Story Critique: The Peril of the Purloined Powers, part 1!

I had fun with my Batman fan fiction (His Biggest Fan is finished, just needs a little editing). So I decided to write more fanfic. I can actually sell the story whose start I post below because the character I use is public domain. (I am working on The Comic Book Code novel also, stop hounding me! Well, someone could start hounding me and then stop.)

I took the start of my upcoming story, The Peril of the Purloined Powers, to my critique group last Saturday. I added their comments in [bold and in brackets]. I did not put my edits into the story posted here, but I did edit my original copy accordingly. Any of my blog readers are welcome to comment as well. I should mention that I value feedback from writers above all others.

SUPER HOLLY HANSSON IN: THE PERIL OF THE PURLOINED POWERS!

SHHHTHOOOOK! Again, the ear-popping sound of the dimensional portal spitting me out like a bad oyster [nice]. Sunny sky and buildings and streets kaleidoscoped around me like I was in a blender. [smiley face, nice image]

KERWHUMP!!! Again, I smacked hard on Terra Firma. I could take it, being super-strong, but I was gonna tell my super-intelligent boyfriend that I wanted softer landings.

Fifty feet directly above me in the bright sunny sky was a whirling multi-colored disk of light. I did not have to crane my neck to see it, since I was flat on my back. I thought a farewell as it vanished: See you in a week. [?]

Time to get my bearings. I tapped the FIND MOMMY app on my e-bracelet [throw-away—you’ve dropped this and left it without reaction to whatever it’s supposed to do] and stood up in the foot-deep crater I’d gouged into the dirt-paved [oxymoron?] road. The air was warm, dry, and dusty. Horses pulled carriages with a CLOP CLOP CLOP. Brick and mortar buildings lining the street were grey and sepia, like when TV shows show the audience, [perceptive] See, it’s the past, because everything is sepia! If it was the future, everything would be chrome!

[paragraph is good imagery and description] Dozens of sidewalk pedestrians ogled me. Their clothes were right out of Victorian London: brown tweedy suits and ties, itchy-looking shirts, suspenders, bowler hats, vests, and how did that woman stand wearing a hoop skirt that could house a family of four? One older man with a handlebar mustache craned his head toward me, his monocle popped out, and he blurted, “Aye, there, missy, yew’re showin’ way more ankle than is propah!” [He’s rich, so not the right accent or vocals.] A dozen dirty and ragged street kids pointed at me and laughed: “HAW HAW HAW, th’ circus is in town!” One mouth-breathing man’s eyes bugged at me until his girlfriend hooked his arm and yanked him down the street: “Come along, ‘erbert, and put yer bloomin’ eyes back in yer ‘ead!”

[over the top descriptions really work] Wow, those English accents would launch Henry Higgins’ head into orbit. My clothes were right out of a comic book: blue supersuit and red cape, why dress to blend in when I had no idea what parallel world I was going to visit? I guessed these people had never seen superheroine legs before, but at least they didn’t mention—

“WHEE-EEE-EEE-EEE!!! PUH PUH, P-P-PUHHHH!!!” Horse spittle splattered the side of my face, YUCK! I turned to face a snorting, snuffling, head-shaking beast that made a Clydesdale look like a pony. I stepped back, although that beast could not hurt my stronger-than-steel body. That horse was hitched to a wheeled giant safe of a carriage.

“Aye, yew or!” A gurgly gravelly bellow. I’d always felt horses had dinosaur brains, and the driver atop that carriage was a match for his steed: [good description] tall and wide, fatty muscle burly, bulbous broken nose, sweaty greasy face looking to do a beat-down to end all beat-downs. “Git yer balloony bosom offa dah street! I gotta delivery, YEW OR!” [Do they all have the same accent? Accents are all over the place. This guy sounds like a pirate and miner 49er. (the funniest comment yet! I did edit the accents, but I still kept some Cockney. And I love writing phonetically, but it must be done carefully, it can get out of control fast.)]

GRR, why does sexism have to spill into every dimension? And ‘or’ what— HEY! My blood boiled in a nanosecond! Steam blasted out my nose! I put my hands on my hips and bellowed back at the bully, “Take that back, you frickin’ frakin’ pile of rancid Yorkshire pudding!”

