Ring the Bells – Short Story Workshop 7



When I first moved to Colorado Springs, we lived right smack downtown. I was often in my kitchen at noon (feeding the toddler) when the bells in all the surrounding churches started. It was like being caught in the middle of a storm of sound, and it left you a little dizzy afterwards, as if you still heard bells that were no longer sounding.

This is exactly what you want to do with a short story.

Oh, a novel too, mind you. But the tools and the implements of making people continue to dream upon your novel are different than the tools that make a short story unforgettable.

I learned early, mostly because I was a child full of iniquity, that the most important parts of a short story were the beginning and the end.

People will tell you that every little bit of a short story, ever sentence, every punctuation mark, has to be absolutely perfect.

Don’t listen to them.

Provided you’re not so bad that you actually lose people in the middle, you can have quite a few little sins there. Extra words, bits just for fun. In fact, cleaning a short too much can kill it and turn it into a lifeless “recital piece.”

BUT your beginning and your end have to be flawless in their form and function.

The beginning has to hook. That means you have to open with a zinger. Don’t give me long reminiscences about poor uncle Albert’s lost teeth. No, start with a punch. “I have no teeth and I must eat steak.” Okay, not one of your great lines of literature, but better than, “We noticed that uncle Albert had lost his teeth in the spring of seventy nine.” That line, unless followed up by “That was the year the wild chickens laid waste to (and upon) the western states. The yolk was on us.” Is going to put people to sleep. In fact, I yawned while writing it.

To be serious, the beginning has to catch you and hold you. I don’t think I ever wrote a better beginning line than “Dying is easy. It’s staying alive afterwards that’s difficult.” However, there have been better lines than mine, of course.

Unfortunately, because what I read mostly are novels, that’s what comes to mind first.

It was a pleasure to burn.

All my life I’ve wanted to go to Earth.

It was a warm night when a fist knocked at the door so hard the hinges bent.

This is the Discworld, which travels through space on the back of four elephants which themselves stand on the shell of Great A’Tuin, the sky turtle.

On one otherwise normal Tuedsay evening, I had the chance to live the American dream. I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteenth-story window.

The difference is this. In a novel, you might have a page or so to get going. In a short story, you need to hook us RIGHT from the beginning and drag us in, kicking and screaming.

Once you’ve hooked us, and we know we’re going to read about these characters come heck or high water, you can relax a little. Not to the point the reader asks what he’s doing there, but just a little. You can get playful and make it fun.

But after the climax, when you’re bringing the reader back to his upright and locked position, you need to do something more: you need to give them something to remember you by.

In novels, this is often the world or the character, or something else that gets them dreaming. How many kids dreamed of going to Hogwarts with Harry? How many of us have flown dragons on Pern in our dreams?

I’m not saying that’s impossible with a short story. It’s just that short stories are normally too small to contain that type of world building/character/adventure.

What you’re left with, therefore is concentrated emotion or idea, or preferably both.

By the time you hit the last few lines of your stories, you should have some idea what the idea or emotion you’re trying to convey is. If you don’t, figure it out, and then tie it all together.

A good last line – A Rose for Emily – can turn an entire story on its head, but a last line doesn’t need to be surprising to be good.

I was looking for examples on my semi-packed shelves, and of course can’t find any, but I shouldn’t have to. A short story’s final lines should be GOOD. Either poetic or action, or whatever the tone of the short is should be reinforced, tied together, preferably in a way that will keep the reader thinking.

Find the most powerful thought in your story, then craft a line that makes it ring like a bell in the reader’s heads after the story is over. It doesn’t need to be a surprise. It just needs to tie it all together.

Okay, some practice might be needed. I’m still practicing. But sometimes it works.

And when it works it’s like standing in my kitchen, with phantom bells ringing in my ears, long after the sound has ceased.

Next week, Fiddle, Twiddle and Revise.


