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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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Off to the Races

Lots of things have happened so far in this project and none of them are me physically writing down any part of my story. But the groundwork has been laid for a) this story, b) this year, c) the social networking aspect of this project, and d) Aaron’s fleas. He doesn’t have mange anymore, so I gotta talk about what’s what.

We’ll go in reverse. The social networking stuff Aaron touched on a bit in his email. We’re going to have a Twitter account, which is pretty monumental as I have never actually sent a tweet before (despite this being my third Twitter account – it’s a long story). We have our email (shortstoryproject2012@gmail.com). And now we have a Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/633656743446717/) The Facebook group will be something of a hub. We’ll post links to new blogs we’ve written, we’ll try to figure out a way to get our Tweets over there. It might be the way we send out our stories, I’m not sure. Either way, most people have Facebook, so if you’re interested, go there and get into the group. It’ll probably be quite light at first until more people get interested, so at least you don’t have to worry about reading the updates taking up too much of your time.

Speaking of which, people are interested. I’ve had a couple of people so far express some interest in possibly being a part of the group in various capacities, from reading stories to possibly writing stories and whatnot. That’s an intriguing prospect and one we’d have to hammer out logistics on. For now, we’re keeping the official project just between Aaron and I, with the possibility open down the line of having “guest writers”. That being said, we are definitely encouraging all writers to join the Short Story Facebook group as a community of writers who are sharing info about their projects, tips, ideas… everything. If it ever gets bigger (which we’d love), we’ll cross that bridge later and figure out ways to get more people directly involved if it comes to that. Or we’ll just write these four stories and then take another 2 year vacation.

As for my story, I am using one of Aaron’s suggestions. Many didn’t leap out at me but one did: “a teenager fears they have lost the ability to hear”. I’ve been interested in deaf culture for years and can sign to some degree and communicate with deaf people. I’ve actually befriended a surprising number of deaf disc golfers over the years, so at least I’m not writing totally from imagination here. As per our guidelines, I’m not sticking to the suggestion by the letter, but I am using it as my springboard.

I envision a world where only one person, (my main protagonist, a 13 year old girl) can hear. Everyone else is deaf. Not sure if it’s a world, an island, or what. Also not sure if they’re human or not, but I think that is largely irrelevant right now. So for part of the story she has to figure out why that is, and also how to explain hearing in a UNIVERSE where it doesn’t exist, essentially. I like that idea. I already have a rough outline of the story in my head with some fun turns along the way, and in doing so I will actually end up using one of the ideas I supplied for Aaron. Well, it wasn’t one of my ideas, it was an idea given to my by another Facebook group I’m a part of. I won’t tell you what that one is, as it might give away the ending (should I decide to go the route in my head right now).

I was going to put a Google Image here, but deafness is pretty hard to encapsulate in a photo. I did like the cartoon of the Asian girl signing “You go restaurant?” but it seemed more racist than helpful. (Yes, I am aware that’s how ASL would sign it…)

 

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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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Well underway – Aaron, don’t read this entry

While getting ready to take my return flights, I looked over my chart of ideas for sequels and prequels and realized it was almost entirely sequels. So I kept writing more summaries. Some of the ideas were absolutely terrible. There was the topic I talked about in my last entry, the thoughts of a stack of lumber (January’s story). There was one that would be a prequel to several of the stories (mostly the later ones) where you were at the Secretary of State’s offices and they were approving all these business names that were bad puns (Merchant of Tennis, Hamburgois… etc). There wasn’t even a plot attached to that one in my mind – just sitting there watching people continue to come in with bad pun named business. Then any of the stories with alien invasions (there were two), I had the idea of delving into the origins of the race(s), but that still didn’t seem all that interesting.

Meanwhile, I had had about half the stories having sequel ideas. Then I started looking them over and realized that most of them were like TV shows coming into the scene after it was done. For instance, I had paranormal investigators looking at the house that had personality for hauntings (January). I had a CSI coming in to investigate the suicide of the man after his wife left him (May). I had a Saving Private Ryan-esque story where the wife receives the letter and goes on a recon mission to retrieve her husband who she still believed to be alive (November).

Initially, the reason I had suggested the prequel/sequel idea is that I had just finished reading Verner Vinge’s “prequel” to Fire Upon the Deep which is set millions of years before and only has one of the same characters. What’s more, what made FUTD such a good book (the exploration of technology itself) was mostly absent from the prequel. So it was a prequel only because it was set in the same universe and had one character. I love that idea, that prequels and sequels could have such freedom and not be chained to the original. In Hollywood, sequels are basically rehashes of the originals, and prequels are rarely any better. I wanted to do something quite different.

Then I jotted an idea that immediately leaped out at me as a great one. In Aaron’s July story (the one with the sword-in-the-stone), I had first had the idea of having a modern-day boy find the letter that was written (which was the story itself) and resolve to break the curse. But then I realized that the sequel wouldn’t be all that different from Aaron’s original story.

Then I started to look at the characters – the boys, the brother, Jasper the old doddering fool – was there anything there? No. The king? No. The wizard? Hmmmmmm… that guy is very interesting and actually aside from appearing (and certainly contributing at the end to the plot), there isn’t anything known about him. He has no text, he has little description. He was wipe for exploration. Not to mention I could easily take the story back 800 years. In fact, because of how Aaron wrote it, the EARLIEST I could go back for a prequel is 200 years.

