Saturday, December 24, 2011

Grains of sand, falling


Well, it’s Christmas Eve again and, despite the late start, I’m still aiming to get a short ghost story written before midnight.

If you followed this last year, it’s the same deal.  I’ll be drawing Tarot cards and pinning them onto a simple story structure.  It sounds easy…


Card One:  The Knight of Wands (reversed)

This is a fiery and impetuous card, representing a lot of activity but also unreliability.

Of the 36 Dramatic Situations, I’ve paired this to number 30:  Ambition.  This means I’ll have to now select an ambitious protagonist, an object that is to be desired and an antagonist.  This is one of the oldest stories ever told, from Jason and the Argonauts to the “go here, get this” quests that fill computer games.  However, it’s rarely that simple…



Card Two:  The Page of Wands (Reversed)

Another energetic and pro-active card, this represents an effervescent youngster and a surge of activity.  The fire of the wands is also indicative of a selfish charm and ruthlessness of ambition.  A good card for the protagonist of this situation!  However, reversed, it signals hyperactivity and a breakdown in communication.

I’m questioning which perspective to tell the story from now.  I want this card to belong to the ghost and to have them be looking for something, but I also want to keep it in a traditional third person limited, “haunted hero” point of view.

Let’s see what the other cards say…



Card Three:  The Queen of Wands.

Considering that I’ve shuffled this deck of cards twice and it’s remained untouched since last year (when it was shuffled again), it is statistically improbable to draw three of the four court cards for the same suit.  In order.

Like the other two Wand cards, this is an active and self-centred card.  In this case, though, there is a practicality and nurturing element.  But it is the security of wealth and the drive to sustain prosperity, rather than an unconditional love.

From this I’ve decided that the coveted item will be an heirloom of the protagonist’s mother that carries as even more emotional worth than it does financial value.


Card Four:  The Six of Pentacles

Thankfully not the King of Wands, which would’ve left the story somewhat flat.

The Six of Pentacles is yet another covetous card.  Which makes it excellent for our antagonist.  It is an earth card, though, which means that they are interested in our heirloom for its financial value.  It also represents the beginnings of harmony and acting as a benefactor, so the antagonist will eventually soften to the ghost’s goals and become an ally in the resolution of the story.  This is further backed up by the fact that the card is reversed, indicating a lose.


After lunch and an unexpected trip to the shop, the writing begins…


Four hundred and forty two words and I’m still in the first act.  Less than eight and a half hours to go.  Not looking optimistic.


First thousand words done.  So far I’ve been writing with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s soundtracks to The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in the background.  Great music to keep you in a specific place without intruding into your own work.  Apart from the cover of Immigrant Song which is just epic.


First sighting of the ghost comes in at around one and a half thousand words.  I reckon I’m about a third of the way in so far.


Two thousand words in and the second act as begun.  I think it’s time to start ramping up the tension now that the “protagonist” is alone in a haunted house….


Tea has taken far long than expected.  10pm finish not looking so optimistic.  Why, oh why do I give myself these deadlines?


Although I’m about to reach the beginning of the end of the second act, a ten pm finish is still looking unlikely.  We need a lot more of our Page of Wands.

Incidentally, because I’m running out of time, her appearance will be based on an actress.  If anyone can guess who it is, I’ll dedicate the story to you.  Like me, you have until midnight.

Just realised, I’m the only one who can see this so far (maybe a plan for next year?)  So that’s Midnight Monday 26th December, and I’ll update the Scribd copy.


It’s going to be a race against the sand this year.  I’ve just turned into the third act and while midnight still looks possible, getting it formatted and up on Scribd might be a bit optimistic.



I’ve fallen at the final hurdle.  Or rather sentence.  Just as the church bells started to ring, I was in the second to last line.  I’ll finish it up, go to bed and post it some time tomorrow.

Massive disappointment and the lesson learned is:  Christmas is about family, but for one day of the year, could you please leave me alone to write?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Let Us Go In...

For once, I've managed to deliver.

Here is 'The Fog Is Rising,' a ghost story for Halloween.  Halloween doesn't actually feature, but it is pretty scary.

The Fog is Rising

I asked for suggestions and I damn near used them all.  I think there was only Owen Wilson and The Sixth Sense that didn't make the cut.