The driver’s face flushed red. Spittle flew from his big fat mouth: “Stomp ‘er, Nessie!”

“WHINNNYYY!!! PUH PUH PUH!!!” The horse reared up and bashed its hooves on me. That didn’t budge or hurt someone who could juggle army tanks, but it was annoying [cute!]. “Quit it, you dumb brute— GLUK!” BLEH, hoof in mouth!SPIT, SPLUT, what have you been stepping in?” STOMP, KICK, STOMP STOMP! “I said, QUIT IT!” STOMP, KICK KICK! “Okay, I warned you!” Screw PETA, I wound up my right-hook, and POW!

WHUMP! Just like in Blazing Saddles, the horse hit the street like a ton of horseburger. The driver scrambled off of his coach and to his unconscious engine. “OY! Giddup, Nessie! GIDDUP!” He kicked it. “OWWWWW!!!”

I thought about clobbering the thug who was hopping on one foot, but his attempt to waken his equestrian elephant had put more pain into him than I cared to inflict.

Men in old-time police uniforms and English Bobby helmets (right down to the front-and-center helmet badges) swarmed about me and the carriage. “Ello, ello, ello! Whut’s all this, then?”

One Bobby took a hard look at the carriage driver. “Aye, ‘arry! Stomping ladies ain’t legal!”

Another Bobby put his reassuring hand on my shoulder. I was happy to see his eyes firmly upon mine, his mind was all-business. “Are yew all right, Missy?”

I grasped his hand on my shoulder and turned that into a handshake. “I’m fine, thank you. Need any help?”

The Bobbies near the carriage were not doing so fine. “Oy! The door’s locked up tight!” “It’s thick steel!” “Whut contraband you draggin’ today, ‘arry?”

The thug’s thick lips curled as the Bobbies handcuffed him. “Nunna yer business.”

Well, as long as I was here… I walked over and gave the carriage door a yank. It flew off its hinges. I smiled at the Bobbies. “Remember, just what’s in plain sight.”

Bobbies scrambled inside. “We ‘it the jackpot!”

The Bobby whose hand I had shaken put his hands on his belly and laughed loud. “HAW HAW HAW!!! Inspector Lestrade will want to see yew!”

LESTRADE? I gawked at the street sign. BAKER STREET? I grabbed the Bobby’s shoulders. “Yes, I promise I’ll see him, I will I will! But…” I spotted a number on one of the buildings. The 200 block! YES! “I just gotta see HIM!”

With a slight frown, the Bobby followed my anxious eyes down the street. “Oh. ‘im. ‘E works with Lestrade sometimes. Run along, but see Lestrade soon.”

“Thanks!” My cape fluttered as I ran down the street and past gawkers! 201, a flower shop… 209, a bakery… 215, an accountant office… THERE! 221 Baker Street!

I twisted the doorknob, yanked the door open, strode inside, and slammed the door behind me: WHAMMMM!!!

Oops. I checked the door. No damage. I had to remember that the 18th century might be fragile. I looked up the stairway. I stepped once, twice, thrice… I CAN’T WAIT! I literally flew up the stairs, made sure to land gently, and knocked on the door emblazoned with a “B.”

An intellectual voice, perfect diction, sounded SO MUCH like Jeremy Britt! “Watson! Kindly open the door for the tall young woman with super-strength and the power of flight, and who works with law enforcement!”

The door opened to reveal, just like in A Study in Scarlett, a thirtyish man of the medical type, but the air of a military man. The apartment behind him was littered with chemistry tubes, stacks of books, and a bullet hole in the sofa. His eyes widened as he grinned at me. “My, my! Come in, young lady! You are?”

I strode in, grasped his hand, and pumped it. “Super Holly Hansson! Doctor John Watson, I presume? I’m a huge fan of…” I adjusted my thoughts to the proper author, Watson was real here! “YOUR writing!”

Watson patted my hand. “Thank you. But I suspect I am not the one you came to see. Holmes?”

