Mar 23 2016

Fictionlet

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“Well, young Greg, do you see anything on the menu that suits you?” Isadora asked.

“Quite a bit actually,” Greg said. “The hard part is narrowing it down to a single dish.”

“Ugh,” said Brigid. “There’s not enough chocolate on this menu. I’m going straight for dessert.”

“It’s an Italian restaurant,” said Greg. “Where would you possibly put chocolate besides a caffĂ© mocha?”

“Lots of places!” said Brigid. “I mean really, eggplant parmesan? Fuck that noise. Smothered in chocolate is the only way you’d get me to eat eggplant.”

“You’ve never even had eggplant,” said Isadora.

“And nobody ever serves it smothered in chocolate,” said Brigid. “I detect a pattern.”

“Not everything is enhanced by adding chocolate,” said Greg.

“Oh yes it is,” said Brigid. “There’s nothing on this menu that wouldn’t be better with chocolate. Spaghetti? Better with chocolate. Lasagna? Better with chocolate. Garlic bread? Better with chocolate. Hell, I’d eat wasps if they were covered in chocolate.”

“Is that something you’re often called upon to do?” Greg asked.

“Well, no,” said Brigid. “But if the situation ever comes up, I know my stance on it.”

“At least you’ve got it well thought-out,” Isadora said, and quaffed some more of her wine sample.

“Shakespeare would be proud,” Greg agreed.

“To thine own chocolate, be true,” Brigid said, and began to raid the bowl of after-dinner mints.

-The Gneech

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Mar 17 2016

Fictionlet

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“Ugh, St. Patrick’s Day, what have they done to you?” said Greg, wincing in dismay at the bar they drove past. “When I was a kid St. Patrick’s Day was ‘wear something green or you get pinched.’ When did it turn into ‘virulent idiots getting drunk on green beer’?”

“When I was a kid Halloween was ‘trick or treat,'” said Brigid. “When did it turn into ‘Sexy Axe Murderer’ costumes? Everything’s been screwed up for ages now. I blame the baby boomers.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. Growing up being told everything was all about them, they believed it, and have just trashed the country and the culture.”

“Hmm,” said Greg. “Well as much as I’d love to use them as a scapegoat, those aren’t baby boomers wearing plastic leprechaun hats and getting blotto we just passed. And it’s certainly not baby boomers in the Sexy Axe Murderer costume. Not any more, at least. You may have an argument for baby boomers having made the mess, but let’s be honest, generation X isn’t exactly cleaning up after them very well.”

“When you grow up in the asylum, you don’t realize that everyone around you is insane,” said Brigid. “Generation X was screwed from the start. All we can do is try to pave the way for the millennials to un-break the world.”

“…says the woman who thinks children should neither be seen nor heard,” said Greg.

“I believe that children are the future,” Brigid said. “And they can have it.”

-The Gneech

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Mar 15 2016

Fictionlet

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Brigid stalked the edges of the party, looking like nothing so much as a panther looking for a baby rabbit to gobble down. Finally she spotted the rabbit in question, to wit Greg, who was in the center of a cluster of people, holding them spellbound as he told them some ridiculous anecdote. She instantly made her way to him.

“…and so she pulled out a lighter and said, ‘Lean down here so I can set you on fire,'” Greg was saying, as Brigid elbowed her way through the crowd.

“C’mon,” she said, grabbing his arm. “Let’s go.”

“It’s only 9:30,” Greg said.

“Yeah,” said Brigid, “which means I’ve been here a whole 45 minutes and my oath not to commit murder is wearing thin. Let’s go.”

“Fine, fine,” said Greg, and turned back to the faces eagerly hoping for more snappy stories. “Sorry, all. But She Who Must Be Obeyed speaks, and I’m the one driving the car. Good night!”

Coats retrieved, they slipped out into the night. “I do get tired of you wanting to end every party before it begins,” Greg said. “You realize these binges are my main point of contact with the outside world, right?”

“Sorry,” said Brigid, as he unlocked the door. “Work has been bad. We’ll stay longer next time, I promise.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” said Greg, as they got in the car.

“For all your time spent alone, you know how to work a crowd,” Brigid said as they pulled out into traffic.

“Well that particular crowd was not a particularly discerning bunch,” said Greg. “I’ve learned that the secret to success, is to only hang around people who are easily impressed.”

“Uh huh,” said Brigid.

-The Gneech

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Jan 08 2016

Fictionlet

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“So,” said Greg casually, “what did Zelda say when her would-be rescuer was zapped by a strength-draining ray and couldn’t pick up his sword?”

Brigid just looked at him, on the grounds that it was a no-win situation.

Greg grinned. “You are the weakest, Link!”

