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Category Archives: aaron’s writing

Aaron’s first story

Perhaps because we weren’t frantically trying to cram in all our creative juices into just a few weeks, I feel like this story really exemplified why we do this project. Aaron presented me with a superhero story (which isn’t a genre per se, but you’ll see how it worked later) which was extremely rough. There were some real nuggets of good ideas there, but a) I felt like there wasn’t really any dramatic tension and b) I didn’t see it really read like a superhero story. I had sorta envisioned a comic book but without the pictures. He further had an additional challenge of writing the story in the present tense, something that I feel isn’t usually warranted and is VERY difficult to pull off.

When I read the first draft, I didn’t even take the trivial notes like grammar and stuff. I was going to make a couple of big-picture suggestions that I felt would round out the story and but also require somewhat significant rewrites. When I told him about them, he agreed with the notes (he had trouble putting into words why he felt his story wasn’t quite there to begin with, and it was largely the issues I had).

A few weeks later he gave me a story that was largely the same in terms of plot and characters but it worked so much better. He made a pretty bold (almost “gimmicky”?) choice on how to transition from the present tense to the past tense, and IT TOTALLY WORKED. Not only did it give a REASON for the story to be in present tense (aren’t most comic books?) but it also really made it a SUPERHERO STORY. It actually read to me more like a comic book just with this one addition. In fact, I suggested he continue to make that choice a tying element, something I think he will do in his final touch-up. Of course, the new play with tense resulted in many tense errors, but hopefully between the two of us we picked out most of those.

Also, he made the conflict much more immediate and threatening. It was in this strange place where it was MOSTLY an origin story but it also incorporated a fight scene. In his rewrite, he focused as much on the current fight, coloring it with how she found herself in that situation. That achieved two things – giving the story more importance, but also letting the character shine through more than it had. Aaron rarely writes women characters, and I’m glad he took a stab at one with such a distinct personality. It’s fun to see him playing around.

I think even with the extra time, both of our stories still have a slight feeling of being rushed because, as much as we like to pretend otherwise, we really write most of our stories in just a few writing sessions instead of writing daily or even weekly. I know with mine it shows by feeling a bit disjointed (something I tried to smooth out in subsequent rewrites). It shows with Aaron’s because I think more time would have fleshed out her character even more and evened out the tone of the past and present tense ‘stories’.

However, where this story stands at the “end” vs where it began is probably the most significant change in any of the stories he’s produced. Well done.

 

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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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Tearing Aaron a new…

Aaron and I are getting together sometime next week to discuss our stories. Aaron is on the right track for his story, though I have a couple of suggestions that I think will really strengthen the story. It’s weird, we allowed so much extra time for this first story (3 months) and by the time we get around to our first meeting we’ll be almost 2/3 the way through. It will still be enough time for a “gutting” if it comes to that, but I have a hunch that we’ll both be pretty polite with this first story and it won’t come to that.

That actually brings me to my thought about my story – what anyone else will think. I feel this could be a “wow” story, or it could be one that has potential but ultimately has no teeth. After all, there is no big pivotal climax, no fight scene. It’s Star Trek (it’s actual concept) vs. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams). Mine is something of a cerebral story which may not fly when it comes out that it’s a story about a theoretical local apocalypse.

In short, I probably didn’t need to write this, but I also don’t expect many people to read this.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in aaron's writing, derek's writing

 

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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The Short Story Project is BACK

It is with a dash of pride that I announce that the Short Story Project is BACK for 2015, although it will have numerous changes this year. So yes, for BOTH of you who are reading this now because it’s on your RSS feed, there will be stuff to do this year. Aaron and I were pretty concerned with what happened the last few months of the 2012 project – that it seemed more like a chore than a joy. So this year, we’re not doing it monthly. But that’s only the first of many changes.

– We are doing 4 stories total, once every three months. This will hopefully prevent burnout. The extra time MAY allow us to write longer stories. We had generally aimed for 4000-6000 words, but I know I’m mentally considering 5000-7500 my target for this year.

