The Shackled Man

I’m taking a two-week course in flash fiction writing with the definition of flash fiction being “You can read it in under three minutes.” The Shackled Man is my offering. I’ve got it down to 2m46s.

Let me know what you think, and thanks.

Creator and above level members can listen to my test read.


The Shackled Man

 
Saturday mornings. That was our time.

Dad tiptoed into my room and knelt beside my bed. I could smell him before my eyes opened. A good smell, a night’s sweat just washed away.

I kept my eyes shut until I felt the bristles of his mustache when he kissed my cheek. I’d open my eyes and see the twinkle in his.

“Want to go for a ride?”

There were four places we’d go. South, Logan Airport. West, French King Bridge. North, Queechee Gorge. East, L.L. Bean.

We always stopped at a Dunkin Donuts. If we started a little late it’d be a Dunkin Donuts half way there, about an hour out, half hour at the least. Or sometimes it’d be at the edge of town, right before we hit the highway.

Dad knew where all the Dunkins were. Nobody had breakfast sandwiches or drivethroughs back then. You had to go inside. He’d get a medium coffee, two sugars, two creams, and I’d get a chocolate milk and a bavarian creme, the first bite and it oozed out and into your mouth.

And then off we’d go, listening to the radio or singing songs. Didn’t matter the weather, every Saturday morning we’d go, always sure to be out of the house by seven, no later.

West and north we’d get to the bridges. There were parking areas and we’d get out and walk around. Dad would stay close to the rails, look over. “How far down do you think that is, son?”

I was too small, I couldn’t see.

“Be a long drop from here.”

East we’d get to L.L. Bean. It was totally different back then. Only locals and hunters knew of it. How my dad knew I’ll never know.

You could talk to guides, men who knew the lakes and rivers and mountains. Dad listened to their stories, about going so far out in the woods it seemed there was no coming back, then he’d check his watch.

“Come on, son. Time to be getting back.”


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O’ Happy Day – Narration

I attended a small con in November 2019 and had a chance to read some of my flash pieces to a group of fellow writers.

I told them prior to the reading, “This will be your chance to tell a fellow author, ‘My god, that sucks!’ and get away with it because I really want to know if I have any skill or if I’m fooling myself.”

Seven folks showed up to let me know if I sucked.

I read Sanctuary, It’s a Man’s World, Grafton’s Ghost Child, Owen and Jessica, Lessons Learned, and O’ Happy Day.

You can read the story along with my narration here.

Evidently my work doesn’t suck.

Enjoy (and leave a comment. I love comments).

By the way, this work was recently rejected by a magazine. I give their reason after the narration.


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post and requires either General Membership (free) or a Subscription (various levels). Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. All posts are free to all members save certain posts in the My Work category. Enjoy!

Character is… (Part 2.3) – Action is…

Bringing Your Character to Life via Action

This is the fifth in an ongoing series of StoryCrafting/StoryTelling posts I’m publishing for my own benefit; explaining something helps me determine if I’ve truly learned it or am simply parroting what others have offered. I learn my weak spots, what I need to study, et cetera.

Previous offerings include:

  • Atmosphere is…
  • Character is… (Part 1)
  • Character is… (Part 2.1) – Exposition is…
  • Character is… (Part 2.2) – Description is…

    And note that I’ll update/upgrade/edit these posts as I learn more.


    Action – most effective way to both show and demonstrate character.

     
    There is a phrase in psychodynamics, “You can not not communicate.”

    This is a powerful phrase to me because it is simple, elegant, and oh so true. The individual who stands mute and unmoving in a situation is responding to that situation. That response is a communication. Doesn’t matter what they’re doing, or I should offer “regardless of what they’re doing,” they are communicating their response to that situation.

    Action – aka “movement” – is a powerful descriptive, revelatory tool in the author’s kit.

    It’s not that a person is moving, it’s how they move. It’s not that a person is doing something, it’s how they’re doing it. Watch people the next time you’re in a mall or grocery store. How are the people dressed? Did they just throw something on or did they take time to present themselves a certain way? Imagine them grooming; do they take their time? Do they take their time to look unimpressive? Do they slap things on and look impressive? What does all that reveal about their character?
    Continue reading “Character is… (Part 2.3) – Action is…”

Character is… (Part 2.2) – Description is…

Bringing Your Character to Life via Description

This is the fourth in an ongoing series of StoryCrafting/StoryTelling posts I’m publishing for my own benefit; explaining something helps me determine if I’ve truly learned it or am simply parroting what others have offered. I learn my weak spots, what I need to study, et cetera.

Previous offerings include:

  • Atmosphere is…
  • Character is… (Part 1)
  • Character is… (Part 2.1) – Exposition is…

    And note that I’ll update/upgrade/edit these posts as I learn more.


    Description – Second most economical, second least effective. If you must provide a list of details, make the last one explosive, eye-catching, something highly contrasting with the previous, preferably bland, descriptive details.

     
    Imagine you’re going to cook a specific dish for some reason. I’ll choose Fettuccine Alfredo because I made it for Susan last night.

    Start with a list of ingredients:

    • light cream
    • milk
    • butter
    • flour
    • parmesan
    • ground pepper
    • salt
    • red pepper
    • chicken
    • garlic
    • heavy cream
    • ricotta
    • romano
    • asiago

    Good and not enough. If I dumped them all into a pot it wouldn’t be very good Fettuccine Alfredo. You can have all the ingredients but you have to put them together correctly to get the desired outcome.

    Ingredients must be in the correct order to get the desired result.

     
    What I need next is the order of putting it all together: Continue reading “Character is… (Part 2.2) – Description is…”

Rita Mae Brown’s “Starting from Scratch”

A Writer’s Mechanic’s Manual for Any Car on the Road

Okay, first thing and before anything else, Get This Book!

I don’t care where you are in your writing career, Rita Mae Brown’s Starting from Scratch will give you a chuckle (several hundred, probably) and clarify things that were not only muddy, but had been pushed aside because they were just too damn hard to figure out.

Worry no more, Rita’s got you covered.

 
I didn’t know who Rita Mae Brown was until a friend suggested I give her a read. This was back in the early-mid 1980s. He thought she was brilliant and hilarious.

That didn’t tempt me.

Then he told me she could benchpress 225#.

Yes, I was that much of an assh?le (may still be) that that caught my interest.

But I didn’t pick up one of her books (that I remember) until my first go-round as a writer. That book being Starting from Scratch.

Reading the book recently, it’s obvious I had read it at least once before; there were highlights in it. There were highlights of concepts I remember, if not exact phrasings. Truth be told, I was probably unprepared for the book when I first read it (my copy was published in Feb 1988). I’m glad I kept it around.

Starting from Scratch is a mechanic’s manual of the English language. Brown explains the purpose of first v third person POV with duh! level examples and lots of them. Ditto subjunctive case (trust me, you need to read this section). Ditto strong v weak verbs (another must read). Imagine someone showing you a crescent wrench and a 9/16″ box-end, showing you they can do the same thing, then demonstrating why one works better on these types of nuts, the other works better on those types of nuts.

Her Exercises chapter…remember what I wrote above about being impressed by her bench? Here’s your cardio and resistance training in one incredible package.


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post and requires either General Membership (free) or a Subscription (various levels). Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. All posts are free to all members save certain posts in the My Work category. Enjoy!