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Author Archives: aaronsbell

Well, it would appear Derek beat me to the punch today

i’m about halfway through reading and critiquing derek’s story, and thought i’d post an update since it’s been a little while.

i like it.

that is all.

 

the thing i find amusing about this version of our project is that we decided to not use the same topics, but we still ended up writing something similarly based.  the stories are pretty much total opposites in content, but there’s one idea that sort of hinges them together.

based on derek’s post just before, i think i already know what some of his ideas for my story will be.  when i sent him my first draft, i already had about seven or eight things i wanted to change, but i got delayed in finishing it up, so i didn’t want to wait any longer.  conceptually i really like my story, but i’m not sure it worked as well as i wanted it to in this form.

i wrote what basically amounts to a comic book super hero origin story.  which i think worked at times, and others it was a bit difficult to translate into a short story.  if i was working with an artist and actually doing a comic book, it would improve tenfold.  a lot of what i was trying to get across would have been so much easier with narration text and images, instead of what i felt was someone telling you every little detail of the past year of their life condensed into 3500 or so words.

i’m awaiting what he has to say about it, because i think we may be on the same page with a lot of things.  but then again, this is derek we’re talking about, so i’m sure he’ll surprise me and come at it from an entirely different angle than i’m expecting.

 

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One of those months

where i had around 2500 words and realized i hated the voice of the story.  i liked the story itself, but man was it starting to get tough to write.  so in typical me fashion, instead of going back and fixing things, i just scrapped it all and started over last night.  i’m sitting around 300 words now (everyone seems sick in this house and i didn’t have much time to actually sit and work) but i’m actually enjoying the story.

i’m not sure why i disliked the first draft so much, but after i got off to a hot start, it just stopped giving me any pleasure in writing.  part of it was that i’m writing a much more visually descriptive story than i usually do.  most of the time i like to give enough description to inform, without going overboard.  one thing that drives me crazy is when an author over describes everything.  it’s just a personal preference, but i don’t need you to describe the thread count of the bed sheets in a room the characters walk past, and never venture inside.  because i’m writing in a sort of comic book style, i have to get in some more description than i’d like, but it feels like it needs to be there.

as for now, i’m going to take a night off of writing to do a little re-plotting – i swear it’s not because i have no ending in mind yet.  we shall see how tomorrow goes with the writing.  i’m pretty sure i can knock out a decent amount of story in a short time, because it’s just fun to write this sort of thing.

when you do it correctly.

perhaps.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in aaron's writing, Uncategorized

 

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thankfully 2012 has been the longest year on record

running into its 37th month, just so we don’t have to change the name of this blog.

first, let me welcome everyone back. it’s been a long time coming and we’ve finally decided to push ourselves again this year. we did have plans last year but they sort of fell through, i forget why. anyway, that’s besides the point. the point is, we’re here to write some more stories that end in awful deaths and/or sadness.

second, we have a new way to follow the process. a new twitter account. you can follow us @shrtstryprjct because we have no vowels. that, or any decent name was taken or too long for twitter. most everything on there will probably just a a note updating about a new post here, but perhaps we’ll slip in some different information as well. or just randomly spew hashtags, as i am come to believe is all twitter is good for.

and now on to the fun stuff

so as derek mentioned, we’re only going to be writing four stories this year. possibly a 5th one thrown in for good measure with one of our ‘crazy’ themes from last year (where we each wrote the into for the other one to finish, had to work the same sentences or characters into a story, had to write a prequel/sequel to one of the other’s stories), but the year is long and we have plenty of time to decide on that in the future. for this month, we sent each other a list of around 15-20 characters/themes/locations to choose from. i’ve had a few ideas for things floating around in my head since we were probably working on this project the last time and i’ve never done anything with them. some of the things on my list reminded me of ideas i’ve had, and after some modifications i think i can finally write one of them.