– The point of this year is less about turning out quantity, and more about quality. That’s not to say we didn’t have some good stories in 2012. Actually, I’m currently in the process (hello belated!) of submitting two or three of my stories to various short story publishers because I think they’re that good. One is requiring I’d say minor tweaks and the other is receiving almost nothing at all in terms of revision – that’s how well they stood the test of time. But part of the goal for the first year was seeing if I could do 12 stories in one year. I can, though some were duds. This year, we want to produce 4 excellent stories each.

– As we are giving more time, the project will focus less on the END RESULT and more on the PROCESS. We’ll be exchanging what we have written (even if not complete) after the first 4-5 weeks for the other person to review. This way, if the story is in major need of a total overhaul, it can still be accomplished. If, however, we’re already on the right track, then we can use the time for more subtle criticism. Then we’ll probably do more work and hopefully hand over the first completed draft sometime around the 8 to 9 week mark. One more set of critiques will allow us time to still do a somewhat substantial revision if need be. Then we can have a final get-together to touch up the little things. We think this will produce better results.

– We are abandoning the idea of each using the same topic. In fact, topics now will be more guidelines rather than rigid structures. We’ve each supplied the other with a list of topics (ranging from full plotlines to a character we’d like to see to simple ideas). The other can use one of these, three, part of one, or none at all. Again, we’re focusing more on the storywriting process itself rather than simply seeing how varied we can make a topic.

– Because of there being no need for secrecy, we’ll be posting more details about our stories on the blog itself. I think there are other ways to get the word out, but I’ll leave that up to Aaron’s first post.

– We will each give the other person $1billion if they write the best story of the year. I can pretty much guarantee it will end in a tie.

 

These are the major differences. As it was in 2014, we’ll also be using each other as sounding boards (and always we listen to readers too. Actually it was a comment of one of my readers that gave me GREAT direction for what would ultimately become my favorite story). Also, we’ll offer the stories up at the end of the writing period to anyone who wants to read them. Hey, if all goes well, you can be one of the lucky ones to say “I read this BEFORE it was published.” All you need to do is leave a comment her contact us at shortstoryproject2012@gmail.com.

Now, I wonder if either of us knows the password for that email address…

 

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Plans for 2014?

What’s this, you say? At least you might if you’re one of the four people who have RSS-feeded this blog to your readers or whatnot. I’m a little behind on this techno-babble. I still find it shocking that I have not one but two Twitter accounts (for which I’ve personally composed a grand total of 2 tweets.) This entry is only two or three sentences long and I’ve already drifted. Let me get back to the matter at hand.

Does this mean that the 2012 Short Story Project blog is back? Will Aaron and I be writing new short stories for 2014? No. No, we won’t. I’ve crushed all your dreams now. So go back to picking potatoes, as I’m sure that’s what the majority of our readers do for a living.

However, that doesn’t mean that this blog won’t see some action this year. For many years (more for Aaron than me), we’ve had some grand plans in our brains for novels. Personally, I’ve had an idea kicking around for a novel since I wrote a theme-mail to Will several years ago. I fell in love with one of the characters and thought he had legs to sustain a whole novel. Well, many years  and dozens of brainstorming sessions later, I think I have the skeleton of a novel in the works. The only thing that’s been stopping me is momentum.

So I figured if I set monthly deadlines for myself (just that I HAVE to write, not a specific amount that I NEED to write), I’ll be able to make a dent in this idea of mine. Aaron has agreed to review my stuff despite the fact that the general genre of my novel (noir) is not one of his favorites. Additionally, he has told me that he is interested in putting some of his long-standing ideas down on paper, so it would be a swap much like the Short Story Project of 2012 (lo those many years ago).

There are obvious obstacles to overcome, like how some months will have little or no contributions and others will have many. We’re not stressing. We both want to be writing again (lord knows I need something to keep me away from Angry Birds – seriously, why are those birds so angry? What did the piggies do to them, really?) We hope that having someone else expecting material from us will prompt us to actually provide some of that material.

So there is life in these creative bones after all. Will some (or any) of the stuff we write be available for reading by the general populace every month? I don’t know. Will we take criticisms from “the masses” and sculpt our writing accordingly? Got no idea. But we want to at least chronicle (to some degree) what we’re going through, so when we’re famous trillionaires (our debut novels each breaking record sales), we can print this blog out and sell it for even more money, because we’re greedy bastards at heart.

Enjoy the ride.

 

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