The sight of Sherlock Holmes standing by a window and bathed in sunlight triple-somersaulted my fangirl heart! He scrutinized the street like a cat looking to pounce upon a crime. He had a couple of inches over my six-foot-one, but he was so lean that he seemed even taller. He turned and scanned me, his sharp eyes not at all unkind. His thin nose was bird-of-prey beaky, like mine. His hair, what showed under his deerstalker hat [why is he wearing a hat indoors?], was perfectly trimmed. He wore a long overcoat and comfy-looking shoes. His heroic chin was resolutely square. Basil Rathbone? Jeremy Britt? No, THE Sherlock Holmes nodded at me! “How may I help you?”

I wished I had a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles that he and Watson could sign! But I’d love this: “Please, Mr. Holmes, tell me how you deduced all that about me!”

[Change to make the dialog more Holmesian.] Holmes chuckled to himself a moment. “Watson and I were observing the armored carriage from this window, when we glimpsed a disk of light in the sky from which you shot like a cannonball into the street. Then you stood up and casually brushed yourself off. Watson’s professional diagnosis was that you must be strong as steel. [show don’t tell] I heartily [Holmes usually doesn’t use felling words] agreed. Then you pulled the door off that armored carriage. [expand this, it’s interesting] The instinct of a civilian would be to step back and let the police do their business, but you helped them as though you were on the job. Then [then circled] you ran toward my address. The downstairs door slammed brutally. Then [then circled] a moment of silence, as though someone regretted overuse of strength. Then [then circled] three footsteps, then a pause of one second, then a knock upon my door. There are precisely seventeen steps leading up to my flat. Barring [would he use that word?] a superhuman leap up the staircase that would have resulted in a thud near my door, which did not occur, I theorize that in addition to your power of strength, you also have the power of flight. If you will indulge me?” [circled indulge, but I’m keeping it.]

I levitated a few inches off the floor. “How’s this?”

Watson clapped and laughed. “Bravo, Holmes!”

Holmes waved his hand dismissively. “Elementary, my dear Watson. My dear Holly, your trip through that other-worldly gateway must have been disorienting, or you would have attempted a softer landing.”

I landed on the hardwood floor and giggled. “You would not believe how dizzying dimension-hopping is, thank god I didn’t smash anyone on impact— HUH?!?!” My jaw dropped. “How did you guess that?”

Holmes’ eyes gleamed with steely impatience. [too easy] “I never guess. That gold band on your left wrist that projects an image of a woman twice your age? Your boots and hip purse, made of shiny tough substances neither cloth nor leather? Technologies too advanced for this world. Watson, the disk of light from which Holly fell, what did you observe on its other side?”

Watson’s eyebrows shot up and his eyes widened, giving his normally intelligent face an uncomfortable resemblance to Nigel Bruce. “Why, nothing!”

Holmes raised a long finger in triumph. “Quite so! But surely Holly came from somewhere. My friend Professor Challenger gave a lecture last year on the possibility of parallel worlds. I read his research.” His gaze intensified on me like an analytical cobra. “Fascinating.”

I was grinning like a schoolgirl with a crush on teacher. “Yes. You’re a fictional character in my world. But you are still called the world’s greatest detective.” I looked at the hologram above my e-bracelet and swallowed a lump in my throat. “Holmes, can you help me find my mommy?”

TO BE CONTINUED!

[Very enjoyable. Now I know how important it is to know all the characters in a fan fiction. You had eliminated a lot of the sound / noise and that made it easier for me to understand the plot.] (I think this means the sound effects I toss in, like POW and SKAPLATT and BTT-KER-THOOOM!!! I intend to keep them in my stories, but I agree they should be spices, not the main course.)

[From our fearless leader, who has read a lot of Holly stories: I think it is well-written, but admittedly the first-person POV (point-of-view) is throwing me, mostly because it is not as smooth as the normal narrator you have.] (I will still try for first-person in this story. I usually try for close third POV, but since Conan Doyle always wrote Watson in first person, I would like to do Holly that way as well for this story. I wrote one other Holly story in first person some years ago, and it worked well enough. I will see how the story goes, I can alway rewrite if need be.)

 

Fault Zone Uplift: My latest published Super Holly story

My short story, What Goes Up, is published in Fault Zone, a publication of the SF Peninsula branch of the California Writers Club. Super Holly Hansson saves the day several times in one day, but finds something she cannot save. I give many thanks to Laurel Anne Hill, who worked super-hard to put together this anthology, and who edited my writing into a story worthy of Fault Zone. Writers, editors are your friends.