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Some links and a few thoughts

Sorry, guys, but the brain isn’t working this morning. So instead of a regular post, I’m going to toss out some links and a few thoughts. Each of the links are important, in my opinion, because they represent some of the issues we’re facing as writers. I’m very interested in hearing what you think about the questions they bring up.

First up is an update from The Passive Voice about indie authors quitting their day jobs. The comments are great and show that there are different ways of defining success. But, what impressed me most of all about the comments was the amount of encouragement being given. It’s a refreshing change from some of the shrill condemnation coming from a certain sector of the industry.

This next link is one Sarah sent me last night. The title of the article, “Failure, Writing’s Constant Companion” didn’t do much to make me want to read it. Not after a day of struggling with my own work. But then I did read it and, frankly, the article is true on a number of points. The question really boils down to do we have the strength to continue fighting the small “failures” as well as the large or do we toss in the towel and do something else?

Although you may starve if your books don’t sell, or your agent might yell at you for producing something that three people will read, failure in writing is more of an intimately crushing day-to-day thing. O.K., minute-to-minute. Measured against your ideal of yourself.

Those little “failures” — the failure to meet the daily word count, the failure to finish a book by a self-imposed deadline, the failure to sell so many copies a day as determined by some number we’ve plucked out of the air — are what tend to undermine our confidence as writers. I know they do me. Add in the “real life” pressures and it can become difficult at times. It’s up to us to figure out how to cope and move forward — or to determine if the time has come to chuck the writing and go find a “real” job.

Then there is this post from The Passive Voice where a hybrid author “busts” myths about publishing. I’d seen it earlier but it was the math about the difference in what authors receive for traditionally published work as opposed to indie work. The one thing I’ll take exception to is that there is no provision in the math table (that I saw this morning) to take into account that the publisher pays authors based on net. So the figures shown on the chart will actually be lower. But the point made after the math is still valid:

So, the rule of thumb is that an indie author earns almost five times as much as a traditional author from each ebook sold.

Or, to flip things around, if a tradpub author sells four times as many ebooks as an indie author does, the indie author still makes more money.

Then, in the legal case that never ends, the judge has ordered mediation in an off-shoot of the price fixing case brought by the Department of Justice against Apple et al. In this particular situation, the original defendants in the suit (Apple and five of the then Big Six Publishers) have been told to negotiate with three e-tailers, now no longer in business, “in an attempt to resolve claims that a 2010 conspiracy to fix e-book prices forced the retailers out of business.” The three plaintiffs are “filed by Australian upstart DNAML in September of 2013, and later joined by Lavoho, LLC, a “successor” to the Diesel eBook Store and Abbey House Media, formerly BooksOnBoard,” PW notes more plaintiffs may join the suit before everything is said and done.

What this means is that it is going to be a long time before we quit feeling the fall out from the collusion that happened between Apple and the publishers. The rather tense — yes, I’m being nice here — contract negotiations between Amazon and Hatchette are just the first salvo. What I find interesting is that the same authors who are so up in arms about how evil Amazon is being toward innocent little Hatchette are silent on how the machinations of their publisher and Apple drove other e-tailers out of business. Of course, they are probably trying to find a way to blame it all on Amazon. After all, Amazon is the big evil.

Hmmm, I wonder if Amazon wants t join the Evil League of Evil.

Then there is this four question interview with Hugh Howey. It isn’t difficult to see the side of the Amazon v Hatchette issue the interviewer falls on, especially when she states that she feels Mike Shatzkin “pointed out, rightly I believe” that it is in indie authors’ best interests for traditionally published e-books to remain at a higher price. After all, those poor indies are fighting for a market share and don’t have all the resources behind them that a traditionally published author does.

Howey’s response is both measured and right on the mark, in my opinion:

I blogged about this on my site. If you want to understand this mindset, look at the indie author community, where many authors share ideas and encouragement, participate in box sets, reveal anything that works for them in the hopes it might work for others, and where you’re more likely to see a writer tout someone else’s book rather than their own.