“Goodbye,” she said, and made for the next room.

-The Gneech

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Aug 17 2015

Fictionlet

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Greg shook his hand in the air. “Guh, you wouldn’t think stirring cookie dough would hurt so much.”

“Worry not!” said Brigid, shoving her finger into the bowl and pulling it out covered in dough and chocolate chips. “Your sacrifice shall not have been in vain!” She greedily gulped down her prize.

“You shouldn’t eat raw cookie dough!” said Greg. “You could get sick from it!”

“No I couldn’t,” said Brigid. “It’s never actually happened to anyone in the history of ever.”

“Of course it has,” said Greg. “There’s the well-known case of Silas Gunderson. In 1874, he was making cookies to comfort himself after having accidentally slashed his arm open on a sewer grate while trying to fend off the diseased rats who chewed off two of the fingers on his left hand. Took one bite of raw cookie dough, and dropped dead on the spot.”

“What?” said Brigid. “That’s stupid. Even if you hadn’t just made that up on the spot, all that would mean was that he died while eating raw cookie dough, not from eating raw cookie dough.”

“Well, yes, but still. Better safe than sorry, don’t you think?”

“No, I so don’t,” said Brigid, scooping out another dollop with a large spoon.

-The Gneech

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Aug 15 2015

The First Rule of Write Club

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For the past two weeks, when not sending off job applications, most of my time has been spent writing another novel. I had intended to hold off until November and do it as a NaNoWriMo project, but for whatever reason the book said, “NOAP, you will write me NOW!” and so I have been. As of last night, I hit 20,000-ish words at the end of chapter seven, and I’m taking a “creative recharge and look back at the progress so far break” today before attacking chapter eight.

I have to say, I am very pleased with how the book is coming along, and as far as this story is concerned, it’s about damn time. This story started out as a nugget of my Arclight Adventures comic project, then morphed into my Coventry idea, then emerged as its own thing, then got shelved, then informed the creation of Rough Housing, then got shelved again, and now has finally re-asserted itself with forcefulness that will not be denied. Verity and Tanya want their story to be told, and they want it to be told in the right way, dammit! And when characters yell at me that loudly, well, I’d be a fool not to listen. The book is coming fast, and solid, and fun, but also with a lot more depth and texture to it than I expected. As I tweeted last night, I think this is going to be my best book yet, and this is the one I finally feel is a good candidate for publication.

The revamped Brigid and Greg novel is another good candidate, actually, and I may put that into the NaNoWriMo slot if this book is finished by then. That one would probably have been finished by now if the house sale hadn’t knocked me out of my groove.

A major factor in this level-up of my writing craft has been Scrivener, which has turned building an outline/story structure from a horrendous pain into an absolute joy. For both the B&G book and the new one, I have started with five notecards:

  • Act One: Setup
  • Act Two: Conflict
  • Act Three: Rising Action
  • Act Four: Catastrophe/Falling Action
  • Act Five: Denouement

Drilling down from each of these, I put in 4-6 more notecards with major story beats. On each of the story beat notecards, I then drill down and put 3-5 short scene summaries– not even whole sentences, just things like “Brigid and Isadora argue”. That whole process takes me a few days, and by the time I’m done I have a nice and solid skeleton to start hanging my story on. From there, it’s just writing out each scene as described in the summary, usually in a 500-1,500 word chunk, of which I can write around three on a “normal” working day and more on a really good day. Just looking at the math, you can see what happens: four scenes of 1,000 words each make a 4,000 word chapter; five chapters of 4,000 words each make a 20,000 word act; four acts of 20,000 words, plus a denouement that’s probably one or two chapters tops, make an 80,000-90,000 word novel.

(Of course, nothing ever goes completely to plan. In the current story, in order to twist the emotional knife on a particular scene, I decided to elevate something that was basically speed bump in my outline into a major catastrophe, which in turn made complications that had to be coped with, but which had not been factored into the original plan. Using Scrivener, that was relatively easy to fix, basically by just shoving in some more notecards for new scenes or chapter. Since it’s just shoving little pieces around at the outlining level, it doesn’t feel like major plot surgery.)

Anyway, I think that with this book, I will actually be making the transition from perennial dabbler to true professional novelist. Not just because of the quality of this piece, but because I now feel like I have the tools and the experience to repeat the performance. I can now confidently build a novel-length story, and I know both what I want out of the process and what the process will need out of me to pull it off. And honestly, I think that when I actually finish something my writing is as good as anybody’s out there.

Building an audience, translating these books into earning a living, and all that stuff, is something else I will need to tackle, of course, as is integrating all of this with my desire to keep Suburban Jungle alive. But those are all topics for another day.

-The Gneech

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