Here's another scene that I wrote as part of a Google+ competition for fun. The idea was to start with the line in the picture below, 'There are few things in the world that frighten me more than...' It was fun to write this and once again in a different genre than I'm used to. Almost apocalyptic, futurist stuff with guns. I like this quite a bit and am considering writing a little more. We'll see...
These prompts are a great way to hone my writing skills and try new things. I suggest all writers have a go at this. Try writing something short for this one, I'd love to read what people come up with!
There are few things in the world that frighten me more than love. It is the beginning and fall of all things. Love causes hate. Love causes sadness. Love… causes fear. If it wasn’t for love I wouldn’t have been sitting, waiting for a message I didn’t believe would come. The message did come. Love made me believe it wouldn’t. It made me hope and then stripped it away…
I watch the rain run in rivulets down my window. They join together as they travel, creating bigger drops. The curtains are suddenly pulled shut.
“What are you doing Mira?!” Tash whispers urgently from her position by the window, “What would you do if they saw you?”
I cross my arms, glaring up at her. I shrug.
Tash sighs with exasperation. “Honestly Mira. It’s sad that they got Kain but you have to move on. You can’t afford to sit around like this. You need to pull your weight around here.”
“I only joined you because of him,” I whispered with menace, standing up from the worn armchair, “I could leave.”
Tash’s eyes widen, her mouth open as she searches for the right words.
“Leave her be Tash,” comes Derek’s commanding voice from the door, “She’ll come around. This was Kain’s idea after all.”
Tash gives me one last meaningful look before trailing out of the room after Derek. I wait for a moment before I pull the pendent out from under my shirt. I flip open the locket and look longingly at the picture inside; a picture of Kain and I, smiling. A tear rolls from my eye and down my check. Like a raindrop on a windowpane. The tear falls from my chin on to the leather box at my feet. I look down at it and feel a pang. Kneeling down I carefully run my fingers over the leather, feel at the strong clasp, and flip it open. Inside was a gun. Not just any gun, a sniper rifle. Kain had given it to me the day I had joined the Freedom Hunters with him. It had been his, but he said I was the best shot he had ever seen. If I had gone with him that night, I could have watched his back. He would have come back to me. I snap the lid closed again, my fingers trembling. I glance back at the doorway where I could hear a number of muffled voices. They wouldn’t notice if I left now. I grab my trench coat from the arm of the chair and pull it on. Grabbing the large leather case I sweep from the room, out the door and into a dark alley. I raise my face to the sky, the rain falling against my skin easing off to a spattering, and then was gone a second later. The moon glowed directly above. I smile slightly despite it all. It felt like a good night for revenge.
With the case strapped to my back I speed down the empty street on the motorcycle. My coat flaps behind me like the cape of a comic superhero. Am I being rash? Probably, but who cares? I saw lights up ahead and turn a corner, taking another route to my destination. The garrison isn’t a hard building to find with the beams of search lights streaming away from it in to the sky. It basically screamed, “If you’re going to attack something, attack this!” Of course it was practically suicide to try. Well tonight I was trying, and if it was suicide… so be it.
It's sometimes very strange how things evolve. About fifteen years ago, my nine year old grandson , Ian, came to live with us because my son and daughter-in-law were getting divorced and he didn't want to live with either of them. One day, this nine year old asked me to help him write a book, which I agreed to do. We worked on it for a couple of weeks and finally finished one chapter, Then, thank heaven, he lost interest. Try collaborating with a nine year old. Fast forward, fourteen years. My son was complaining to me that his ten year old, Kieran, refuses to read anything. On a whim, I dug out this chapter written years earlier, changed the name of the hero to Kieran and wrote a few more chapters. I sent them to my son who said Kieran read them and wanted more. So I continued and finished the story, which he read. I wrote a second book, which to our surprise, he also read. My son told me that I must have missed my calling. Having gotten my fiction writing chops back which had been rusty, this led to books three and four which are full length books which he read and by this time, my granddaughter, then nine started to read them. The result was a series of four books about Kieran and his Weird Window, which is a portal to another universe. The books are available as downloads and in paperback on www.weirdwindow.com. Having established a set of characters who have histories and personalities and an environment which violates the laws of physics, but not too much, there is no question that I could write a dozen more of these if there was a demand. The characters drive the story. In a sense, the writer need only watch what they do in his mind's eye.
