Archive for the ‘Novelette’ Category

Hey, Followers of Fear! Long time no see! I’ve been busy trying to get a short story done before November 1st. And tonight, I managed to do it. Car Chasers is a short story that centers around a Fast & Furious-esque race held in a forest where ghosts chase the racers. Yeah, it’s a pretty out there concept, isn’t it? And I think it might make a great movie, even without Vin Diesel in a starring role.

I liked writing this story for a number of reasons. Along with a fun concept, it focused on a particular incident with these races, told through the point of view of an unreliable narrator. Normally, the unreliable narrators I encounter in fiction are jackasses (the main characters of Gone Girl and Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, for example), but the narrator in this story is actually telling it trying to put a good spin on a friend of his, which is different from my normal experience. I also put a few people I know in the story in varying capacities (you’re welcome, Pat Bertram and Melissa Mendel), and named the bad guy of this story after a certain person I dislike a lot right now. Yeah, I’m sadistic that way. It’s fun.

So when can you read this story? Well, it’s a first draft, and it’s going to need a lot of work. For one thing, there are some places in the story that could be fixed or trimmed down. As the story is a bit over ten-thousand words, and therefore technically a novelette, I might want to really trim it down if I want to get it into a magazine. If that doesn’t happen, I can see this in my upcoming collection of short stories, Teenage Wasteland. The characters are at the right age, so it’s a good choice for the collection.

In the meantime though, November is just around the corner. And for novelists, that means one thing: National Novel Writing Month. I’ve got the final Reborn City novel to write, and after that, I’m devoting all my time to getting that novel and Teenage Wasteland out as soon as possible.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll see you guys with a couple of posts on November 1st, when I’ll be doing another “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag, and talking about Reborn City and the final novel, Full Circle. Have a happy Halloween, guys. See you soon!

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday! And since today is Christmas, I wonder if I should a Christmas edition #FirstLineFriday or be a typical Jew and say, “Bah, humbug.” Hmm…okay, I’ll do a Christmas edition. Just as long as I still get visited by three ghosts.

Alright, for those of you who don’t know the rules of #FirstLineFriday, here they are:

  • You write a post on your own blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  • You explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  • You post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published story.
  • You ask your readers for feedback.

Like I said, I’m doing a Christmas edition. Speaking of which, can you imagine a Christmas story from me? A Jewish horror writer? God, that story would probably not just be scary, it would probably make you rethink the holiday a little.

Well, I do have an idea for a Christmas-themed novelette written down somewhere, and here’s what the opening would probably be like. Enjoy:

Rob swore that if Chrissy didn’t calm down and shut up, he was going to smack her hard enough to knock her into the New Year. And he didn’t give a damn who saw him do it.

Thoughts? Errors? Let’s discuss.

Well, that’s all for now. For all my Christian readers, I wish you a Merry Christmas. For the rest of us…at least we get a really awesome Christmas Special from Doctor Who every year, right? And the movie theaters and Chinese restaurants are open (yeah, that’s a Jewish stereotype that’s actually true), so at least we’re not stuck in the house. Oh, and it’s still very pretty around this time of year, so that’s a plus. See? There’s always a silver lining.

Anyway, have a good weekend my Followers of Fear. I hope to have some good news out this Sunday, so be on the lookout for that. Also be on the lookout for Krampus, I hear he’s punishing bad kids this year.

Until next time!

I just recently finished the second draft of “Gynoid”, a sci-fi love story novelette. During that time, I thought a lot about romance in fiction. Have you noticed that it’s everywhere? In fiction, you find a lot of time devoted to find your one true love, and in real life, you find people not just actively looking for their one true love(s), but even measuring themselves by fictional couples! Our music is rife with love songs or how love is betrayed (the so-called “Song of Songs” in the Bible is one huge erotic love song), and if you go back in time, some of our oldest stories involve love and lovers.

