He stands naked in a ditch.

I mentioned back in Four pieces for a workshop I’m taking an online writing course. I’m sharing the exercises from that class in that post, Two Pieces for a Workshop, and in Four (Other) Pieces for a Workshop. This post is from the last class in that series. Here we were given “He stands naked in a ditch.” as a prompt and asked to create an atmospheric flash piece/tone poem from it.

I came up with the following 54 word piece.

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Kit Reed’s “Revision”

I first read Kit Reed’s Revision (probably) four years ago. It was one of the first books I read when I decided to spend the rest of my life writing. I dogeared two pages.

I finished my second read about a week ago (as I write this). The book is a mess of dogeared pages.

It’s amazing how much more Kit Reed put into this book in four years, don’t you think?

Extra Effort Closes the Distance between You and Your Audience.

 
The entirety of the book comes down to Reed’s Rule Six: Extra Effort Closes the Distance between You and Your Audience.

Whenever you come to a moment of hesitation, unsurety, confusion, skimming, general off-ness, stop, figure out what’s not working, and fix it.

 
And Reed also provides a caution; Recognize when it’s done and let it go. There’s lots of examples of recognizing when something’s let-goable and when something isn’t. The one that hit me smack between the eyes is “Whenever you come to a moment of hesitation, unsurety, confusion, skimming, general off-ness, stop, figure out what’s not working, and fix it.”

I am training myself to do that. Too many times I’d read something and need to reread it, figure it out on the second take and decide it was okay.

NO, IT WASN’T!

Reed also offers several question lists to help you in your own revising. Early in the book Reed poses twelve questions so you can learn if you’re open to revision. Don’t know about others, I found it revealing (especially when invoking Reed’s suggestion to be strict (unforgiving) with your answers).

Another duh! list early in the book (pg 39) deals with determining if your work (and others, too, if you’re in a critique group) is ready to go out. Reed suggests writers/authors/writer-wannabes read for:

  1. Truth in action
  2. Accessibility
  3. Completeness
  4. Time scheme
  5. Point of view
  6. Length (with an eye to possible cutting)
  7. Organization
  8. And, once again, balance of showing versus telling. (Reed’s words, this, not mine)

Unsure what some of those mean? Read the book.


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Orson Scott Card’s “Characters & Viewpoint”

First and up front, I’ve never enjoyed an Orson Scott Card book. I could never get into them. They didn’t interest me. When a reviewer favorably compared my The Augmented Man to Card’s Ender’s Game, I scratched my head. Grateful, of course, and still confused.

However, Card’s Characters & Viewpoint?

Another story (forgive the pun) entirely.

Although titled “Characters & Viewpoint”, the subtitle is “How to invent, construct, and animate vivid, credible characters and choose the best eyes through which to view the events of your short story or novel.” Tear that subtitle apart and you get (or, at least I got):

  • Character
  • General story building elements
  • Story concept
  • Scenes
  • Story structure
  • POV
  • Narration

I so dog-eared this book my folded pages made it twice as thick as normal.


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!

Cymodoce (Part 3)

Cymodoce seems to be one of my best loved stories. EU actress Sabine Rossbach performed a reading of it and talks about it often (see Sabine Rossbach’s Happy Hour – 14 May 2020 Interview (wherein she waxes wonderfully about “Empty Sky”) for an example), parAbnormal published it in June 2019, there’s an ebook version and it appears in Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires.

By the way, a prominent Brit-based publisher and I have entered contract negotiations for Tales. It may not be self-published much longer. I’d suggest getting a copy now. Big changes are in the works, it seems.

 
I’ve broken the story into three parts starting with Cymodoce (Part 1) and continuing with Cymodoce (Part 2).

Creator and above level members can download the entire Tales PDF version here


Cymodoce (Part 3)

“See, everything’s fine,” said Mrs. D’Angelo.

“Cymmi mustn’t go swimming,” Jenny said and tapped Cymmi to get her attention. /NO /SWIM//UNDERSTAND/?// Cymmi turned away and pouted, her eyes on the ocean not far away. Jenny tickled her gently until Cymmi silently laughed and looked at her again. /CYMMI /NO /SWIM /PROMISE/?//

Cymmi nodded. /NO /SWIM /PROMISE//

Jenny smiled. She left the children in the D’Angelo’s care and left to walk through the village.