Now I am writing full time. I wrote a novel many years ago and didn't do anything with it. I have recently self-published it on Smashwords. I have just released an “adult” unabridged novel, Solomon's Dozen, about a dirty old man's adventures. Self publishing on Smashwords is fast, easy and free. It can get your books out there. But while the e-books are available, I find that printed books are still more in demand. Having published the Kieran books in paperback, I can tell you that getting books in print is also relatively simple and not too expensive. And since you can print small quantities on demand in a matter of days, there is no reason not to do it.
If any of you are interested
The Kieran Series - Children’s Adventure Series https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/18871 http://www.weirdwindow.com
Corviglia - Murder in the Alps https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/498337
Solomon’s Dozen - Confessions of a Dirty Old Man https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/526244
About Alan Wallach
Born and raised in Brooklyn. he has a degree in chemistry. After a tour in the US Air Force as a meteorologist, he went to work for IBM and back to school for graduate study in mathematics. He has been associated with computers for most of his business life in one form or another. He has been a technical writer, and for almost 15 years wrote a computer column for the Sunday Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield MA. In the early nineties, his Plain English Guide to Your PC was published and and right before the millennium his book, The Year 2000 Hoax was released, which debunked the doomsayers prediction of an economic collapse because of the Y2K bug.
Alan is an accomplished classical pianist and considers music his first love. He is a basketball nut and still plays often in the early morning hours with a similar minded group of nuts. He and his wife have recently moved from the Berkshires in Massachusetts to New Jersey, in full view of the Manhattan skyline. He has two sons and five grandchildren. He is now a full time writer working on a new novel and continuing his Kieran series of books for young readers. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
I love superhero stories. They appeal to my imagination and my sense of fun. They are so full of the wonder of “what if?” What if you could see through walls? What if you could fly? What if you were super-strong? I’ve read comics and watched superhero shows and movies all my life. I consume the high and low brow, the full gamut of production values. The Avengers down to the Toxic Avenger.
As a child of the 70s and 80s, I loved Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Batman and Robin, Shazam, The Hulk and The Greatest American Hero, as well as my cartoon heroes like the Superfriends, Underdog, and Mighty Mouse. My mom would let me buy ten-cent used comics from the bookstore on the avenue and I’d load up on Red Sonja, Spiderman, and Fantastic Four. My imaginative landscape was rife with capes and spandex.
I don’t remember particularly being aware that most of the characters I was reading and watching were men. Though I do remember thinking that I was going to need to grow an impressive set of breasts if I was going to be able to face off against the bad guys. It looked like you’d need them to hold the costume on. I imagined myself the hero easily enough and wore my fair share of capes made of blankets or wielded cardboard swords with my friends in those years before mass produced superhero play sets.
The superhero geek in me has loved the way superhero stories have moved into the mainstream, with A list actors playing them and blockbuster budgets supporting the special effects. But, even as my kind of stories come to the forefront, I feel alienated from them. I’ve lost that child’s ability to see the heroes only as heroes and not as men--men with very few women among them. I don’t see myself in the story the way I once did.
In a way, it feels like a step backwards. Wonder Woman was considered wonderful enough to headline a hit television show in 1975, but here forty years later, there’s debate about whether she’s a character worthy of a movie. And Wonder Woman’s not even that edgy or confrontational. You’d think she’d be a safe bet.
Having daughters has highlighted that even further for me. Women make up half the world, but they definitely don’t make up half the cape-wearing, butt-kicking heroes in these stories. And, when there is a fun female character, like Gamora in the recent Guardians of the Galaxy movie, they leave her off the merchandise. Really, Disney?
So, that’s part of why I wrote Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel. It’s a book about women--grown women with children, jobs, families, issues…and superpowers. It was a way to get back into the stories I’ve always loved.
About Samantha Bryant
Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now available for pre-order and will be released by Curiosity Quills on April 23, 2015. You can find her online on her blog, Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+.
Part of my business as a freelance editor, proofreader and indexer is educating people about why they need an editor and how they can hire one more affordably than they think.
Why didn’t we see that error or typo in our writing before we clicked on Send? It’s almost inevitable. You need a fresh pair of eyes. Proofreaders are trained to catch those mistakes and save you embarrassment: I recently proofread a 281-page book with typos on 30 them. Unfortunately, it was already published… [Proofreading is done at the end of the editing process and concurrently with the end of the publishing process. I only discuss it first because most writers begin their inquiries by asking for proofreading and then editing.]
