Tag Archives: Online Writing

The Darwin Murders

A short time ago, I was invited by a friend to write a short piece for an upcoming anthology, published online, called The Darwin Murders. Participants were asked to write a 250 word piece in which they could kill of a character of their choosing, provided the poor unfortunate didn’t/doesn’t exist in real life. (No killing Hitler or Stalin, okay?)

I choose the bane of modern-day small screen viewing, the horror that is the television licence inspector. The editors liked my story so much that I was one of two authors who had their pieces put aside for special mention.

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If you want to find out how and why I murdered a television licence inspector, pop over to Amazon and see for yourself. And don’t stop at me, either. Other writers in the anthology harbour secret desires to bump off their nemeses. At the end of the day, we each have our dark sides.

Don’t forget to look behind you – you could be next.

 

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100 Words, 100 Days: Day 90. On NaNoWriMo (via Quantum Leap).

Theorizing that one could write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, Writer James McShane turned on this laptop and typed.

He wrote until he found himself stuck in the zone, facing words and  images that he had created, and driven by an Unknown Force to change plot points for the better.

His only guide on his journey is You, a reader that James can neither see nor hear. And so, Writer McShane finds himself leaping from chapter to chapter, from character to character, striving to put down one word after another, hoping each time that the next word will be the last.

 

 

Write Here, Write Now: The Importance of Imagination.

It’s not enough to say you’re a writer; you must have something to show for it, some kind of proof. Whether they’re lines from a poem you wrote when you were four, or outlines for the next Great Irish/American/British Novel, a writer, fledgling or otherwise, will have something written down. Somewhere.

I was tidying out my bedroom the other week when I came across a hand-written manuscript dating back at least ten years. Three things surprised me. First, my handwriting is terrible. I can read the parts where I wrote when I was sober. I can’t read the parts where there was drink taken. You see, I wrote most of it in my local pub. I sat at the counter and drank while writing the book that would make my fortune. I was the source of much amusement to other customers, as well as the owner of the establishment.

The second thing that surprised me is the way the story made sense, in a surreal nonsensical kind of way. Each paragraph, each chapter contained scenes and dialogue that to this day fills me with a certain amount of pride. It had Beatles lyrics sprinkled about the place; it had spectral observers; it had angst and unrequited love – all in 27 drunken pages. Stephen King had nothing on me.

The third thing that surprised me is that I wanted to know where the writer was going with his story. Namely, where did I want to go with it? Was there an endgame? Would the story be worth pursuing? Was it important enough to me to continue?

And that, for me, is the crux of matter. When I was young, I read comic books – as I’m sure most of us did to some degree – but I would copy the story into a notebook, using the pictures and speech bubbles as prompts. I “wrote” Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog stories from 2000AD. I used Captain Kirk and Mr Spock as templates for new adventures set in other universes. In other words, I used my imagination. It was important for me then, and I guess it’s important for me now.

I don’t drink any more, but I now work in the pub where I started my then magnum opus. I may go back to it one day…when I have the nerve to do so.

 

 

Shel Silverstein: Danny O’Dare

I never heard of Shel Silverstein until quite recently. In fact, I never read much poetry until quite recently, too. I have found, though, that I like my poetry the way I like my prose: fast-moving, not too ornate, but with enough imagery and action to make me want more.

A perfect example of what I do like is this poem by Silverstein. It’s called Danny O’Dare. I love the way it dashes along.

Read it and enjoy.

Danny O'Dare, the dancin' bear,
Ran away from the County Fair,
Ran right up to my back stair
And thought he'd do some dancin' there.
He started jumpin' and skippin' and kickin',
He did a dance called the Funky Chicken,
He did the Polka, he did the Twist,
He bent himself into a pretzel like this.
He did the Dog and the Jitterbug,
He did the Jerk and the Bunny Hug.
He did the Waltz and the Boogaloo,
He did the Hokey-Pokey too.
He did the Bop and the Mashed Potata,
He did the Split and the See Ya Later.
And now he's down upon one knee,
Bowin' oh so charmingly,
And winkin' and smilin'--it's easy to see
Danny O'Dare wants to dance with me.

The Dark Tower: Vol VII

The Dark Tower Vol VII: The Dark Tower

What would you do if two of your main characters turned up on your doorstep and asked you why you haven’t completed their story? You’d no doubt take a long look at your alcohol and drug habit, thinking it might just be a hallucination.

This is exactly what happened to Stephen King in the/his novel Song of Susannah, the sixth in The Dark Tower series. I had been told that this was the weakest of the saga; the least liked and most hated. I didn’t think that at all. Colour me prejudiced, but I’ve taken to King’s epic like a Jesus to a child. But this was the one where it all went a bit weird.

Characters, like Father Donald Callahan, found out that they, in fact, creations of King’s imagination. But it goes much deeper than that. Because there are an infinite number of multiverses, all centred around the Dark Tower, it makes sense that even universes of the imagination would co-exist along side our own. It’s a concept that takes some getting used to. One has to think so far outside the box that the box doesn’t exist anymore.

Susannah Dean becomes Susannah-Mia, an entity created by a Crimson King-designed pregnancy – a ruse brought about to frustrate and ultimately bring down Roland Deschain’s quest for The Dark Tower.

Our heroes are separated and find themselves in the United States at different times: in 1999 Susannah-Mia are about to give birth; Jake, Father Callahan and Oy set out to save her; in 1977 Roland and Eddie meet their “creator” and somehow convince him to carry on with their story. King writes himself very well. He acknowledges his burgeoning alcoholism as well as the accident that so nearly killed him.

So, by no means is Song of Susannah the weakest link in The Dark Tower chain; it’s a necessary step King took in order to bring about the climax which comes in volume seven. I loved it and will defend it until I reach the path at the end of the clearing.

Song of Susannah

The Dark Tower Vol. VI: Song of Susannah

It was late last night (or early this morning, actually) when I put down Wolves of the Calla, the fifth volume of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I have to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from this book. On first glance it appeared to be “filler” material, a sub-plot taken to its extreme, a ploy to get another book squeezed in there somewhere. My initial impression was that this was a needless side-step from the quest: The Magnificent Seven meets Little House on the Prairie. As usual, I was wrong.

Not only is this volume necessary to the ongoing plot of the series, when you take into account character arcs and development, it’s also a rip-roaring adventure story. The Gunslingers ride into town and save the local townsfolk from marauders. Cue Elmer Bernstein’s theme tune. But it is so much more than that.

As a friend recently pointed out, Wolves is stuffed to the gills with pop-culture references. Vampires are all the rage at the moment, but we tend to forget where they came from. Stephen King’s second novel, Salem’s Lot, was among the first to put a modern spin on them. He made them terrifying again. One of his characters from that novel, Father Donald Callahan, is a major character in Wolves, and to be honest with you, I wasn’t really sure if that was going to work. Too much postmodernist play-acting. A writer losing control of his focus. Those thoughts were prevalent in my initial reading of Wolves.

Doctor Doom on horseback.

But it all makes wonderful sense. Of course it does – it’s Stephen King, after all. This is his universe; these are his creations. If the author can’t play around with his own characters, who can?

Once again, I’m not going to spoil what happens for those of you who haven’t read the series. You have to experience it for yourself. The one thing I will say is, I got this book. I took every idea, every concept that King created and went with it. It’s a journey I’m very much enjoying. So much so that when I finished Wolves, I immediately headed straight to Song of Susannah. If any of you out there have all seven books, ready and waiting, that’s how I suggest you do it: read one after the other.

How in the hell did his readers wait all that time to finish the series? I know I couldn’t have coped.