Heck, it’s in a lot of my fiction too! And I write fiction where “love” is more likely intense adrenaline and a shared peril being mistaken for attraction. Snake has a love story that’s central to its plot, Reborn City has a bit of romance in it here and there, and..well, you saw the description for “Gynoid” above.

But rather than speculate on why romance and finding it is such a big thing (I think we can all guess at the answer, right?), I think I’m going to share some of the trade secrets I’ve gleaned over the years from other writers and from my own romantic experience, both writing it and from experiencing it (do not ask me which I have more of. I wouldn’t want to upset anyone) on writing romance in your stories. Why? No particular reason, it’s just on my mind and in my stories so much I feel like talking about it. And I know I might not be the most qualified person to talk about the subject–I know I’m not a romance writer–but I know a bit, and since when has not being an expert ever stopped anyone from talking about anything? (*cough* climate change deniers in Congress *cough*)

So let’s begin on my tips for including romance in your stories:

  1. Give the characters personalities, make them fully-rounded and three-dimensional. I feel like often times some of our most celebrated romances involve people who are just good-looking nice folk and not much else. Romeo and Juliet were a sad emo guy with a thing for teenagers and Juliet was a teenager, Cosette and whatever her guy’s name was were good-looking and nice but they weren’t much else, and Katniss Everdeen…okay, Katniss was at least well-rounded. You knew who she was, what her problems were, what she stood for, and what she was willing to do to overcome those problems. Her love interests, on the other hand, just seemed there so as to add something to the story that the story might have done fine without. I mean, Gale is just handsome and angry with the Capitol, and I can’t tell what Peeta is besides sweet. One minute he’s skillful enough to manipulate the hearts of the whole Capitol, the next he’s too naive to tell that Katniss is using him for survival. Make him one or the other! Seriously, if you’re going to bother putting love interests in the story, I’m going to need a reason to ship either of them besides their attractiveness and professions of love.
    And that brings me to my next point:

    It took a long time, but these two became a wonder couple.

  2. What’s the reason they fall for each other? Please don’t say, “Oh, they’re good-looking”, it’s got to be more than that…or heroin-flavored blood. Take one of my favorite anime of all time, Sailor Moon (yeah, I’m a huge fan of that even so many years on. Moonies forever!): all of the main characters are good-looking. So why does Sailor Moon end up with the male lead, especially when in every adaptation of the story they start out fighting and disliking each other and in some he’s already seeing someone else? Leaving aside backstory exposition, I think they just grow comfortable with each other over time. They realize they can be honest with each other and that their faults are just part of who they are. Cute parts too. And it helps when they find out each other’s secret identities, which shows how courageous and reliable they are to one another, to the point they make a pretty good partnership, in love and in combat.
    Another example I’d like to use is Captain America and Peggy Carver in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which is my only reference point, I was never much of an American comic books reader for some reason). Heck, at the beginning of their relationship, Cap’s a scrawny guy who doesn’t seem like much of a hero, while Agent Carter is…well, Agent Carter. What forms the basis of their relationship is that Carter likes that Cap wants to help out despite all the barriers facing him, and his sweet and loyal personality, while Cap likes that she’s a unique and confident woman who doesn’t need a man and who also doesn’t look down on him for not being tall and buff. Over time and numerous battles, their relationship grows closer and they fall in love, which ultimately doesn’t end well but I’m sure that if things had gone differently, it would have been a different story.
    Speaking of which, here’s point 2a. Shared experiences, especially combat experiences, can bring a relationship closer. Unless of course you and your supposed lover work really horribly together, in which case fighting will just highlight it and you’ll fall apart at the seams.
  3. There is no point where the relationship becomes perfect. Work is involved. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about relationships in the real world, they’re always a work in progress. Why? Because we’re all works in progress, so our relationships are too. There’s going to be rough times, where the characters struggle or worry that something or someone will come along and the good thing they have going will be ruined. Back to Sailor Moon for a second. Fans agree that the heroine and her man are a strong and stable couple (though whether or not it’s a good coupling, I find people disagree on the subject more than you’d think), but they do have to work at it. Besides enemies that threaten to pull them apart for whatever reason, they have the normal couple troubles: people who seem like better matches coming along, occasional misunderstandings, an unexpected child. Heck, they even broke up for a time during the anime’s second season. Just goes to show that even great couples have ups and downs.
    And the best part is, you can extend these meetings, character explorations, falling-in-love scenes, and ups and downs over several books. In fact, half of the fun of the TV show Scandal is watching the heroine Olivia have an on-again, off-again relationship with the (married) President of the United States. You never know how that one is going to work out. And as long as you can keep it going, the more you get to explore these characters and their relationships (provided fans don’t start to get bored, of course).
    And now that we’ve discussed what makes for a relationship, let’s discuss some content.
  4. Sex is not always necessary. Yeah, I know we live in a hyper-sexualized society where everything has a sexy component to it, and I know I included a steamy sex scene in Snake, but seriously, sex isn’t always necessary. In fact, some people prefer romance stories without anything racier than a kiss or two. There’s actually an entire sub-genre of romance like that, it’s called sweet romance, where the characters don’t have sexual relations before marriage (or commitment too, maybe) and it has a big and loyal following. Besides, some authors aren’t comfortable with sex scenes. I know I wasn’t at first, though I later got more comfortable with them. So if you don’t want to do one, there’s no law saying you have to.