I have spoken with Hachette authors who are frustrated with the price of their e-books. They feel powerless. They can’t speak up for fear of reprisal. When people like Mike act stunned that anyone would fight for these authors who can’t fight for themselves, it tells me a lot about how they see the world. It’s not how I see it. I don’t ever want to see the world like that, even if it’s accurate. Because seeing the world like this is the first step in making it so.

There’s a lot more there. Go take a look.

Finally, I saw this announcement on Publishers Weekly. Basically, Writer’s Digest and BookBaby have teamed up to form a self-publishing imprint. Now, you know me. I’m the suspicious sort. So I went looking to see what I could find on Blue Ash Publishing. Part of it was out of curiosity. Could it have something that might be of assistance to me? But part of it was the cynic coming out — could it really be a self-publishing imprint when they are doing the publishing? That seemed at odds with what self-publishing is.

Well, my suspicions turned out to at least have some basis. For one, Blue Ash is basically a repackager that also does e-book conversion and basic cover design. Oh, you get a couple of “guaranteed” reviews and other “perks”, but you also pay a nice bit of change for it. Their “packages” range in price from $417 to $3,137. Oh, but they will give you, the author, the highest payment out there. They say so right here. Of course, they go on to say that you get 100% of “net” sales from online retailers. It looks like that means they won’t take a cut like other repackagers do, but remember. You’ve already paid out at least $417 for a title you may only be charging a couple of bucks for. I’ll let you figure out the math to determine how many copies you’d have to sell just to break even.

There is one bit on the commission page that worries more than others. Blue Ash promises to pay weekly once you reach a pre-set earnings threshold. What they don’t say is if that means they will pay only on sales through their own storefront on a weekly basis or on projected sales from the other outlets. Since I’m not aware of any online outlet that pays repackagers on weekly basis, this could mean Blue Ash pays on spec. While that’s nice, it could also mean you would be dunned the next week — or month — when someone returns your book. That could quickly become bookkeeping hell. Sorry, but I’ll pass.

Anyway, that’s it for this morning. I promise a real post next week. In the meantime, I am curious to see what you guys think about the links above and what they might mean for indies as a whole.

coverforvfaNow for a bit of self-promotion. Vengeance from Ashes is on countdown on Amazon this week. If you are quick, you can sill grab it for 99 cents. Thanks to everyone who has already grabbed a copy. I really do appreciate it.

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.


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A different modest proposal

Now while I’m aware that Johnathan Swift’s proposal comes under the heading of ‘It’s for the children’ and therefore naturally a good idea, I had an entirely different idea in mind, and one which would probably bring about similar outraged shrieks… but it might actually work if anyone took it seriously.

You see Amazon is evul. Not quite as evil as the evil league of evil, but working on it. I am sure the story Jeff Bezos rubs his forehead every morning to feel if the nubs of the horns are yet protruding is a nasty slander put about by the same jackasses who think (well, parrot, thinking requires functional brain cells) that we’re fascists (I know, I know. Logic is patriarchal oppression). Reality is there are large flocks (No: wrong collective noun. what about ‘a shriek of parrots’?) of Amazon Derangement Syndromers out there. I think the sheer volume does lend a degree of exaggeration to their numbers, but hey, there are at least 900 (they signed the Amazon are condemning poor James Patterson to a slow death by starvation open letter), plus of course all the staff at traditional publishing houses, and some camp-followers. Anyway, we have a couple of thousand people, not all of whom are idiots, who believe that at all costs Amazon must be opposed and brought to heel or Traditional publishing, and possibly all the gains of the last 1000 years will be for naught, trampled underfoot, and literature will go to the dogs.


But, besides the possibility that we’ll be reduced to eating small children by Amazon, they feel that, well, a monopoly would be a bad thing.

