantasy works commonly included wizards, magic, lands, elves, horses and fairies.

Polysyndeton.

The amazing and well-read author’s fantasy works commonly included wizards and magic and lands and elves and horses and fairies.

Asyndeton.

The amazing and well-read author’s fantasy works commonly included:  wizards, magic, lands, elves, horses, fairies.

As stated in the text I got these ideas from, conventional sentences that present a list can draw attention to the last element written.  Both polysyndeton and asyndeton sentences draw attention to the objects in the list equally.  The items as a group usually have more attention with the polysyndeton style, and a group of things described with the asyndeton style exist with less emphasis.  I liked those structures, personally.

Mimetic Rhythm.

Quite possibly the most impressive examples I have read in prose were mimetic rhythm constructs.  They present to their readers poetic meter, proper construction, and secondary meaning.  They are only done well by the masters.  Mimetic means imitative; a mimetic sentence imitates the perception a sentence displays or its presentation of feeling.  Its meter alludes to its emotional display, in other words, as best explained in Kane’s text.  Here are a few examples.

x       /      x       x        x        /        x        x     /          x    x     /       x       x         x   /  x  x        /          x    x    /      x      x

Her long pale drab hung loose from the height of her shoulders down in artichoke green, to the dull, flat floor.

The sentence above tries to use non-exciting adjectives to paint a monotonous picture of a dismal and non-important lady.  While imperfect, the x‘s above attempt to mark the unstressed syllables and the /‘s attempt marking the stressed syllables.  As it may be of no surprise, the example above was inspired by but not about the historical monarch figure, Plain Jane.  The next sentence should be more exciting.

/        x    x       /     x   x    /     x     x   /     x     x     /    x     x    /     x      x    /      x   /      x     /    x     /       /      x    x    x   /  x  x

Shimmering sparkling shining in glisten, her necklace’s crystals by one by one, the elf princess sported no additional

x

need.

While the above example was a rough and improvisational attempt, it was still somewhat exciting to construct.  The very essence of rhythm is presented in meter similar to actual poetry.  The line continues with its sharply repetitive sounds and concludes with less enthusiasm.  In prose, rhyming, alliteration, and even musical meter must only be used when able to be done without drawing too much attention to a sentence.  As an author, one wants to make a single sentence important from time to time, to draw emphasis.  When the situation arises, we can resort to one of the many forms of emphatic construction.

Conclusion.

So there we have it – some example attempts of impressive prose construction.  While I may be able to win no poetry contest without question, I cautiously remind others not to sell themselves short.  We are all inspired by various concepts from time to time.  I am a thankful man learning.  So hats off to you, avid audience; I await your valued commentary.

🙂

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.  🙂

A Jog for More

A Jog for More

One time I was scheduled off for the day and woke just before sunup to go out for a run.  My trusted cold glass of coffee with a shot of syrup nearby, I drank it down.  I put on clothes good enough for the venturous goal, a pursuit of, yet again, undue fatigue.  I made my way down the stairs outside and jogged down the city sidewalk for a while, a few blocks.

New to the city, I continued my exploration.  I decided to dart down a random alley, as if something was running with me.  I took a few steps to catch my breath walking, and I picked my pace back up as if on my way to the other side of the city, altogether.  The alley was interesting and wet.  A danger due to friction, I was cautious not to lose my footing.

As the alley was nearing an end, I would be coming out onto another main city street.  I ran by a young woman crying.  She had her head between her knees as she sat on the ground.  “What a waste of time,” I thought to myself.  She was possibly seeking attention; I walked over to her just in case I could actually be of help.  I knew better than to fall into some form of a trap or foolish ploy.

Are you okay?” I asked.  She looked up to me with a furious and evil stare saying, “No! No I am not!”  “What happened?” I asked.  “I was jogging down this alley, slipped, and lost my headphones.

That is terrible.

It would not have been so bad, had I not been waiting all morning to hear a selection of heavy metal tracks.  I really wanted to rock hard and get some good exercise in this morning.  Oh no, however, I lost my headphones and they fell through the grating back there.

Can we get them out?

No – I checked.  They are gone.

I thought about this for a second; my heart went out to this young girl.  She was either a great actress, as some are, or she really lost her headphones.  I decided to believe her story.

Little did you know;

fire breathes from my soul…

I am a bringer of rock and roll.

Here and on this day we can make our own.

She stood up and helped me climb up on top of a dumpster close to the corner of the more busy sidewalk nearby.  She looked at me as if she was thinking, “I will go first, and then you chimb in.  We will wreck this crowd.

In a low tone she sang, “Out from the depths of evil, I do come…

I yelled, “Never will I sympathize!

From the darkness I am strong;

“I drink the blood of evil all day long;”

“So join around, and hear our song;”

“Bang your heads, and dance along;”

“Your off to work;”

“You will buy it, too;”

“The devil in me;”

“Must live in you!”

By this time their were some people below us enjoying our new song.  It was naturally best to sing at the same time and repeat the words so that our crowd of people could enjoy it, too.  We both sang,

“So come along, sing our song, you can move those bones and live your day long!

So come along, sing our song, a fight-for-some-evil and we will die to live strong!”

The crowd sang, too,

“So come along, sing our song, you can move those bones and live your day long!