Here is the start of “What Goes Up.”

The six-foot-tall, apricot-shaped computer on the auditorium stage glowed brighter. Was the thing about to go KA-BOOM, like old sci-fi mechanical brains computing love to the last digit? Super Holly Hansson gritted her teeth harder, tapped the console’s keyboard, and motioned toward Chris Jobz, the Apricot Computer CEO.

“Would you please hand me your tablet,” Holly said, “and get your butt behind the blast shields with your employees?” Too bad she couldn’t pitch that big yellow- orangish monster into the ocean. Too dangerous, according to Chris. “You’re not bomb- proof. I am.” So far… She swallowed hard.

Chris glanced in the direction of his staff, yet made no move to give Holly his tablet, as if he thought his lint-free black turtleneck was a supersuit. Arrogant but brave. He acted as if she could still channel superpowers into others, like she’d done to those comic book geeks months ago. She couldn’t do that anymore. Not even for a fellow geek.

“Miss Hansson, you need both hands and my help.” Chris shoved his Apricot tablet closer to Holly’s face. “You’re not an engineer.”

“I was a technical writer,” Holly said, “and this geek girl can read code.” But could she get through this in one piece? All those kids in the hospital would be so sad if she didn’t show up today. She typed faster, restraining her super-strength. Last year she’d

pulverized her favorite wireless keyboard. The shining apricot’s timer taunted her: 01:29, 01:28, 01:27…

“I know women can code. Forty percent of Apricot engineers are female,” Chris said. His eyes shot virtual daggers toward the smiling teen boy his employees restrained. “But if you don’t finish writing this Swoop code before that timer reaches zero, this Apricot will destroy the Internet.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Holly hissed as her fingertips tingled. “I suppose it was that kid’s bright idea to build a doomsday Apricot with a super-scalding keyboard.”

“Yes. Me. Crestley Smusher, to you.” The teen’s voice was nerdy, gleeful, and dripping with condescension. “It was a science project to put my highly intelligent, brightly smiling face upon every display on the planet. Upon the exact second of my eighteenth birthday, less than a minute from now. Except my superior code merged with inferior code from lesser engineers to form a nasty virus—”

“Shut up, Crestley,” Holly and Chris shouted. Holly tapped out the last line of code and turned. Behind thick, clear, plastic bomb shields, several angry Apricot geeks held Crestley’s arms. A six-foot-six and rather wide engineer got a stranglehold on the techie, whose smug smirk vanished. Speaking of vanishing, how much time had elapsed?

…00:03, 00:02, 00:01… The timer stopped. Just like on Stellar Trek, where the countdown always stopped at one. Whew! She’d done it.

Chris examined the Apricot’s display. “The Internet is saved.” He shook Holly’s hand. “Thank you.”

Such firm fingers he had, like a writer. “You’re welcome.”

“Auto destruct in fifteen seconds,” the monster Apricot voiced in a monotone. “Fourteen. Thirteen.”

“What the hell?” Chris sputtered. He and Holly whirled to face Crestley. Crestley smirked again. “All doomsday devices need a failsafe.”
“Nine. Eight.”
A failsafe? Time for Holly’s own brand of mind over matter. Crap. This was

gonna hurt. She reached out. A telekinetic hand—big, blue and transparent—shot from her own flesh-and-blood hand and engulfed the Apricot monster.

“Seven. Six.”

She punched her free fist upward. A telekinetic fist cannonballed out of it and bashed a hole in the ceiling.

“Five. Four.”
She flew through the roof and into the bright blue sky.
“Three.”
The Apricot campus shrank below her.
“Two.”
She held the doomsday Apricot in her telekinetic hand.
“One.”
Damn all arrogant nerds. Well, not all.
“Zero.”
KA-BOOOOOOM!

TO BE CONTINUED!

His Biggest Fan!

Holly and Angry BatmanI have written the 7th draft of a short story that I will submit to the California Writers Club, Redwood Branch for their Fan Fiction contest. A story I have always wanted to write: Super Holly is zapped into the DC Universe and meets her first big crush: Batman. I had to write tight to stuff it into 1500 words. Printing it a few times and crossing out and editing with pencil/pen helped me cut it down to size. Tomorrow I send it in, after I read it aloud to find last edits.