And for once I actually agree with them. Now I know, and you know, that Amazon only approaches a near monopoly on sales where traditional publishing, distributors and their friends Barnes and Noble and Books-a-million and many other fine bookstores have either refused to carry the book, refused to reprint, refused to restock when copies are sold. In other words Amazon only has a near monopoly on books by Independents, or unfortunates like moi published by Baen (thank you, Barnes and Noble for your ‘support’ with Dragon’s Ring, Rats, Bats and Vats (“Rats, Bats and Vats Series” Book 1)
– and your ongoing help with a re-order system which sees so many of my books still selling away… only from Amazon.) Otherwise it has maybe 60% of the market. That’s still a lot. But unlike the behavior of our dear little friends in traditional publishing, who had a near total de facto monopoly and monopsony (as an oligopoly/oligopsony they worked as a de facto cartel, raising prices together, setting indistinguishable purchasing terms, and dictating roughly the same material be bought. They swapped staff frequently, and swapped information on a scale not occurring elsewhere in business – and the DoJ did them up for collusion for it. Most of the bought off, but Apple didn’t, was found guilty — thereby, as you can’t collude on your own, as near to a guilty verdict as you’ll get), Amazon have paid authors well (70% royalties as opposed to about 17.5%), with transparent accounting and timely payments every month with a two month delay – instead of 8-18 months publishers managed.

Now, as the gates of the internet are harder to hold (there being billions) than the gates to a handful of retail book-chains that the traditional publishers maintained their monopolistic control over, I for one think that if Amazon gets too greedy, competition will come and eat them. In the meanwhile they’ll have to very greedy indeed to make terms as bad as those we got from Traditional publishing. Still, competition is a good thing for readers and for Authors. Middlemen, (especially with too much control) are at best necessary evil, and at worst, will destroy the entire business. So I gather that the existing (but being disintermediated) middlemen (traditional publishers), plan to start their own e-book at least store.

I know. I know. The size 60 left boot store (that’s all that they have on the shelf). Shopping a la Soviet Union command economy. Given that they’ll be actually facing competition and they don’t have the infrastructure to do physical books, or to do anything very well, even if you are a one legged wanting size 60 left boots, they won’t supply, and won’t be in business long. They won’t offer the range of goods or the delivery or the service Amazon do. They certainly won’t stock Indies, which are very popular. They certainly won’t offer the research and algorithms to match ‘you might also like’ that Amazon offer. It’s not something they have any skills to do, the desire to learn (they’ve had 50 years of opportunity, and real need in the last 10). It’s worth pointing out that Amazon is the internet ‘anchor tenant’ to retail. It draws a vast number of people, simply because it is the place to get anything, and the prices are good. 7% of what it sells is books. If you fondly imagine Harper Collins being able to that, I would strongly advise you to find another supplier, and to find professional help.

But there is a modest proposal possibility to find just that – a rival retail anchor tenant, which has great search algorithms, does a good job of ‘you might also like’ for me, and the prices are competitive. That’s eBay.

When you stop laughing, try thinking it through. You can already buy p-books on eBay. It would not be a large stretch to see electronic media sold there – downloaded through the supplier. It’s got a good payment system in place, and it is in direct competition to Amazon. They could even put limited quantity eArcs up for auction.

Curiously enough I did a quick fee calculation, and publishers – if they didn’t cut a special deal (possible for volume) would end up losing the same 30% more or less that they do to Amazon. And yes, there would undoubtedly be those upstart indies. Independent sellers are eBay’s bread-and-butter. They’re not going to lose them for the small value that tradpub would add. But if I was old Pietsch and his chums I’d waste less time trying to snowjob readers and writers, and go and chat to eBay. But then they’re not literwerwe, and probably would lower the tone of literatchure, with chainsaw parts and rifle scopes as also boughts… (okay, maybe that’s just me)