    Love the relationship dynamics of this show!

  5. Also, you don’t have to just have one person love only one other. I know there are a couple of Buffy fans reading this blog. One of the best parts of that show is the characters had many different relationships over the 7 seasons. Buffy herself had three major relationships over the course of the series.  The writers could’ve had her with Angel, her first love, through the whole series, but they allowed her, Angel, and many others to explore other relationships and really mature through that. Same with Teen Wolf, which had two main characters being “meant to be forever and ever”, but gradually changed things up over time. So if you want to, you can have characters wait a long time and go through several relationships before finding the right person.
    Especially with love triangles. I hear there are quite a few series out there where a good dose of fun is trying to find out who the main character will end up with in the end, especially when there’s two really great, fleshed-out characters to choose from (though usually from what I hear it’s whoever the protagonist meets first).
    And this brings me to my final point.
  6. Don’t do it because everyone else is. And no, that’s not a drug PSA (though you shouldn’t do those either. Not even weed, that stuff will mess with your system). Yeah, you see people putting all these different things in their stories–love quadrangles, the other man or woman, unexpected pregnancies, even some sexual exploration. Only put those in your story if you feel they’re what the story needs, not what others say you should put in or what others are putting into their stories. Believe me, that’s how I avoided something really unnecessary romance-related stuff in Reborn City, and that worked out great for me.

I’m going to end it right here, but I have to say, there’s a lot more that I could include in this post. Suffice to say, there are a lot of intricacies to writing romance and love stories (point number 7, a romance has a happy ending, a love story doesn’t have to. Learned that a romance writer friend of mine), and you learn these things over time. But hey, in the end they can lead to some really great stories, and maybe melt a heart or two while you’re at it.

What romance writing tips do you have? Do you feel romance is important to your stories or not so much?

I’ve just finished a new story, “Stuck in the Horror House” (not to be confused with a previous short story of mine, “Hunt in the Slaughterhouse”). I’ve been working on this story for weeks, and at one point I had to go back and start rewriting it because I was dissatisfied with the way the story was progressing. But now I’m glad that the first draft is finished. And it’s a long first draft too, 12,607 words, making it a novelette. Boy, when I have a story to tell I just don’t care about word count these days, do I?

