Tag Archives: ideas

New Fiction in Ten Days

I had so much fun last quarter participating in Amy Souza’s SPARK project, that I volunteered again, despite a full work load of two accelerated online college courses and a draft novel in dire need of editing.

My artistic partner this time was the talented Christina Brockett, who uses a camera to capture the world around her in ways that I never could. I reworked an earlier piece for a more contemporary setting that I called “Dockside” and received the following snapshot to use as inspiration for my response:

Photo by Christina Brockett

Ten days – not much time to get an idea, flesh it out into a story with compelling characters and engaging theme, then polish it into a short story to share with the world. You know what I found out? Deadlines are a tremendous motivation.

  • I had my rough idea within the first five minutes of seeing the picture, but how do you turn strange etchings on a gold watch into a viable story?
  • I tried to imagine who would etch unrecognizable symbols on a watch – someone who didn’t want the words discovered by the wrong person, or maybe someone who didn’t have enough room to write everything they wanted. I also realized that a pocket watch is the kind of thing that gets passed down from one generation to another when someone dies.
  • Plot came next: some kids examine an inherited watch and discover strange writing (greek) on the inside lid. They translate the writing and find clues that lead to a website message from a dead parent. Cool.
  • As I wrote the story, minor flaws developed and I made changes like a good little writer. Boys became college students, the clues became plausible links, and the message was properly sad.

At the end of ten days, I had a finished story I wish was better, but it’s done. We exchanged works: my story “Time’s Cruel Sands“, and Christina send me this photograph that I feel really nailed the mood of “Dockside”:

Photo by Christina Brockett

Amy plans to have our works up on her site soon, and I highly recommend that you give it a look. There were 90 entrants this time and no doubt you will find some truly creative works much better than my own. Next quarter, I hope to do this exercise in madness again and maybe we’ll have a chance to work together. Ten days of hell that I find absolutely worth every second.


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Blogging from A Bus

Every workday, I spend nearly four hours commuting to and from work. That’s a lot of wasted time; time I should be spending on my novel and burgeoning career as a fiction writer.

What do I usually do? Sleep, look out the window, or strike up a conversation with my fellow passengers.

Except for the sleep thing, I think I can turn these negatives into writing enhancement with only a little bit of effort. For example, there is a wealth of scenery that I watch go by ( when the window isn’t fogged up) that could readily lend itself to my storyline. On my right is a smallish house with boarded-up windows and overgrown lawn. A short iron gate stands behind the narrow walkway from the drive to the front porch and I can’t help but notice the tiny shape of a dog in the top of the gate. Who lived there? Where did they go? Did they take their dog with them?

an abandoned house on my route

an abandoned house on my route

As I thought about this, a scene I’ve been working on jumped out and started waving it’s hands wildly about. What if the people passed away in their sleep after the pulse, leaving the dogs to fend for themselves. When my character finds the house seeking shelter from a storm, he can now deal with a pack of feral yorkies.

Good stuff.

Thanks, city bus. I couldn’t have done it without you!

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