Category: Writing (Page 2 of 2)

Ever feel like you’re screaming into the wind?

Sometimes (and by that, I mean all the time) I wonder what I’m doing all this for. It’s not like people really care about what I write–and that’s okay… no one cares about what most people write. There’s a reason for that. Two, really. One is time. Most people these days just don’t have enough of it. The second is due to Sturgeon’s Law–80% of everything is crap. People know this instinctively, and budget their time accordingly. They stick to the writers they know and like and are often unwilling to take a chance on anyone new. Hence the reason most sales of new writers go to friends and family, and usually only the one time. Even your friends figure out quickly enough whether or not you’re someone they’re willing to add to their list of “writers”.

With that in mind, I offer a little story here for you to dip your toes into the icy river of my words…

An Illusion of Night

by Clancy Weeks

Everything leaked—the window, three bulkheads, seals, and the port reaction chamber; the worst were Will’s head and Paul’s own abdomen, and the second he plugged with two quick squirts of Heal-It.  There was nothing he could do for Will, and Lena had trapped herself in the airlock.  Next up was the port engine before their universe went boom, but unless he got into an EVA suit soon, it wouldn’t matter.  Paul’s trachea burned with every icy breath, and the ship’s alarm faded with every second; in moments, hard vacuum would reduce it to a vibration he could sense only through his boots.

He ran to the nearest locker and shrugged on the suit, ignoring pre-check protocols.  The collar on the helmet clicked home when he gave it a quarter turn, and air flowed instantly to his aching lungs.  Before he could descend the ladder to the port engine, a fierce rumble vibrated up his boots, through his legs, and into his brain.

“God da—”

***RESET***

“I’m not goin’ in there.”  Will shook his head violently, the white-knuckled grip on his weapon never wavering.  “Why me, anyway?”

Paul eyed him with a frown, then pasted a smile on his face.  “Because you’re the better shot.”  Without waiting for further argument, he opened the hatch and shoved the boy through, dogging it closed behind him.  The kid stared through the porthole with wide eyes, then spun at a sound from the darkened depths of the hold.

One, two, three shots rang out, vibrating the floor plates under Paul’s boots.  There was a short, high-pitched scream, and a bucket of blood splashed over the porthole.  The beast that had once been Lena had just pureed Will, then pressed a leathery snout against the glass and licked it clean.  Paul pointed his weapon, hands shaking, and blew the glass out with a single blast, accomplishing nothing more than enraging the creature.  She bashed the door, and Paul retreated.

Not fast enough.

The metal screamed, and the door popped open like a can of biscuit dough.  She gripped the ragged metal and pushed the door wide; head and body revealed an inch at a time.  Paul fired into her abdomen and head with no effect, and she lunged and seized him around his chest.  She tore the rifle away, taking most of his right arm with it.  He cried out in agony, his vision blurry from pain and rapid blood loss, but clear enough to see her mouth open wide.  Rows and rows of glistening teeth awaited, and he smelled Will’s blood on her hot breath as she—

***RESET***

The upper half of Will’s body exploded in a fountain of gore, bits of bone and brain raining over Paul’s head.  The creature lifted Lena high into the air, its roar of rage shaking the ground, and he shouldered the weapon and prayed this time his aim was true.  He took a deep breath and pulled the—

***PAUSE***

Dr. Jackson lifted his hand from the control panel and rubbed his temple.  The power of the machine humming through every surface faded, then stopped.

“Why did you do that?”  Inspector Janet Hardison stood on the other side of Paul’s body, studying the holo-field over his head.  “We’re close.”

“He’s spiraling, Detective.”  He shifted from rubbing his temple to scratching the five o’clock shadow on his cheek.  “The longer he’s inside, the greater the chance of trapping him in a loop.”

Janet rubbed the side of her nose with a forefinger.  “I think we were close a few iterations back.”  She frowned and furrowed her brow.  “Can you re-run from there?”

“Yes, but—”

“Do it.”  Her tone left no room for argument.

“How long do you plan to continue?”

She sneered.  “The man murdered his wife and son, Doctor.  I want that confession.”

“How long?”

Janet straightened.  “As long as it takes.”

***RESET***

Will’s body lay splayed on the ground, his head a mess of red oatmeal, while Lena screamed under the weight of the bald man with all the tattoos.  A wave of déjà vu washed over Paul as the other bikers struck him over and over with their lead pipes.  How many times had he been here?  A thousand?  Two?

Blood poured from a deep cut on his forehead into his eyes.  They burned and blurred, but he refused to close them.  One leather-faced animal wound up like a major leaguer and—

***RESET***

When pantsing isn’t enough…

In the universe of authors, there are really only two forms of intelligent life: “plotters” and “pantsers”.  I admit it—I’m a “pantser”.  I open my Surface, fire up Scrivner, and let the words fly without a single thought about the plot.  Sure, I have an overarching whisper of a hint of a possible idea, but I rarely know the complete picture going in.  In fact, a novel I have been working on for years is mired in writer’s block hell because the entire story is already in my head, and I can’t put it on paper well enough to do it justice.

I usually start in the middle of the action, pulling a character out of thin air, place him/her on the page, and start throwing crap at them until they react.  No matter how detailed I make my character sketch, though, the damn buggers always seem to have a mind of their own.  Sometimes a new character will just barge into a scene without even asking, mucking up the grand schemes of my protagonist.  I rarely know what will come out of their mouths until I type the words.  A few have even refused to exit the story when their fifteen minutes is up.

What happens, though, when pantsing isn’t enough?

I once wrote a serialized novel for the website Channillo and reached the painful conclusion that I have to at least plan better.  I like to write a chapter in a single shot, then go back and revise, sometimes not reconciling plot holes with earlier and later chapters until the first full revision.  Sometimes I move scenes around or add new characters.

That simply can’t happen when you’re posting individual chapters online as soon as they’re finished.

Sure, I can make cosmetic corrections such as spelling, grammar, or some minor word choices.  What I can’t do is change the plot after the fact, since doing so makes everything your audience has read wasted effort.  That’s a great recipe for losing readers.

I remember a certain television show based on a bestseller setting up a major character, with a major storyline that should have had an arc that lasted at least to the final season, only to see it all wiped out in a single scene.  Worse, it made every scene leading up to that completely pointless.

I nearly threw a book at the screen.

Don’t be that guy.  Those writers make me see red.

Ugh…

Cover reveal…

Just a quick note to show you guys the cover to my first horror novel, The Ward. I plan to release this in both print and Kindle formats in February. I’m also trying a new size format for this book, making it more like something you’d find in a bookstore–something a bit more pocketable.

Comments are welcome!

Novel excerpt–The Ward

This is my first horror novel and will be out next month. This scene isn’t scary, but it is momentous…


The storm raged through the night, the wind and driving rain a thunderous white noise drowning the bitter thoughts in my head like a bag of kittens thrown from a bridge; it was the first good night’s sleep I’d had in months.  While most people hated or feared the powerful storms that lumbered across the Gulf Coast, I’ve always found them comforting.  Storms in Southeast Texas—what we lovingly refer to as “the Golden Triangle”—are usually brief torrential rains that roll overhead like a runaway freight train.  Some, like last night’s, drift across the sky’s arch in a lugubrious crawl, dumping an ocean of water, scouring the landscape; clearing it like a house painter preparing for a fresh coat.

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