At the end of each of my collections, I include a section in which I touch on WHERE each story came from, and since this week’s coupon is for my second collection (More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND), I thought the ORIGINS would make a good blog posting. Enjoy!
People have on occasion asked me how I write – more specifically, how do my stories “happen”. I’m not a great planner – even in life I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, and my writing process reflects that.
I spend entirely too much time thinking – I’d blame it on my writing, but the fact is the writing is just a by-product. I love rolling ideas around in my head; they’re usually safe in there – it’s when I tell people about what I’m thinking that it gets a little dangerous. Good thing I’ve decided to start shouting them out to as many people as I can, huh? Writing is a dangerous place for insecure people…
I don’t do outlines – at least not for a first draft; it would be foolish, since I rarely know where the story is heading (I know where I want it to go, but I can’t be sure it will get there.) I just need a starting point; it can be a phrase (I’m fond of puns and double-entendres), a single word, a full sentence, a piece of tech that I’ve read about or envisioned. I start writing, and the story pretty much builds as I go. I rarely try to write a story to a particular word limit – the story is as long as it wants to be. Sometimes, I don’t know how it’s going to end until it does.
“Sasqwhat?” actually began with a look in the mirror and the observation that even though my hair is silver, the roots (as well as the hair at the back of my neck) is very dark; it was almost as if someone had been secretly coloring my hair silver while I slept to make me think I’m older than I really am (don’t I wish!) What if I wasn’t who or what I was? An alien hidden among humans? This started the ball rolling, but then somewhere in the writing the aliens became sasquatch-like, then just “normal” sasquatch, and Ben went from being an apparently old man to an adolescent human with an evolutionary issue.
“The View From Up Here” was just written at a time when I let my imagination wander (more than usual) and wrote from the fear that I might have a terminal disease. And because I always talk to myself, that led to the what-if-the-voices-in-my-head-are-real angle; that made the conversation more interesting.
“Inheritance” came from a combination of grave-robbers, the artifacts AND servants buried in tombs, and a touch of being careful what you wish for. Wealth isn’t always what you think, and just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, it works in reverse, too.
“The Human Interface” was a simple comparison between demonic possession and software insecurity, colored by my past experience in IT customer service.
“Riding the Devil” was started by a vivid dream someone shared with me. They were so struck by it that they thought it would be a good basis for a story, so they left me a voicemail detailing it: A protagonist who rides a symbiotic vehicle that makes him dried up and skeletal. He uses the vehicle to get away, while the vehicle sucks life from him. He melds into it, his flesh sealed to it, his bones pop as they’re displaced to conform to the vehicle’s needs. He’s used up more each time he rides, and he’s training a new rider. This happens in an arrid place – most of the details of the ride entail dangerous drop-offs and narrow places – hilly, big open spaces, narrow, small areas. AND this is NOT cowboys and aliens. Well… you can decide how close I got to it.
“Last Call” was a flash competition entry for a writing workshop – I don’t remember what the trigger was. I managed to keep it to exactly 666 words, but before it left the competition and travelled the route that eventually resulted in publication it went through a couple of rewrites, and the word count didn’t seem as important to me as getting it “right”.
This week’s coupon is for More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND (the collection described above) – here’s the link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/351846?ref=NoTimeToThink
Use coupon code DP84A to save 80% off the list price at check out on Smashwords (that’s right – all six stories for only $1.00!) The coupon is good through October 19th. Enjoy!