Various people have sounded off about the Hugos – My only real comment is ‘Pyrrhus’. Look, the point being made by Larry Correia about the Hugos was the award was not for the best SF/Fantasy of the year, but for the most popular among a small left to far-left bunch of the WorldCon attendees. What he did was to make make this proposition (now established as fact) known very widely and publicly. As the reading population, logic states, is a reflection of the demographics of the total population, and maybe 10-15% of that group could count as left wing. Stretch to 25% who will put up with it… still leaves 75% who are unrepresented, for whom the Hugo Award was at best meaningless or actively signaled a book they would not want to read. Now, obviously, even if you personally are further left than Pol Pot or Kim il from-too-much-caviar or Stalin, as an author signalling that 75% do not want to read your book is not a win. By Larry making this bias obvious, by having to recruit nominations, despite being a very very popular author… The previous Hugo winners, the current nominees, the normal greying crew of voters, the WorldCon organizers and the Hugo organizers were caught in a trap. The only way to win (to establish that this was NOT true, there was no left wing bias) was to LOSE. To have a right wing, (or several of them) author (or editor) win (no matter how good the various proponents were. It was like an international road-race which somehow only Germans won… once this was publicized, even if the best runner was German – if he won, your race’s credibility was in the toilet, now and always) That would re-establish the credibility of the award as essentially picking ‘best’ rather than left wing flavor of the month lose and 75% of your sales. It was kind of a lose or lose badly equation for the left wing of sf/fantasy, lose and have a Damian in tears surrounded by exploding heads, or ‘win’ and lose badly by destroying your credibility. The best option would have been to divide and rule and get behind say Toni Weisskopf and Brad Torgersen. But that would take brains.

Well: The sweep of the board by the usual suspects, the ‘anything but’ votes… they were certainly victorious against the Romans – which was exactly what was predicted -and the worst possible outcome for the shriek, and the authors concerned, and the award itself.

Heh. As we used to say ‘lelik is niks, maar fokkin stupid!’


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Hugo Semi-Live Comments Thread

The Hugos are happening right now. There’s already been a  (horror!) straight white male winner for best fanzine.

Feel free to comment on winners, non-winners, commentary, whatever Hugo-related.


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Once more I’m begging off

Look, truly, I’m not running off on the novel in progress — and I need to get to it sooner rather than later — but this week has been marked by extreme allergies (all kinds.  Respiratory bothers me most, though) and if I take benadryl I can breathe, but I can’t write.

On top of all I found out yesterday my mother is having severe cardiac issues, and she’s afraid of dying before she sees me and the kids again.  (We haven’t been there for three and a half years.)

Now, time wise this is impossible till at least Christmas, and Christmas will be difficult money-wise, but can possibly be done.

Well, that’s life.

However, with one thing and another and another and yet another, I haven’t gone back and read Elf Blood, and because it’s been on hiatus so long I’ve forgotten details and can’t continue easily.  I beg you to grant me another week.

Also, while you’re at it go read this on how NOT to be a precious snowflake.


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An Interview with the rising generation

Shopping at our favorite used book store.

Shopping at our favorite used book store.

I’m on vacation in New Hampshire this week, dodging the rain and taking my kids to lots of used book stores! I was originally going to do an open floor, but the younglings agreed to let me interview them around the dinner table tonight. Here is the transcript, with me as Mother-Thing, the 15 yo as Eldest Child, the 14 yo as Redhead, the 12 yo as Junior Mad Scientist (you should hear the evil laugh, it’s the MOST adorable thing ever), and finally, the 9 yo as The Little Man.

I thought it would be interesting to see what they had to say about their reading, what they like and don’t, and how school works with pleasure reading. Hopefully this will make you laugh, and maybe think if you plan to write any young adult books.

The Mother-Thing: So what do you like to read? You’re going to be a sophmore in Highschool this year, are you going to have time to read?

The Eldest Child: I will read very little, I have too many activities, I have band, drama, jazz band, pep band, art club, and homework.

MT: I didn’t know there were that many kinds of bands.