P.S. I had not expected the Joker to take over the villain role. He did. He can be pushy.

Angry Batman art by Chloe Dalquist of theangrybatman.tumblr.com.

My video Blab with writing coach Beth Barany!

beth-baranyI joined a chat on Blab with Beth Barany. She asked for guests to join the video, so I joined. If you want to find out what I sound and look like, (and get good editing advice from Beth), click the URL link below. I show up about 13 minutes into the video. The subject was editing your own writing.

https://blab.im/b55de0e0d104414aa05aa8bc2de7adc6

Beth had good advice. She is a writing coach, after all. She suggests reading the story you are editing in a different format, such as on a Kindle or on paper. Or reading it out loud. Also, we writers write for ourselves, but we edit for our readers. Oh, yes, that is so true!

P.S. Harrumph, I could not embed the Blab video into my blog, but you can click the link above.

Sad Puppies? Or Eye of Argon?

Sometimes bad writing inspires me with the thought, “I can do better than THAT!” Not this time.

This year’s Hugo awards (the People’s Choice awards for science fiction) have been swamped by the sad puppies and the rabid puppies. You can check the awfulness of the short story nominees in this blog post by Andrew Hickey.

I work hard on my short stories. I craft, edit, chop up, reassemble. And then a short story with a paragraph like this gets nominated for a Hugo this year.

“Eight point nine decaseconds later, the Hermes-class corvette ATSV Swiftsure rolls onto its belly and opens fire with twin 100 mm projectile cannons at a range of ninety kilometers from its closest companion. At such range the hyper-accelerated bolts of metal shred the second ship’s hull. The second ship returns fire with a set of 12 cm lasers that cut perfectly straight swathes of armor plating from Swiftsure. Atmospheric gases spray out of the violated hull in glittering white streams.”

This sounds awfully familiar … oh yes, the worst story ever written, The Eye of Argon!

“He has slept three times and had been fed five times since his awakening in the crypt. However, when the actions of the body are restricted its needs are also affected. The need for nourishmnet and slumber are directly proportional to the functions the body has performed, meaning that when free and active Grignr may become hungry every six hours and witness the desire for sleep every fifteen hours, whereas in his present condition he may encounter the need for food every ten hours, and the want for rest every twenty hours.”

At least the Eye of Argon was consistent about spelling out numbers. Although it violates hulls in a slightly grander fashion.

“The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.”

There’s more. The same supposedly Hugo-worthy short story has this sentence. So much wrong in so little space.

“Disabling an enemy warship is not enough; they must be crippled, damaged, destroyed.”

I’m jerked from singular to plural. My sense of opposites is assaulted: in this context, disabled is a synonym for crippled and damaged. I offer this rewrite.

“Disabling an enemy warship is not enough; it must be destroyed.”

Simple, short, and direct. Even a Dalek would smile at that. As for these puppy stories, I urge a vote of no award. In other words …

dalek-exterminate

A Literary Editor Reviews My Stories

I sent the prologue (I call it Chapter Zero) of my novel, and two short stories to Zymbol editor Anne James for editing. I got this as a reward for contributing to an Indiegogo campaign last year. Yeah, took me a while to send them off, I did several rewrites.

(By the way, Zymbol is doing a Kickstarter campaign ending April 27. There are no editing perks this time. But there is Clive Barker stuff! Check it out.)

SHE REALLY MADE MY DAY.

“I’m going to skip over the red pen and focus on the main areas in terms of content editing, because I can see that you’re a highly skilled writer and you don’t need any pointers in terms of proofreading!”

“The stories open in the middle of the action, which captures your reader’s attention. “Chapter Zero” is particularly effective at this, starting with an intriguing bit of dialogue: ‘Your comic book made me cry.’” (That was Katsuko “Kittygirl” Kimura.) Open with action is good advice to any author, NEVER have boring look-at-the-horizon scenes, I hate when movies do that! I did not open in the middle of a slam-bang super-heroic fight. Maybe I’ll try that sometime. Could be fun.

