Rupture – Scrivener’s Forge 11

This is my response to the exercise in The Scrivener’s Forge on point of view, examining an incident from the point of view of two different characters.

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Gilbert Garcin “La Rupture” Tightrope Walkers

Ayesha came to him.

“Zami, I’m pregnant.”

He said the usual silly things men say – What? How? Why? Are you sure?

‘It will be all right, won’t it?’ she asked. ‘You must marry me.’

‘Your brothers will never allow it,” he temporised.

“My brothers and father will kill me if I have a baby and I am unmarried.”

The moment of betrayal is always agonising. You recite for yourself all the reasons that make it right.  There’s duty. There’s the uncomfortable truth that you already have a wife and two vaguely C of E kids.  And those are good justifications. But you can only betray what you first love.

He walked away. He looked back once, and shed a tear.

…………………………………………………………………..

Ayesha tracked him down.

“Zami, I’m pregnant.”

She searched his eyes as he stammered and asked all the stupid, obvious, irrelevant questions. She wanted to see love there, concern, and maybe even joy. She saw fear.

‘It will be all right, won’t it?’ she asked. ‘You must marry me.’

‘Your brothers will never allow it,’

How could he not understand? “My brothers and father will kill me if I have a baby and I am unmarried.”

The sound of her voice came to her through the numb bone of her skull flat, factual, unemotional. But her body shook.

She saw it in his eyes before he said anything. She saw his need for her, perhaps even caring. But his love was insufficient. Or maybe his duty was misplaced. Either way, she understood this was going to be her problem, not theirs. Men were animals, just like Mama said. Her arm lashed out, intending to slap him.

He flinched but didn’t draw away. She stopped her hand, an inch from his face, caressed his cheek and then spat in his face.

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Friday Fictioneers – Common as muck

chicagomg
Photo Prompt © Marie Gail Stratford

Whaddaya mean I can’t be here? Whodyathink you are? Oh, you’re the doorman? Well, whoopiedoo, I’m a street-sweeper! You ain’t no better than me. Whodyathink keeps the pavement clean for the lovely ladies ‘n’ genelmen?

What? Of course I’m dirty, you eejit. Muck does that to a bloke. I’m good enough to keep your customers from stepping in poop, but not good enough to be one? Get you!

Silly hat but nice coat, by the way. We’ll see how pretty the jacket looks when you have to clean up your own crap because I ain’t gonna ever again.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on point of view.

Friday Fictioneers – Attack

saltaire-sarah-ann-hall
Photo Prompt © Sarah Ann Hall

They were drawn up like an army on the heights, standing tall in silent challenge. Mist swaddled them and a pale moon shone through their ranks.

My opponent’s bishop rushed me, and the daring caused the watchers to gasp.

A shake of my head to clear it, and a hand run over tired eyes. These were only vases, a collection on my sideboard. Just ornaments.

The bishop’s mitre scythed over my head and I saw moonlight glint on keen steel.

Confronting mortal threat makes philosophical speculations about reality fade. I hefted the broadsword that formed in my hands.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on point of view.

 

The Scrivener’s Forge 11 – Point of view again

schmiedefeuer
Medoc

This follows on from last month’s exercise on point of view.

Exercise

Write a short scene with two characters in which your main character encounters a strange or difficult situation involving another character. Use what you know about your main character’s desires and fears to show how they respond to the other character. Now repeat the exercise, this time using the other character as your main character. Notice how this change of point-of-view alters the story.

Friday Fictioneers – Ordinary Folk

rogers-sunset
Photo Prompt © Roger Bultot

“When you know how it’s done, it takes away the magic,” Petran says.

The vaulted roof soars almost all the way to heaven. Petran painted yellow stars on the high blue ceiling. And I, of course, chamfered the columns, tapering them at the top. This trompe l’oeil makes the viewer see the chamber as taller than it really is. Long flights of stairs force the petitioner to look up towards the majesty of the dais and throne. Together, we artisans manufactured awe.

Truly, it don’t destroy the magic. Ordinary folk made this with brains and hands. That’s awe too.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on point of view.

Friday Fictioneers – The Cottage

 

tree-sandra-crook
Photo Prompt © Sandra Crook

Tom has halted beside the woodcutter’s cottage, a stand of burly oaks patrolling the fence line. He can’t make his feet go on.

You picture dread and think of a sudden shape in the underbrush, a howl in the night. If only it were so simple. How little separates us from what we fear!

To count as brave you must first be afraid of death. Tom’s fear runs much deeper. He can see the weave that connects the worlds. The fools tried to make us go away, but what use is that when we’re always a part of him?

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on point of view.

Friday Fictioneers – Locked-in

myna-bird
Photo Prompt © Douglas M McIlroy

Nothing. Whiteness. And the hum of a motor. I can see and hear, but when I try to move, nothing. Not restrained, just no muscles. Not even to call out. Without larynx and tongue, the shout remains trapped within me. Am I dead?

Shadows move across the ceiling. People in the room.

Helen’s voice. “How is he doctor?”

“A vegetative state. He may come out of it, he may not.”

The scream inside me has nowhere to go. It may live in me for ever.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on point of view

 

92. How to succeed as a novelist – more facts

In a previous post I summarised Jim Hines’ fascinating survey of the success factors for 246 authors. Now I’ve come across another survey of 150 authors by Graeme Shimmin.