Over the last two weeks, I've got into a nice routine of writing which I intend to stick to and not only are the ideas coming in thick and fast, but they are taking shape as something useful.  I'm also making good progress on the Teratogenesis edit which looks like it will take an even twelve months to finish.

Next year is beginning to look quite macabre, too:  This story may be first in a series based on a common theme, I intend to finish a serial I started several years ago and I might even dust off something I set aside as too dark, something beginning with S...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Grinding Exceedingly Fine

That's probably the best way to describe the drafting process for Teratogenesis.  I'm pretty sure that it will take just as long to edit the first draft as it did to write the damn thing.  But progress is being made.  Slowly.

With Halloween coming up, I plan on posting a new ghost story on Scribd.  I've said it now, so I'm committed. In this case, I'm actually fairly interested in peoples input, so let me know in the comments what you're interesting in reading.

I've actually had a bit of a clean up of my Scribd account.  Everything on there is now mobile formatted and I've removed the duplicates  I'm pretty impressed with the way things are going with Scribd.  Unlike Google Docs, which seems to have been "upgraded" so that it's harder to format documents.

Some thought is being given to projects for next year.  It might include revisiting something that I've had locked away for awhile.  Something deemed so horrible, it was never to be unleashed.  Or it could be something a bit more light hearted and considerably different from everything I've put out so far.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Long Time, No See

To say that my output this year has taken a downturn would be something of an understatement.

Frankly, due to changes of circumstance, I just don't have the energy to write of an evening lately.

This has left the second draft of Teratogenesis stalled.  My short story output is dead in the water too.

There is also the fact that I was going to host the second draft of Teratogenesis on the HarperCollins Authonomy website.  But given that HarperCollins is owned by News Corporation, it's not a company I want to be generating content for.  After all, they're good enough at that themselves...

So, the hunt begins for a new home for Teratogenesis, efforts must be made to make the effort and some progress needs to come of a year that's running away from me.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Inch By Bloody Inch…

Progress is being made on the second draft of Teratogenesis.  Slow progress but progress, nonetheless.
I’ll be honest, the short story a week is dead in the water.  I’ve simply had more on my plate with other things than to churn out four thousand words every week.  Or month.
There will be more being posted on Scribd, but there is a fair amount up in the air at the minute.
I’m not even going to put a date on when Teratogenesis will be done.  I’ll do my second draft, then I’ll ask for volunteers and try the same “distributed proof-reading” they do on Project Gutenberg.  Then I might see about getting an expert in to look at the final draft.
Even with the supplementary material I’ve got planned, I think it would be too slim a text to merit a print run.  Although, fewer pages means fewer plates, which means cheaper book….  Instead, I’ll format the final draft into an e-book.  And spare the trees.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


So, today is the first of March?  What happened to February?  And wasn’t it Christmas the other week?

This year is flying by.  Maybe I was just keeping closer track of last year with the schedule I had set for the Teratogenesis updates.  Maybe it’s all an elaborate joke and everyone is moving the clocks back a minute at midnight every night.

“Escalation” was to be my watch word this year, but I suspect “consolidation” might be closer to the mark.  The Wicked Steeple, the latest, first and only new short story this year, has taken me two months to write.  Or one sixth of the entire time I’ve spent so far on Teratogenesis.

It’s taken almost exactly two months, because it’s based on a nightmare I had in the early hours of New Year’s Day.  This is third longest writing period I’ve ever spent and actually finished the piece.  The other two were my final project for university (six months) and Teratogenesis (a year.)

Why has it taken two months?  I’ve been distracted by Twin Peaks, the cat and conquering aliens (on the computer.)  I need to step up the pace.  But in the meantime, I’ll be reorganising and redrafting the other short stories on Scribd and looking at MobiPocket editions.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tempus Fugit

“…One a week for a year.  I’ll tell you now: it won’t happen…”
Well, that became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But I’ve got my excuses ready:
  • I had the actual flu for the first two weeks of this year.
  • I’ve started three short stories to make up for it.  But not actually finished any of them…
So it’s the usual case of feast and famine.  The whole point of this short story exercise is to take the more structured approach from Teratogenesis and push it further.  When the focus is undone, it all falls down.
It’s also the end of the “cooling off” I’ve imposed on Teratogenesis, so that means assembling the final manuscript.  And getting it edited.  And designing the cover….
So the first short story should be up in (Chinese) New Year and we’ll see about getting back on track.