“Stuck in the Horror House” is a story inspired by an episode of Ghost Adventures. In one episode, the GA Crew investigates a factory that has been converted into a haunted attraction, and one of the hauntings there was purported to be an actual demon, summoned by an actor there dressing up as Satan and reading verses out of an actual Satanic Bible and attacking said actor whenever he had the chance. That story stuck around with me, and so I ended up adapting it into a story. In this case though, I made the story about a bunch of teenagers who sneak into a haunted attraction during the off-season and one of them does a summoning ritual on a lark, which leads to all sorts of trouble. The protagonist of the story is telling his story to a psychiatrist, leading to questions about whether or not he’s imagined everything or if there’s truly a demon afoot.

Now, as far as first drafts go…I’ve had better ones. Even in the writing I could see places where this story can be improved in future drafts. But, like Ernest Hemingway said, most first drafts are shit. A lot of writing is revision, and that’s when the story really starts to shine and entrance. The first draft is laying down the bare bones so that they can form something extraordinary later on.

In the meantime though, I’m excited for where this story could go in future drafts. I definitely feel like with subsequent drafts it could make for a very terrifying story. Maybe it’ll even go into Teenage Wasteland, seeing as most of the main characters are 18 or 19 years old. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I’m taking a break to watch a scary movie I recently found online. I might even write a review of it later. I also would like to write a blog post or two for my other blog, From the Voice of Common Sense, and I think I’ll take the time to write an article for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors before starting another story and then working on editing Laura Horn.

Yeah, I’m busy. And that’s not even including work or searching for whatever comes after my internship is over. And the way I work, I doubt I’ll ever slow down. Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Have a great rest of your weekend!

Well, it’s taken me…jeez, over a month to write this particular story, but I finally got it done. My latest story is called “Gynoid” (yes, that is a word) and it’s a story I’ve had a wonderful time working on. “Gynoid” is a science-fiction tale about a teenage boy who orders a robot that resembles a real girl called a gynoid (like the female equivalent to android) in order to help him become experienced in having sex. What he never expects though is to end up building a relationship with his gynoid, and that’s where his real problems begin.

For me this is an unusual story because it’s straight science fiction without any horror, thriller, fantasy, or other such elements. Still, I had a lot of fun writing this one for a number of reasons, including creating a world and a culture much more advanced than ours, making up slang terms and using the story to poke fun of certain things happening in our world today. And of course, like most science fiction stories, there are several themes running throughout the story, the main one dealing with how some guys will get caught up in fantasies of that “perfect woman” and the consequences of doing so. It’s actually quite interesting.

Of course, it’s going to take a lot of work before it’s ready for publication, even if I think it’s a very good first draft. At a little over nineteen thousand words, it’s a long novelette, and there’s a lot to be improved on. I want to make sure the characters’ personalities are consistent throughout, I would like to go a bit more in-depth with the culture and slang of the story (without trying to cram a whole mythology into the story, of course), and I’d like to brush up those rough patches. Still, once that’s done and I’ve had someone look it over, I think it could be published in a sci-fi magazine. Anything’s possible.

In the meantime, I’ll let “Gynoid” lie for a while and take a break for a day or so. After the break’s over–and I say this with all the excitement in the world–I’m going to be getting back to editing Video Rage! That’s right, I’ll be getting back to working on the sequel to Reborn City after putting it aside for so long. So fans of the first book rejoice, Rami Ungar’s back on the case and he’s hoping to get the second book out some time next year. Get excited!

In the meantime, the Big Birthday Sale is going on through the rest of today and tomorrow. So if you haven’t yet, head on over to Amazon or Smashwords, where you can get marked down or even free copies of The Quiet Game, Reborn City, and Snake. It’s the perfect time to get a good book at a great price.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. If you need me, I’m on break and loving it. Have a nice day!

I might’ve mentioned this a few times on this blog and on my Facebook and Twitter pages, but I’ve been trying something new with my writing. As you probably know, I’ve been working on a couple of shorter works, a short story and what will likely turn out to be a novelette, since I finished the second draft of my thesis/novel Rose. Unlike previous shorter works, where most or all of the story has been laid out in my head and I’m just transmitting it to the page, I’ve been actually outlining these stories on paper so I have a better idea of where I’m going and to see if doing so improves the stories overall.