now, keep in mind our subjects don’t have to be verbatim this year. it really started to become a chore trying to shoehorn some things into my stories because they had to be there, and i know there were times when it was forced. very forced. i had zero way to include my final sentence into that story, so i literally just threw it in anywhere. did it work? maybe. did it work well? oh god no. i got a note about that. did i change it? are you crazy? i had a newborn sleeping on me as i wrote most of that one, so i was running on fumes and didn’t care at that point.

anyway, the topics i am forming my story from (i’m not giving the entire list, just what i’m using in some way or another) –

  • a strong central female character (maybe lead, maybe not) that has a crippling fear or addiction
  • a code needs to be cracked in time
  • create a reality in which laws of physics are different but accepted
  • a sound that could kill someone

like i said, i’m using bits and pieces from each of these ideas to form my story. i guess i can talk about it, since we aren’t writing the same topics and are trying to keep things hidden from each other until our first round of edits. so this is it, my first reveal of this year.

i’m writing a superhero story.

now, before you are all shocked and thinking ‘what does he know about superheroes?!?’ i’ve done some research (i watched two episodes of the tick) and i think i’ve got this. actually, i’ve been reading comic books since i was little. i’ve always wanted to give writing one a chance, and while i’m not actually writing a comic, this is basically the next best thing. it’s only a little tougher because i can’t just write a description of some action for 6 pages and let the artist do their thing. i don’t think it’ll be that bad, and i’m up for the challenge.

the actual story is based on a girl with powers that is trying to defend her neighborhood from the triad’s influence and hostile intrusions. the strong female character is her, she basically has to stop something before it happens, the new reality is that super powers exist and people know about them, and her powers will be auditory in nature.

at least i don’t need to do insane amounts of research for this one. not like when i wrote elihu root and charles fairbanks into modern day times.

why do i do these things to myself?

 

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i’ll be honest

i completely spaced on writing this story.

i’m currently in week two of three of running my office while my boss is away, and if you’ve ever been involved in working for the government, you can imagine all of the ridiculous stuff that goes along with it.

with that in mind, i managed to write entire stories in a few hours for the project last year.  i’m pretty sure i can figure out a topic and write this one in a weekend filled with not only work (yes, saturdays are work days too), but also celebrating my birthday and mother’s day.

awesome times.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in aaron's writing

 

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time to rank derek’s stories

derek and i noticed something without or rankings of my stories from this past year – we both though the same 5 were the worst (in a different order however), we had the same pick for #7, the next 5 were the same (also in a different order), and had the same clear cut winner for which story was my best.  i’m curious to see how close we rank his stories.

12.  The Efficiency Expert (March) – my largest problem overall with derek’s writing (and he knows it) is that he sometimes has a tendency to be strange for the sake of being strange.  while i like the concept of having an efficiency expert come and detail exactly why a super-villain is always failing at everything he does (because they’re all dumb, duh), but this story gets a bit out of hand.

11.  The Exorcism of Anne Foster (June) – knowing that some of his previous stories had been a bit insane in nature, when we each wrote the first parts of a story for the other one to finish, i made an attempt to introduce as many characters as i could in as boring a setting possible.  derek managed to turn it into a game of party quirks, which foiled my plan entirely.

10.  Heads of State (February) – again with the fun idea taken overboard with the crazy.  i liked the eradication story, but this one just didn’t really do much for me overall – bitchesssssssss.

9.  Leaving Gunite (April) – the problem with putting two stories into one story is what happened to me.  i really enjoyed the old people on the bench stuff, and didn’t really care for anything else.

8.  Sleepytown (October) – out of all of his crazy stories, i liked this one the best by far.  it does, however, contain what i find to be the one of my favorite names for his characters – alvas grundstock.  no idea why, but it gives me a good giggle.

7.  Finding Home (January) – while his first month did bring the crazy, it ended up being much more serious and depressing than i thought it would have been.  i liked it enough to use my december ‘sequel or prequel’ story to continue the saga of portis goolsby.