But indeed, I’ve set it back 800 years when the wizard was a boy himself. And this story is ending up being something of a Hobbit-esque journey. It will manage to tie in the origins of the ceremony, the rise of his power, and even an explanation of wizardry in general (in Aaron’s world). Further, I’ve been combing it for small references I can use again. Jasper (who does appear in my story) references “what [the wizard] did to my village” Well now, I guess I gotta figure that one out.

So while waiting for 3 hours at the airport, I began to write. And I immediately have a problem (actually two). First, much like this entry, it’s just getting way too long. Aaron’s original story was long, around 5500 words. Mine is about 2700 already and I haven’t quite gotten to starting the journey yet. This thing is going to be its own novel. Second, and this is minor but still niggling, is that this story is thematically and even in writing style extremely similar to my October story. The elements of fairy tale aren’t there, but just about everything else is. I actually had to abandon a relationship I wanted to include because it would have been the same as in my older one.

But anyway, I’m excited about this new one.

 

 
 

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my december story is finished

(derek you can read this)

so i assume all of you reading this (the two of you) have finished reading our november stories by now.  i can let it slip that i wrote a sequel to derek’s november story.  i think it’s pretty good.  tell me what you think –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so?  i think i captured the essence of his story pretty well.  i actually picked up about twenty minutes after his story finished.  it may have been hard to pick out, but it was evidenced in the line ‘

‘  this was a lot of hard work.

 

(derek, stop reading this, for serious)

now that that silliness is out of the way, i know which of derek’s stories i’m going to base my december off of.  i’m going to write a direct sequel to ‘Finding Home,’ his january story.  you’ll remember (all six of you who read it) that it was his story of a young man’s slow decent into insanity after purchasing his very first home.  i’m going to continue this story after he has spent some time in the institution that he ended up in.  more than likely, i’ll pick it up on the day of his release.

most of my stories throughout the year have taken very dark turns (or started out in the darkness and never really worked its way clear).  this will give me an opportunity to go a little bit crazy in my story telling.  adding in a bit of randomness along the way as well.

it should be a good time, and i promise i won’t kill anyone this month.

maybe i should take that back …

 

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Why is it dark?

Aaron, I’m talking about my story, so go away unless you’ve got yours figured out.

As I said in my last post, we’re doing a micro-story this month because of our extreme time constrictions. 1000-2000 words. I knew immediately what I wanted to avoid was writing a full story that was only 1500 words. What I wanted to do instead was write a story that was SUPPOSED to be 4000-6000 words but wasn’t for some reason.

The idea I’m flirting with now is having a character who is aware that she is being deleted. I think I’m going to go all meta with this. She is one of the characters I’d written years ago, a secondary character in a play I wrote. And she knows she is being deleted. What’s more, she knows that Derek Sonderfan’s entire cannon is being deleted for some reason. As she starts to piece this together, she realizes that things are being deleted in a very specific order. In an idea world, the actual story will deteriorate right before the reader’s eyes.

Now here’s the tough part: translating that idea to paper. I’ve already written almost 1000 words and I’m grossly dissatisfied with how it sounds. I think I might start over from scratch. I love the idea, but am starting to think there isn’t a great way to get it in short story form. Ugh.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in derek's writing, monthly topic

 

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Oh where to go, where to go…

Originally, I had planned on barring Aaron from reading about my story for no other reason than to spite him for barring me from reading his for the entire month. I thought that would be fun. Now, I’m barring him from reading about my story for the month EVEN if he has his all figured out. So Aaron, I’ll talk to you when we swap drafts, but when I tell you to take a hike, don’t read anything for the rest of the month. So bye. Take a hike. I was going to spell “siyonara” but no matter how I did it it always looked wrong.

Good, I hope he’s gone. Why have I banned him?

Well, because my very first thought when we got our topic(s) was that I was going to stick it to the topics real good. For the most part, I’ve been very faithful to the topic and haven’t tried to make a mockery out of any of them. Well, that’s not quite true – when Aaron gave me 750 words, I did pretty much bastardize what he gave me and turned it into Party Quirks. But of all the topics we’ve agreed upon, I’ve treated each with respect and seriousness. So when we got this one:

a baker puts a special ingredient in his bread that changes life in his sleepy town, while someone in the town discovers a surprising branch on a family tree

I IMMEDIATELY started thinking of ways of being a smart-ass. The easiest one (and first one I thought of) was to literally have someone walk out and notice a branch in an old tree on their family’s lawn for the first time. Provided I go with the whole “F this topic” route, I’m keeping that. Then, I also thought of having the place be called Sleepytown, where everyone is narcoleptic or something. Of course, that immediately made me think that I’d be writing a kids’ book, which I also haven’t totally abandoned yet. Then I naturally thought that I should write the world’s WORST kids’ book, where all sorts of truly gruesome things happen. Again, another topic I haven’t abandoned.

Then I wondered how I could get around the baker, and of course I could have someone’s last name be Baker, and then he could be whatever he wants. A mad scientist was my first thought, so he could be putting some crazy toxins in the bread, or a previously-undiscovered element that causes people to have super powers or insatiable sex drives (if it were the world’s worst kids’ book). Then I had thoughts about someone time travelling from the future to give him something totally asinine to put in the bread.

Then my inner Corey Revilla took over and I started thinking of having him put totally impossible things into his bread, like black holes or anecdotes. Breaking convention like that made me think I should somehow have it be a meta-story where the baker is really the writer.

 

So in short, now that you’ve gone through the twisting paths of my brain, I have a TON of ideas. But if I’m going to screw the topic over, I’d rather Aaron not know until afterwards so he doesn’t think I don’t care about the project. I like the project very much, but that doesn’t mean I can’t flip it off now and again.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in derek's writing, monthly topic

 

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