She walked for a few hours. Small pleasure craft and the larger lobster and fishing boats filled the Sound. The air was heavy with the mix of salt and diesel. Each wave brought the shrieks of water skiers and bluetooth boxes played too loud. She heard seagulls fighting for scraps and following the trawlers. Far beneath the gulls and music and vacationers she could hear and feel the grunting, steady engines of the trawlers laying their miles of netting or scooping lobster buoys from the sea.

She saw three small children, she guessed them to be two, three, and four — boy, girl, boy — playing dangerously close to the edge of the pier. As she approached she noticed the soiled, tattered clothing and dirty, shoeless feet and matted hair. They were sharing a can of coke and a package of twinkies. A seagull, almost the size of the smallest child, started to get bold and Jenny hurried before it hurt one of the children.

Suddenly a man appeared from one of the nearer boats and yelled. The seagull took flight and the children flinched. The man’s shoulders were hunched forward with the weight of his gut, but Jenny could tell the muscles were still strong in his arms and chest.

He looked up at her and quickly away. Jenny’s hand covered her mouth, but she didn’t know if her gasp was from stifled laughter or shock.

It was Anthony. A very different Anthony than she remembered from her other visits, certainly not the Anthony who took her to the island.

Anthony hurried his children below deck. Jenny laughed and continued her walk.

Further up the coast she became aware there were fewer boats on the Sound. Instinctively she looked up and realized the sky had darkened. It took another hour to get back to the D’Angelo’s.

Mr. D’Angelo opened the door to her. “The radio says there’s going to be a storm. There’re small craft advisories.”

Mrs. D’Angelo came downstairs. “The children had a snack of cookies and milk. They’re asleep in the guest room. My, do they talk! Their little hands like tiny butterflies, they move so fast. They’re beautiful children, Jenny. I got to love them.” She looked out the window. “You’re going to stay with us until the storm passes, Jenny. You’re not going to take those darling children out in this.”

“Of course she’s not,” said Mr. D’Angelo, offered in Jenny’s behalf. “She going to stay right here, you silly old woman.”

Jenny laughed.

The weather reports were right. There was a storm. A fierce storm. A typical coastal storm, quickly in and quickly out. They could see the crests of the waves from the store. The wind and rain slammed down the street. The lights along the coast went out. Jenny and the D’Angelo’s sat down and had some tea heated on a Coleman stove. Jenny picked up a book. They all turned when a tiny foot stamped.


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!

Cymodoce (Part 2)

Cymodoce seems to be one of my best loved stories. EU actress Sabine Rossbach performed a reading of it and talks about it often (see Sabine Rossbach’s Happy Hour – 14 May 2020 Interview (wherein she waxes wonderfully about “Empty Sky”) for an example), parAbnormal published it in June 2019, there’s an ebook version and it appears in Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires.

By the way, a prominent Brit-based publisher and I have entered contract negotiations for Tales. It may not be self-published much longer. I’d suggest getting a copy now. Big changes are in the works, it seems.

 
I’ve broken the story into three parts starting with Cymodoce (Part 1).

Creator and above level members can download the entire Tales PDF version here


Cymodoce (Part 2)

Jenny returned to the cottage to finish her last book. She had two hundred pages to go. That would finish the day. Tomorrow, she would close up the cottage and head back to New York, back to the silent security of teaching Drama to the Deaf.

The sun was strong and Jenny realized she hadn’t even bothered to get a tan so she put on a baggy pair of shorts, a bathing top, sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat, shoved an apple and penknife in her pocket, grabbed her book and wheeled a beach lounger outside. With one hundred pages left, she heard something. It sounded like the clacking of lobster buoys adrift in the shallows. Sounds didn’t make her nervous, but she knew every sound the cottage, the island and the ocean could make. This wasn’t one of them. Either someone was playing a joke or someone was hurt. She wasn’t sure if the locals could be that immature, but she wouldn’t put it past them. Twenty-five pages later she heard it again.

The sound came off and on with the wind. Unsure what it was, she investigated.

It stopped as she neared the dock.

“Hello?”

There was nothing there. No signs of any craft except Jenny’s own securely moored boat. She started back up the path and it started again.

There was a man lying among the rocks on the shore.

She walked towards him. “Are you all right?”

His naked body was cut and bruised in several places. Parts of a nylon fishing net cut into his flesh. The wounds had festered. His legs were bound in various lines. He rolled onto his stomach as she neared. His back was blistered from the sun.

“My God, what happened to you?”


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!