I decided to try this because of two things I’ve noticed with my shorter works. For one thing, I’m always worried about the final word count. Many fiction magazines only accept stories of a certain length, and I’m always worried I won’t be able to tell a compelling story within that space, so I try to wedge it in. Usually that doesn’t turn out the results I wish.

Another reason I’m trying outlining is that when I usually write shorter works, most of the story is mapped out in my head. But when I try to get the rest on the page, I sit there wondering which direction to go, how to tell the story just right. And depending on the story, this sitting and wondering can take a while before I actually figure something out and start writing.

For both of these reasons, I’m trying to outline my shorter works. The outlines themselves are just basic summaries of the events of the story, which works for me. It’s just enough information that I can work with it to write the actual story.

And the results have been very interesting. Having a clear direction of where I’m going by writing it all down beforehand not only cuts down on the time I spend on sitting wondering where to go, but having a definite idea of where I’m going makes me less anxious over the word count. It’s kind of…decompressing, in a strange way. I can just write the story as I intend it in the outline and not worry how long or short it is.

As for the stories themselves, the results have been rather mixed. For the first story Streghe, which I finished not too long ago, the outline didn’t help as much, but that was mostly because I kept going back and rewriting or changing the direction of the story. I’d like to write another outline for the second draft though, especially since I think there will be a lot that will change between the first and second drafts. We’ll just have to see what I come up with in-between drafts though and what direction I want to go with that story.

As for the story I’m working on now, a science-fiction story currently at about sixty-seven hundred words, the outline has been very helpful so far. I have a very good idea of where I’m going with the story, and in-between sessions of writing I’m able to lay out what I’m going to put down on the page next in my head, rehearsing whole scenes before I write them down. It’s been a lot of fun working on this one.

Based on what’s happened so far, I think I’ll continue to outline my shorter works along with my longer works for now. As long as it works for me, why not use it? It just goes to show that no matter what stage of your writing career you are in, you’re never too old or too late to learn a few new tricks. And boy, am I glad I learned this one.

Do you or have you ever outlined your shorter works?

What’s been the effects of doing so on your stories?

Another late night of writing, and it’s paid off. I’ve just finished my latest first draft of a story, and this one’s a whopper. Tonight we’ve got Streghe (which, by the way, is also the Italian word for witch) and is based on one of the witch mythologies we learned about in History of Witchcraft (that class is already coming in handy). Ever since I heard about the mythology, I’ve been fascinated by it, and I knew I had to incorporate it into a story. So as soon as I could, which meant right after Rose‘s second draft was done with, I started working on it.

I did a few things differently with this story. For one, I wrote an outline of events for it, even though it’s only a short story. I’m trying to see if writing outlines for shorter works makes a difference in how I write them. And it does, because even though I went back several times to change the direction of this story, I felt I had a better idea of where it was going and I wasn’t too worried about word counts this time around.

Still, that nonchalance kind of led to this story getting a bit long. In fact, it’s no longer a short story, it’s a novelette! Over ten-thousand words total. I’m not sure if I want to try and shorten it in the second draft or see about expanding it. There were definitely elements in the first draft I didn’t get to include, so I’d like to see about getting those in during the second draft. It really depends on what ideas percolate in my head between the first and second draft.

Well, it’s a good first draft, I think. And once I’ve had some time, I’ll make a (probably) better second draft. In the meantime, if I have time tomorrow I’ll start a new story that’ll most likely also be novelette length (yeah, I never stop writing) and then I’ll get back to editing Video Rage, and see if I have some ideas on how to rewrite and improve Laura Horn.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Things are just going so well for me lately. I could just dance. In fact, I think I might (and I’ll terrify everyone who sees it, which is not a problem for me).