“Technically speaking, your writing is excellent – the sentences flow well, and I don’t have any difficulties with grammar or the usual careless errors I see in most manuscripts. You’re an attentive editor of your own writing — that’s a great skill!”

“The witty banter between characters is genuinely amusing and true-to-character. You really get a sense of who these people are from their speech.”

“Your supporting characters are truly charming. Katsuko and her mother in particular were memorable; I hope they pop up again in other stories. The description of Katsuko’s costume and her giddy excitement were easy to visualize.”

SHE GAVE USEFUL ADVICE.

She wondered what draws Holly to Cal. Answer: the novel brings them together, and they fall head-over-heels in love. Maybe I can emphasize that more in the short stories.

She was disappointed that Chapter Zero did not show where Holly’s powers came from. That was intentional; it is revealed during the scene where Dan Mann and Cal Critbert want discuss the mystery of this superpower about to be channeled into the world, and Holly says they are NOT condescendingly explaining that to her, she already knows it (more than she likes)!

She pointed out I did not explain enough about why Holly and Cal are headed to the Apricot computer center to stop the theft of the A-phone. “The reader doesn’t feel too anxious for Holly and Cal to prevail if they don’t know what evil deed the Karate Queen is trying to perpetrate.” I agree, and I can have some fun by pumping up how important the A-phone could be. Also, when John Glutt enters the scene in Chapter Zero, “Can you show us more of the room? What does it look like once he shoots the web?” She’s right, this is a chance to describe a comic book shop, to geek it up!

Okay, I will not break the fourth wall! My smart nieces also said that joke does not work. She also said I could use fewer sound effects, “a peppering of sound effects gets across the comic book atmosphere.” I will still use some, like Stan Lee and Don Martin.

My time shifts and first-to-third person shifts in the barber story threw her off. So I will change the first to third person. I try to write mostly in close third: get deep into the head of the point-of-view character without saying “I”. I’ll keep the time shifts, removing them would be too much of an overhaul, and I have more stories to write.

She wondered about Holly’s powers, “Do they reveal something about her personality?” Yes. Holly gets the all-time biggest superpower of all (along with flight and super-strength/toughness): super-strong telekinesis. Remember The Great and Powerful Turtle for the Wild Cards series? Holly will be the Superman of her world, and she gets the biggest power of all. Holly hates bullies in any form.

SHE ASKED WHERE MY STORIES WILL GO.

She said Zymbol would not be the right fit for my stories. I agree. I have planned to go the Kindle self-publish path. But I will also look for other paths, maybe in the comic book geek crowd, or young female crowd, or fantasy/sci-fi. “Have you given thought to your ideal reader? Who is Holly really written for?” I never wrote for demographics, but I think Holly can find her audience.

THANK YOU, ANNE.

She gave more advice, too much to list here. I will use it.

I am working on a new story due by the end of the month (Fault Zone again). It will be about a week before I implement her comments. I wish I could run more stories past her, but for now, I am pinching pennies. I think I will send my Kittygirl story her way when I give it one more polish, strictly for her enjoyment. Anne liked Katsuko and her mom, and they show up again.

Two Complete Stories!

I just posted two complete stories under the Upcoming Stories menu. I intend to have them edited, and I will touch them up. Feedback is welcome: tell me what you like, tell me what you don’t like. But most of all, read and enjoy.

Super Bad Hair Day!

The Poet and the Superspainer!

Author Dave vs. Story Bloat!

Holly’s super bad hair day story is way overdue for Kindle. And yet, I could not bring myself to push it out. Why?

It was fat. Bloated. Almost 7000 words! During the holidays, my nieces read my 1500 words Super Holly vs The Wicked Word Witch story. (These girls are smart, voracious readers.) They laughed. They liked it. Then my older niece read part of the bad hair day, and she pointed out bugs, and thought the ending was strange, and she once said, “Ew.”

In my opinion, the biggest bug is the bad hair day story got way too BIG over many months. Today, I re-outlined it from 13 action beats to 9. Then I cut, pasted, and edited. I cut out a lot:

  • Bennie the Rubber Cop (based on Law & Order’s Lennie Briscoe, who deserves a full story and should not compete with Lash the barber in this story).
  • The singing. That did not work. I could feel that as my older niece read.
  • The super comb. Too much of a god-in-the-machine thing. I substituted a wire brush and big scissors.
  • Probably I’ll cut the shampooing scene, but I still want to mention Holly’s love of strawberry shampoo.