6.  Seeing the Forrest for the Trees (September) – i like this story, i really do and wish i could have placed it higher.  even being written as a case study didn’t make it boring to me.  the idea of someone with multiple personalities having personalities that are aware of the others and want to cause harm to them was interesting enough to keep my attention.  it was an interesting use of having to insert 9 names into a story without having a giant cast of characters.

5.  Unbecoming (May) – honestly, the only reason why i rank this story as high as i am is because of the work derek put into designing that staircase.  i’m talking spreadsheets people.  the story itself isn’t bad by any means, but the effort put into what i’ve decided is the main character (the staircase) is beyond compare.

4.  Sunset at Belham Bay Park (November) – this was far and away derek’s most ambitious story of the year.  the fact that there are a couple long stretches of story without any adjectives.  the world being erased as the story goes on is just fantastic, even though i had to read part of it twice.

3.  Cornered (August) – derek has a style of writing.  the vast majority of what i’ve read of his (both in and out of this project) have been in that style.  this story shattered that style into a billion pieces.  it was actually a bit surprising to read a very angry narrative voice in his story.  this was close to being ranked #2 but couldn’t because of –

2.  Two Pair (July) – this story was fantastic.  and i’m saying this while admitting completely that 90% of the poker talk bored me.  the interaction between the not-devil and not-god was fantastic.  the end of the story came as a nice twist.  just a very well done story.

and of course, this leaves my favorite story as

1.  Birth of the Stone (December) – maybe i’m biased because this was based off of one of my stories.  i just really had a great time reading the history of two almost throwaway characters.  well, they weren’t really throwaway characters in my story as they both had important roles to play.  the world i created didn’t have a lot of description.  derek came up with an entire history (placing his story centuries before mine took place) of that story universe.  it was extremely well done, and i loved every word of it (even his initial draft which had such major plot holes i laughed at him).

 

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in response to derek’s rankings

before i go back and re-read (and possibly re-work) my stories again, i figured i’d give my own rankings of my stories.  it may change after reading them again, so this ranking list may change.  i’ll do it in reverse order as well –

12. The Baker (October) – after realizing that an awful lot of my stories ended up with someone’s death, i decided to write a choose your own adventure which let me include a whole lot of death.  painful and ridiculous deaths.  while i liked my idea, i didn’t really think i managed to pull the story itself together as well as i would have liked.

11. The Ledgers (August) – this was the first month that i decided i would attempt to throw in crazy names for things.  the merchant of tennis as the guys pro-shop name is possibly my favorite of them all.  the rest of the story just didn’t really do much else for me.

10.  Gaius the Bold (March) – i really like the idea behind this story a lot (what does your dog do all day when you aren’t home?  protect the house from alien invasion, duh), but i did end up throwing at least two of the sentences in for the sake of inclusion.

9. Sign of the Times (January) – if i wrote this story later in the year i think it would have been about a million times better.  that being said, it’s one of the ones i know i want to go back and fix.

8.  Rigging the Future (February) – william taft stealing teddy roosevelt’s time machine and heading into present day america?  roosevelt and a bunch of his cabinet coming here after him to bring him back?  what could possibly go wrong?  besides me getting to include a bunch of odd historical references pretty much everything else.  another one i think i could do a much better job with.

7.  The Fat Man (April) – this one sort of just slides by.  i don’t dislike any of it.  i just don’t like it all too much either.

6.  Year of the Stone (July) – i think the best part of this story is that it let derek write ‘The Birth of the Stone,’ his december story (which incidentally may be my favorite of his stories this year).  that’s pretty much the only reason why this one cracked the top half of my list.

5.  Dark November (November) – a short, short story.  i wrote this one in just a couple hours the night i emailed it to derek.  it was also a complete departure from my writing style in any other month.  considering those facts, i think it came out pretty good.

4.  My Name is Cashew (December) – it’s no great secret that i usually make fun of derek’s bizarre names for his characters.  it’s not all the time, but you won’t find any ‘randolph jones’ in his stories, you’re more likely to find a ‘phytzler swagtragler.’  i really did like his january story, and when the idea for a sequel came up, it was my first instinct.  it let me be a bit more loose and comedic than i had been for much of the year, and it also let me make fun of his naming abilities.