Shimmin
Photo © Graeme Shimmin

The conclusions of the two studies are remarkably similar, despite Hines being from the US and Shimmin from the UK.

Success factor Jim Hines (US)

246 authors

Graeme Shimmin (UK)

150 authors

Average time writing before publication 11.5 years No data
Previous publications track record Only half (52.8%) had published short stories prior to first novel publication Only 28% had published short stories but 86% had some form of prior publication including:

  • 10% self-published novels
  • 11% internet publication
  • 21% journalism
  • 9% non-fiction books

However, paradoxically, 54% said they had no “platform” or that a platform was not a factor in their success

Creative writing qualifications Just under half (48%) had a  relevant degree A third (34%) had a relevant degree.

But 86% had done some sort of writing course mostly non-academic courses or retreats

Networking and contacts  61% had attended a writer’s convention and 59% were members of a writing group.

Three quarters had no contacts before publication.

Less than a quarter of agented authors had been recommended by a friend, and only 5% knew the agent beforehand in a personal capacity.

A quarter (26%) used contacts (of which over half came from working in publishing or a literary agency and a fifth from knowing a published author).

 

Most had some contact with the literary world

 

 

Route to publication Over half (55%) went through an agent. For those achieving breakthrough in the 21st century, agents were involved in two thirds (67%) of the successes

 

No data on competitions or other routes

No specific data on agents

A third (32%)  succeeded with unsolicited submissions (key success factors were the quality of the writing, the commercial nature of the text and the quality of the pitch)

A quarter (26%) went through open submissions or competitions

A quarter (26%) used contacts (see above)

16% were approached by an agent or publisher and asked to submit

Conclusions

  1. Time spent learning your craft is essential. Expect to struggle for years. Joining writing groups, non-academic courses and writers’ retreats may help. Creative writing or English degrees are not necessary.
  2. A track record in publishing short stories is helpful but not necessary, though some form of publication track record may help to create profile and credibility.
  3. Having an agent is increasingly important according to Hines. Shimmin’s survey has no data on agents.
  4. Unsolicited submissions can succeed in a significant minority of cases, especially where the writing has commercial prospects. Entering open submissions and competitions can help, as can working your contacts.
  5. Building up your networks and experience of the writing world may help, though don’t over-emphasise the importance of developing your “platform”

The main difference between the two surveys is Shimmin’s emphasis on networking and contacts, which Hines concludes is not so important. However, this seems to be a question of interpretation, rather than numbers. Their data is similar, indicating that around a quarter of successful submissions went through contacts.

Beans Talk – Scrivener’s Forge 10

This is my response to the Scrivener’s Forge 10 exercise on point of view

jack-giant-800
Storynory.com

 

 

The boy was bad, clean bad, all the way through. Everybody knew it. Take the three bears, for example. He’d broken into their house, scarfed their porridge, and smashed up their furniture. Officer Krupke had called in Jack’s mother to give her a final warning – one more incident and the lad was headed for prison.

Bears, of course, are cuddly. Who doesn’t love a bear? It’s not the same with giants. When folk see me coming, they run and hide. And yeah, I can understand – I’m ugly and, if I don’t look where I’m going, I crush little creatures underfoot and topple small trees.

So it wasn’t really a surprise when Officer Krupke didn’t even bother turn up when I phoned in the complaint about Jack. Just said he’d file a report. So much for one more incident! The little bugger had sold his mother’s only cow for a handful of magic beans. Was out of his skull on them, otherwise he wouldn’t have dared worm and squirm his way into a giant’s home.

I guessed someone had broken in when my hoard of gold coins went missing. Yeah, I suspected Jack but I couldn’t prove it. So I got no help from the cops.

“Dust for prints, you can at least do that” I shouted into the tin can, making the string vibrate.

“You’ve been watching too much TV,” Krupke said. I could tell he was wondering where I’d got the gold coins from in the first place. Things have never been cool between me and the cops since I beat the crap out of that kid David for coming after me with a slingshot. Once you have a record, you never get a fair shake.

Anyhow, I sat guard after that. And sure enough, two days later there was Jack squeezing his scrawny little shoulders in through the burglar bars.  I kept mum to see what he’d do. He was hopped up on magic beans, eyes big, like one of those creatures, wombats or tasers or something. The kid knew what he was looking for, made straight for the hen house. Which is where I keep the goose.

Twelve years of experiments that goose cost me until I perfected a breed that deposited gold in the shell of her eggs. And Jack had her under his arm. That’s when I jumped out.

Well, the rest you’ve heard already. When the boy disappeared, his mother called the police. And they came straight to me because I’d made threats, so they said, found Jack locked in my basement. Suddenly I was the villain!

So that’s how come I’m in the slammer. And Jack? They say he and his ma moved to an executive home in that new development by the river. Like I don’t understand where they got the money for that! He steals my golden goose and I’m doing time? Yeah, right!

Friday Fictioneers – Reflection

fridays-moon-ted-strutz
Photo Prompt © Ted Strutz

“My eyes, something’s happened to my eyes.”

The other passengers shrank back, in case my illness proved catching. If I could see that action, my sight was okay. So, it wasn’t me, it was the world. Something had happened to the world.

I felt the ferry’s engine as a bass vibration in my legs. But we weren’t receding from land. The moon hung motionless in the sky and the reflections from the old customs house on the wharf didn’t shimmer on the stilled waves.

A figure wrapped in a shawl bent close. “You needn’t leave. Go back to her.”

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on point of view.