I hope to be way under 5000 words when I am done. Small enough that I can pad this story out with another short story. I have several in the works. I want my short stories to be quick and fun, like gobbling a candy bar. Or in my case, two at a time for a buck?

I thought of story bloat after I saw the third installment of The Hobbit on New Year’s Eve. I liked it, but so much stuff was added to the original story! Sure, I like more of that cool and grand Christopher Lee! But it took Thorin FOREVER to change his mind, and what was with his silly hallucination stuff?

I also thought of Harlan Ellison: “To say more is to say less.” And Elmore Leonard: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”

I thought of story bloat before today. I got serious about it today. I made good progress, and I should have a tighter and happier story when I am done. It can feel good to cut.

P.S. I agree with my friend Frank about the Hobbit part 3: the battle scenes were consuming (if a bit long), Smaug was fearsome, and anxiety was high. I will want Holly and Cal to fight dragons in a later novel. Smaug was not bloated, he was huge in the book. My dragons will need to be small enough that when they swallow a man (or a superheroine, hint hint) you can see the lump go down its gullet, yet large enough that you can saddle and ride one, and if you are fishing around for a body in the dragon’s digestive-juice-filled belly (with an air pocket at the top), it will take several scary moments to find the body. Yeah, I am writing ahead again, but this will be a GREAT scene.

P.P.S. When I said today, I meant January 1.

Samples are puny, how about WHOLE stories?

I only have little samples of my short stories on this website. I am thinking of putting entire stories, and maybe I could get some feedback. I have followers. Maybe some fellow bloggers/writers would like to read and comment on my stories. (And maybe I could seek out theirs?)

I could keep them on my site until I deem them ready to publish on Kindle and Smashwords. Frankly, the barber story is WAY overdue for publishing!

Andy Weir (The Martian) did this. It worked for him. So expect some whole stories soon to replace the samples I have now.

In the meantime, have a great Christmas (or whatever your equivalent is).

Final draft!

Final as in no more major revisions, just editing to sharpen it up. I sent the story to my friend, fellow writer/poet, and black belt in karate Tina Gibson. I admit that already, after sleeping on it, I feel like it needs more editing.

I cut out Cal. He was not needed in this story. Don’t tell Holly or she might get mad at me for breaking up that date. And the story is starting in the comics shop again. The theme of reading comic books.

So here is the start of the story again!

SURFVILLE, CALIFORNIA. THE GEEK GUY’S COMICS AND COFFEE CORNER. EARLY SEPTEMBER. A WEDNESDAY. 5:52 P.M.

When Batgirl delivered a flying kick to a meaty thug’s mug and quipped, “Bykn hijfdkh stbbbb NARFFF,” I suspected a bad print run. When I opened the next comic book in my stash, where Power Girl said to an guy ogling her super-bosom, “Tb oxow rrr lup rrhg,” I wondered if I was having a stroke at twenty five. But when the store’s clientele told the Geek Guy that they did not want the coffee bar menu written in Klingon, I knew that more than my word balloons had popped.

On the wall mounted television, a panicky anchorman babbled: “This is an emergency news bulletin! Reading in Surfville is impossible! All words are gibberish!”

A guy stared harder at his copy of Chain-Mail Bikini Sword-Babe. “Hey! He’s right!”

The anchorman’s hairdo looked about to undo. “This just in! Thousands of townspeople are zombie-shuffling toward Surfville High School!” He blinked hard. “Oh, the humanity! I can’t read my teleprompter! How can I tell Surfville to stay classy now?”

The Geek Guy closed his cash register. He smiled at me. “So Holly. Time to up, up, and punch out illiteracy?”

I pulled my blue supersuit and red cape out of my yellow hip purse. “Yeah. But can I leave my Batman T-shirt and jeans at the cash register?”

All the fanboys turned to me. As if they did not do that already to the six-foot-one blonde Power Girl lookalike.

I glared at them. “I’m changing in the bathroom.”