EC: I look for a title, how it looks, like… then I’ll read the back, if that catches me, then I’ll take it. I’ll read basically anything. But I have assigned reading all year, so I’m not going to have time to read unassigned anything.

MT: So, next-eldest daughter, you’re going to be a frosh. What about you?

The Redhead: Yes, I’m going to have time to read. Anything that catches my eye, if it’s suggested to me I’ll try it. Last summer I went through all the teen section shelves at the library.

Junior Mad Scientist: All of them?

R: All of them. I was there five days a week.

MT: What do you not like to see in a book?

R: Fantasy in a real place. Like a past time, like the 1800’s. Seriously, who does that? I read a book in Slovakia in the 1700s with a dragon in the cast.

MT: So, Junior Mad Scientist, you’re going to be in 7th grade. Will you have time to read?

JMS: most likely. I like to read at night.

EC: Dude, she has stayed up until like three in the morning reading.

Little Man asked me to explain this cover, which is why I am Mother-Thing today.

Little Man asked me to explain this cover, which is why I am Mother-Thing today.

JMS: I don’t like non-fiction. I will only read it if it’s suggested highly. Or assigned.

MT: So what kinds of things do you like to read?

JMS: Fantasy, until I run into where I don’t understand what they are talking about and I have to stop the book.

MT: Do you have a favorite author?

R: I know I do.

JMS: Not really, but i like Rick Riordan and Veronica Roth. I highly suggest Divergent, highly.

MT: So, Redhead, what’s your favorite?

R: John Green.

MT: So What is it about John Green you really like?

R: I read Fault in our Stars and it was like, powerful. It’s foreshadowing, and it brought me to the other ones by him.

MT: So, little Man, you will be in fourth grade, how about you?

Little Man: I like realistic fiction. My favorite is the Boxcar Children. I read realistic fiction because it kinda sprouts ideas. I don’t want to be fake. So I read to know what I’m gonna grow up to be.

MT: So, Redhead, what would you recommend for the readers of this blog?

R: I don’t know how well known it is, but An Abundance of Katherines. It’s about this guy who has only had Katherines for girlfriends. He ends up on a road trip, and they meet this girl who has only dated a Colin. She’s going to get with him, obviously.

MT: Junior Mad Scientist, what would you recommend?

JMS: I guess, other than Divergent, Percy Jackson and the Olympus, the second series, Heroes of Olympus, isn’t as good.

MT: How about you, Eldest Child?

We climbed a hill and a fire tower...

We climbed a hill and a fire tower…

EC: Um, the Mortal Instruments series. I just finished it and I really liked it.

JMS: I want to say something else. In the back of Divergent, there is this site called Epic Reads.com, you might want to check it out.

About then, our together time at the table came to an end… time for chores and maybe a movie tonight. If the rain holds off, we’ll go camping. If not, we have games, and plenty of books to read!

One of my finds so far this week! A Drake I hadn't read.

One of my finds so far this week! A Drake I hadn’t read.



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Genre Games

Weird Genre Speculations
Pam Uphoff

We’ve had a lot of discussions about when is it plagiarism and when is it grabbing an idea and turning it into something new. Using someone else’s words is plagiarizing. Using someone else’s ideas is just good healthy fun. If you just steal the idea, the premise, it’s not stealing. Use your own words for the whole thing. And definitely change the character and place names and descriptions. FanFic is a whole other can of worms.

I realized that some of the premises in a book I’m writing might be illustrative of how many things you can do with an idea. How to use an idea, but not the words. Let’s play . . .

So . . . my character killed a man.
Then traveled back in time and changed things. The man lived.
So . . . is she a murderer or not?
The crime was not committed (now) but _she_ is still the person who picked up the gun and killed a man.
Is she a danger to society?
Should she feel guilty?
Will she be more likely to kill again, knowing she can “fix” it later?