So come along, sing our song, a fight-for-some-evil and we will die to live strong!”

Then, we all sang the new improv one last time, singing,

“So come along, sing our song, you can move those bones and live your day long!

So come along, sing our song, a fight-for-some-evil and we will die to live strong!”

We both were helped down from the dumpster and I could tell she was at least happier and somehow motivated.  I did what I could to depart on a positive note and said, “I hope your day gets better.

As she was laughing, I thought she gave our singing a complement when she said, “Do not quit your day job!”  She smiled, jogged on.

My Most Prized Possession

My Most Prized Possession

Like the cleanliness of a floor with nothing on it, and as the deep sea’s endless flatness presents to us a peaceful existence when it can, I prefer nothing.  My most prized possession is not having one.  John Lennon mentioned this idea in a song or two; Buddhists consider the notion, too.  Even Christians are against forms of greed, though Satanists enjoy the notion of indulgence.  No one wants to make a mistake… I have goals.  Many people do.  I love to write; being able to is a talent I consider to be somewhat of a possession of mine.

I am new to writing as a craft, compared to what I want to be able to do with it eventually.  I have been able to write well for most of my life; I realize that there are techniques that I still have yet to master.  Anyone can sit and jot some prose without too much difficulty; I am still new enough with writing to be in pursuit of my own style and voice.  I do already have both a voice and a style; you do, too.  Being able to choose your own voice or writing style can be a challenge if you make it hard on yourself.  It will be a worthwhile endeavor, even if we do not find these goals to be easy.  Not for me… natural talent is one thing; I still have some exploration to do in the world of grammar and style.

For the most part, though, I am happy with what I can already do.  My talent is hard for me not to covet; being too proud would certainly have its mindless drawbacks from a secondary perspective.  I love to write.  I plan to.  I like reading others’ writings; I want to do better than most.  I think I can.

So, to be new to an old art is a fun and exciting adventure.  I do not have a lot, worldly possession wise.  I am not overly concerned with the notion.  I will be thrifty or giving when I can – I hope my books sell to millions of readers before  I die.  I have a few projects that I am working on.  Life is not easy for me, for now.  With tentative financial debt and a dedicated quasi-addiction to writing; I do what I can.

Hats off to you though, if you chose a car or house or even a week-willed person.  You can have something and suffer the consequences as a calculated cost.  Praise that idol.  Keep it well.  Let it all go; the choice is indeed yours when you are able… know that I am behind you.  I hope you as the audience enjoy my words.  I, from time to time, put what thought I can into them.  My goals with writing are usually achieved in my opinion.  I have nothing else I want more, and I plan to gain, gain, gain.

I have no possession to covet; my writing is my breath of life.  If you have read this, thank you for your time and more power to you.  Be what you can be.  Choose well, for the future is at hand.

My Bags!

My Bags!

“Six hours will not be too long,” I thought to myself.  There would be plenty to do around the airport.  I went and tried out the coffee – its flavor was uniquely predictable, as always.  I put about six grams of sugar in it with some ice from the nearby soda machine.  I sat and thought for a while; why not write a story?  I was going to walk around asking for a pen and possibly find some napkins or something to write on, and I heard a woman scream “Ahh… He has my bags!”

I looked that way and saw a man running with a carry-on bag and a purse towards the front of the airport.  He normally would have been able to be stopped by the facility’s employees, however there were none by the door he was headed to.  I sprint in a dead run towards the man; he was sure to get away.  I ran after him, anyway, and, as luck would have it, the woman’s purse got caught in the door as the man was escaping.  I tackled the man in the revolving door like I was playing football, and attendants with hip radios were there in moments.  I tried to get a good look at the man’s face, however they carried him away in cuffs.

The woman thanked me, and the guards checked me out to make sure that I was fine.  “How can I ever re-pay you?” asked the woman.  “With a handful of cash,” I said, “Just playing.  I am glad he did not get away.”  The woman was fine.  I borrowed a pen from someone who said I could keep it, and a college student happened to be nearby to give me some paper to write on.  I wrote down everything that had happened, as well as a few thoughts on writing and pleasing a literate audience.  I checked the huge clock on the airport wall, I still had four hours.

There was a blind man near me, we spoke for some time and I fell asleep.  Time passed, and I woke up in time to board the airplane, finally.

A To Do List

A To Do List

Having found out about the death of my unknown aunt, I re-read the check.  Sure enough, it said, “$1,000,000.00.”  What was I to do?  I wrote a list of things to do:

  • Clean out house and throw everything away;
  • Form a list of debts and pay them;
  • Buy a small car;
  • Research +$100,000 investment opportunities;
  • Invest $500,000;
  • Drive to a beautiful new estate;
  • Purchase proper writing equipment and start a book press;
  • Decide on opening a small diner; and
  • Live well.

After having done these normal things, my life would sure be nicer.  I would probably go study English at a university to pursue becoming a professor and novelist.  I would also consider painting techniques with oils and other mediums.  I cannot imagine what other people would do.  I would even consider the purchase of a small houseboat with a new word processor – I love to write.

We are always constrained by various forms of inadequacy or poverty.  Once no longer poor, what would we do?  We can hope, for each other, that we would choose to live a good life and be nice to each other.