So what is editing, anyway? Let me tell you what it isn’t: it’s not a Mean Teacher type scribbling all over your pages with red pen (and most editing is done electronically now). It’s not a ‘quick look’ and it’s not a one-email reply. Good editing is an ongoing, collaborative, creative process. An editor should take time to get to know a little about you and about your written project, and then he will be able to tweak things that will make your writing even more polished. Your voice should be maintained, not stripped away. Basic errors will be corrected, but the writing itself should stay yours.
A lot of writers feel they can’t afford editing. In the case of those seeking to be published and sell books, they can’t afford NOT to have an editor. Well-meaning friends and relatives are great for initial feedback, but you need a trained editor to work on your manuscript if you want a chance to be printed or to make sales. So here are some tips to reducing the number of hours, and dollars, required to get edited.
1. Keep all emails and take notes from all discussions so that decisions can be easily reviewed. That way, nobody is wasting precious time trying to reach each other and ask what had been decided about certain plans for the manuscript.
2. Send a tidy manuscript. Would you send a pile of messy, loose, mismatched papers in an envelope? An electronic file needs the same as a hard copy: a system of filing, order, identification and professional presentation. It’s hard to get started on the actual work when you have to sift through disorganized information first.
3. Strip out some basics on your own. A horror story need not be set in Gothic type. Someone who is going to closely read some 50,000 words needs a streamlined type such as Arial and a sensible font size ~ something that renders an average of 250 words per page. Also ensure that other elements of your manuscript are editor-ready: standard margins, black print on white background, properly formatted foot/endnotes and bibliography, and most importantly the whole manuscript! Adding more text later will elongate the editing timeline and the invoice will reflect that.
4. Send a style sheet along. Save time corresponding with the editor by making an alphabetical list of names and special spellings and other writing conventions that you used; the more you explain up front, the less time is spent consulting.
5. Share some concept art about your text. Do you have art, music or film examples of the mood and atmosphere you’re trying to evoke with your writing? Help the editor get inside your head by sharing them.
6. Respect the terms of payment. Don’t balk at a deposit to secure your place in line, and pay promptly for even better service: I give one of my clients a 25% discount because she routinely pays her invoices within the hour.
7. Don’t rely on computer programs to fix spelling, check grammar and make indexes. That’s like using Easy Bake Ovens to make delicious food. The market is saturated with writers all competing for exposure and sales: you need to stand out right from the start of the publishing process or you’ll stand less of a chance. Do you want to be the author of the book on Amazon where a reviewer writes, “Needs editing”?
Editing is an integral part of writing a book. If you’d like more information about what an editor can do for you, contact me or your local branch of a freelance editors organization.
About Vanessa Wells
Vanessa was a Latin and English teacher for almost twenty years. Although it was hard to put down the textbooks, she is now happily ensconced in copy editing, proofreading and indexing, with more dictionaries than ever. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her writer husband and her cat, the children having flown the nest.
Vanessa Wells can be reached at Wells Read Editing by emailing email@example.com, connecting to her LinkedIn profile at ca.linkedin.com/in/vanessawellseditor/, or following her on Twitter @vwellseditor.
Editing is the monster under the bed for many writers. It’s not fun for the most part. The first time I read through a new manuscript of mine I think, “Wow! I wrote all that?! YES!” Then I go back for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th…. You get the gist. Every time I read through my work I see more mistakes, I find another plot hole, and I find paragraphs of useless wordsmithing which I know must be deleted.
This is one of the hardest parts of editing for me. I feel like I worked so hard on this masterpiece of a manuscript just to be forced to cull a load of my lovely words. Even if I know it is for the best, it still hurts.
The rule I try to go by is, “If it doesn’t aid the story, get rid of it.” But sometimes this is difficult to know. As a writer, most of what I write feels like it is necessary. I feel like I need to give that added detail. It is hard to separate my imagination from the story and remember that it is up to the reader to imagine the story how they see fit.
This is where I find new eyes are very helpful. Whether this is an editor or beta readers, or just some friends you give your work to. Honest feedback will help you to understand what parts of your manuscript are just not working or unnecessary.
It won’t make the actual deleting part any easier on the heart! But at least you will understand what needs to go.
Scarlett Van Dijk
What strategies do you use to get rid of those unnecessary words?
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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