I love science fiction. You can speculate on so many things. But please, keep the belly button gazing down to a minimum. I want some action, I want to see someone else kill that scumbucket. I want her to realize that killing _this_ person was a good thing. But I want her to realize it while she’s running around doing cool things, saving the world, designing spaceships, or fighting off alien attacks. Possibly, all of the above. She can cry, and have nightmares, so long as she gets up in the morning and gets to work.
I might even throw some romance in there, but again, it’s got to be in brief interludes between action of a significant nature. The main story problem is not how the girl grows up, accepts herself as a person who will do violence if it is called for, and falls in love. The story is saving the world. The rest is background and characterization, a bit of thought provoking gee whiz or oooo weee!
It’s maybe half written. You can check it out next year. But what else could I have done with this basic idea?

I (or someone else) could take that same idea, but aim for a different genre.

It might be fun to make it a romance between the killer chick and her once upon a time victim. She could oscillate between guilt about killing him, investigation to find out if he really had deserved to be killed, nightmares about killing him again and . . . Then I’d have to think up a good story for him. An undercover cop assuming the identity of a real nasty sort who looked enough like him to get away with it so long as he didn’t shave his beard off? A twin brother? A cousin? And now his investigation of ??? is getting derailed by this mystery woman? Yeah, it could be fun. Maybe I’ll NaNo a romance this year.

Looking through my list of genres that the staring premise could be shoehorned into. . .

YA and Christian could be done, with a slight change in ages and with religion added. I wouldn’t do the Christian story because I was raised without any religion at all, and tend to be tone deaf or color blind (or any other metaphor for oblivious you prefer) to religious nuances. And, err, large issues. YA, I could do, but it would be a YA SF. I’d need a different POV character, sixteen years old and, hmm, why did he or she kill that person? Deliberate or accidental?

Thriller? Oh definitely, in fact very well. The fast pacing could be pushed by the disaster she’s back in time to prevent. She’s taking the risk of paradoxing herself into oblivion because she can’t deal with the guilt of having killed this guy. Personal win, along with saving the world or some such. Of course, she might begin to suspect that he caused the disaster . . . I could do a gender switch on this one, big tough guy going back in time to save the world, but does he have a secret agenda of his own?

Western? Eh . . . hard to stick to all the other tropes with time travel added to the story. Hard to carry off. Kind of like how Cowboys vs Aliens was amusing, once.

Historical ditto, but throw in some fantasy, instead of a time machine, and you can have Outlander. So done right It can work. Except I’m not sure it hasn’t fallen out of the Historical genre altogether. Heh. I _refuse_ to make it out-and-out Fantasy. Magic *and* time travel makes my head hurt. (But feel free to give it a go, yourself. You could get rich on what I can’t abide.)

Steampunk time machine . . .

Mystery? Umm, the woman could be a police detective, who inadvertently dropped back through time. She investigates the man she killed before she kills him? I dunno if mystery readers would accept that.

Literary? Eeeeee! Kill it with fire! Because there’s so much belly button gazing, angst and guilt opportunities that it could be done. But of course, in the end, she’d have to kill him again.

But all of these are different stories. Any one of you could grab this idea, even the extended genre ideas, write a story, and it would be completely different than what I would write, even in the same genre. But if it’s got the same words, over and over, the same descriptions. If the same scenes show up with minimal alteration . . . Dude. Really, have some pride, some self-respect. Don’t steal someone else’s labor. Roll up your sleeves and get to work on your very own take on an idea.

All ideas are like this. Want a homework assignment? Take the idea of the last story you read, or one of your own that you wrote. Then pick two different genres and see how you could make it fit each one.

And, just to prove that I can figure out how to add a picture to a post, now that I’m back home: here’s my favorite place to write. Pity it’s only “mine” for a week a year.

Favorite writing spot

view from livingroom

But somehow I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done.

Patio Nap Arch Rocks

And the obligatory self promotion:

Today is the last free day for the next 90 days.

Magic vs. Astronomical Disaster.
The young magicians of Ash need to grow up fast, else they may not grow up at all.



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