3.  A Life in Rouen (September) – writing a short story about an author where all his stories come to life was a lot of fun.  including references to all eight previous stories i had written (be it locations, characters, or objects) made it even more fun.

2.  Climbing for Her (May) – derek and i disagree about the ending.  not that it was good, only what exactly happened.  i’m pretty sure i’m right, but i won’t spoil what my intentions were so you can interpret it however you’d like.  also, i had a lot of fun with this story.

1.  Project Titan (June) – i’m seriously considering submitting this one for consideration in some contest or another.  the only problem is that derek wrote the first page.  my defense is that i just used it as a spring board and didn’t build from it.  i mean, there’s no way i would have thought of my idea without his start, but that doesn’t mean anything, right?  this was far and away the best thing i wrote all year.  i felt the most confident about it when i sent it to derek to review, and i still think that it holds up pretty well.  this was the first month i really felt comfortable with my writing, and it’s definitely evident.  from this point on i think my stories got stronger, not always better, but the writing was much improved.

so … i guess i’ll have to go back and read derek’s stories again to rank them.  hopefully i can get that up by the end of next week.

 

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overall i’m pretty satisfied

when i came up with the idea for the 2012 project, it started off as just a way to get myself writing again.  i enlisted the help of derek to send me ideas and feedback about the stories.  wanting nothing more than to use this as an exercise in writing, since it had been years since i spent any actual time writing anything.  when derek said he’d be interested in writing the stories as well i knew i would end up getting more out of the project than i originally thought.

having someone else writing the same stories as i was (well, let’s face it, we are very different people so we never really had the same concepts) pushed me to improve every month.  there were a few months during the year when i had real life get in the way of my writing time (when my 2nd son was born, when a hurricane decided to take out most of the new york tri-state area, the month when everyone was sick pretty much the entire time, etc.)  and to push myself to finish my stories in very limited time i treated it almost like a contest.

one thing i really wanted to get out of each month was an improvement in my writing.  while i’m not sure my stories themselves at the end of the year were the best of what i wrote (more on that later), i know that they were probably my best written stories.  when derek and i would go over our stories each month, in the earlier months i had a bunch of issues that i needed to work on.  by the end of the year most of them were corrected.  i say most because i would hop tenses a lot.  some of this was because i’d scrap my stories partway through the month and start over again.  some of it was my own editing of my stories to be from a different narrator.  some of it was because i’m a f*cking idiot.  i think i managed to get it mostly under control, but pretty much 1/4 of our conversations were having instances pointed out to me.

i haven’t re-read any of my stories at this point, much like derek, but i plan on it.  unlike derek, i’m thinking about doing another round of edits on my stories.  i know there are a few of them that i loved my idea but feel i failed in the execution.  going back to them with more confidence in my writing abilities would let me turn them into what they were supposed to be in the first place.

{quick note, i’ve been writing this post over a couple days when i’ve had time – in between days, derek has updated a few times so he’s already re-read stuff}

i sort of like not having a story i need to finish this month, because it’s given me a nice break with the family after the holiday season to continually break my toes on the various new toys left on the floors of my house.  i’ll probably start my review process in february.  i think overall we had a lot of fun working on this project and want to continue it in some way.  just not with as strict a deadline in place.  we haven’t really spoken about what our new project may look like, but i’m sure it’ll be something and we will keep everyone up to date on this site.

in the mean time i’ve been brainstorming ideas for something new to work on.  i’ve had an idea for a short story for about 9 years now and never actually put any work into it, so i may give that one a go.  i also had an idea for a book, but the more i think about it, it’ll turn into a trilogy.  sort of a dystopian  future where kids are forced to fight each other for their counties.  i don’t think anything like that has been done before, and it really seems like it would be popular with the kids.

 

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