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The Writing Thread

posted by DAISHI on - last edited - Viewed by 3.1K users

Herein lies the Writing Thread! Usually I just post something brief and then allow the participants to engage one another, unshackled by rules like a meeting of Tea Partiers in a debate with Muslims.

However! I propose the following rules to the writing thread, and what this thread should be about.

1.) This thread should obviously be about your own writing.

Your post should be about one of the following things.
2.) A pitch. A story you're thinking about writing, ideas you're tossing around to solicit for feedback.

3.) Brief poetry can be posted in full. Just don't make your poetry a full length story.

4.) A short story you've written that you would like to post, in part. Since a short story can run 2000 to 5000 words, do not post in full. You may post sensible length excerpts, preceded by synopsis of that portion of the story for context.

5.) A long story or novel you've written that you'd like to post, in part. Since a novel can run from 80000 words to 120000 words or more, do not post in full. You may post a sensible length excerpt, preceded by synopsis of that portion of the story for context.

Things to avoid.
Don't get in a hissy fit about criticism. It's the only way to grow as a writer.

Don't just criticize to criticize. In other words, don't be a Debby Downer. List what you think a writer did well, in addition to criticism. Tone means a lot. Don't be overly negative in the tone of your criticism.

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  • 4e5466b7dc69f1314154167_blog.jpg

    I've just been asked to send in a portion of my manuscript to one of the agents I queried! Huzzah! The first step to publishing my first full novel is underway!

  • Indeed! Early days, but every step counts.

  • Oh yeah, plenty of steps left, but at least my foot's in the door!

  • The first five pages of my book, for your consideration.
    *****

    Chapter One
    There’s Another World Out There

    "I'm looking for maps of worlds that don't exist."
    The old man tending the counter of the bookshop hesitated a moment, hands looming over the stack of papers before him. His bushy eyebrows tilted upward as he glanced, curiously, at the lean figure walking toward the desk. He was a tall, well dressed man, an older gentleman though, certainly, no older than the ancient store owner. His hair and finely trimmed goatee were both a dirty grey, the skin around his cheekbones pulled tight. He was elegantly attired, dressed in deepening shades of black from his coat, to his tie and buttoned shit. A gleaming silver watch encircled his wrist, catching the rays of light pouring into the store. Its crystalline face tossed light all around the room, a diamond ring on his finger catching that light and reflecting it again, so that the strange visitor seemed to emerge from out of a glittering halo that parted as he stepped up to the desk.

    The shop owner chuckled for a moment as he considered the question, looking with some amusement at the stranger, the edges of his mouth creasing with a smile. "I'm not sure I've ever seen someone quite like you inside of my shop, stranger. You seem like the sort of man who could buy whatever you wanted from a much nicer store. You know, in the big city."

    This amused the gentleman, who smiled, tilting his head slightly as his eyes flickered across the mahogany surface of the desk. "I've never been one for avoiding small towns. After all, sometimes you find a diamond in the rough. Besides, what I'm looking for is unusual, and I've yet to find exactly what I'm looking for in the city."

    "Well, there's all sorts of unusual floating around on the internet these days." The old man shook his head, still chuckling, his gnarled fingers pushing aside the papers he'd been looking over. "Okay stranger, I tell you what. I'm not exactly sure how to answer you. I've got plenty of maps of course," he said with a wave at the magazine rack near the entrance of the store. "Of course, they're all real maps, of the only world we've got. Well, that and the city of course."

    "I know my way around Dallas well enough," the suited man replied, glancing at the rack for a moment before turning his attention back to the shop keeper. "The truth is, I need maps of places people have never seen." He hesitated, struggling for the right words. "Fantasy maps, I suppose, from stories. However, they have to be detailed, and as detailed as possible. Lovingly so. They have to grab the soul, the imagination. They can't be these mass produced, gamer's maps infiltrating every book shop from here to New York. What I need is something made, carefully and with the finest attention detail, so close to real that a man could imagine himself making a journey to the wonderful world he was looking at."

    "As close to hand drawn as possible then."

    "Yes, that's right. I'll get no good out of a cheap maps made to fill the pages of a videogame magazine. I need something authentic, as close to real as the fantastic can get. If I set this map side by side with one of earth, I'd expect to believe it was another planet I could travel to."

    For a moment the shopkeeper seemed impressed at the man's passion, though he was hesitant to respond, his teeth gently clamping down on his lower lip. "I truly don't want to disappoint you, you know, but I've got nothing hand drawn." His mischievous eyes shot to the back of the store as he waved a crooked finger in the air. "However, I think I've got just the thing you're looking for. A few things, actually. It's been some years since I pulled them out but I'm sure I've got some maps lying around somewhere. One of them may suit you. Now, mind you, they're from books written decades ago, when people cared about those sorts of things." His smile grew now, his body shaking with the excitement of any man passionate about what he did. "Yes, I'm sure of it!" he almost cried out, pulling himself off of his stool and settling onto the floor, his small figure almost a foot shorter than the suited man's. They stood in stark contrast against one another, the first short and lively, the second tall and stoic. "I'll go get them immediately! Just wait here."

    The well dressed stranger almost laughed, watching as the enthused elderly man raced away, zipping between bookshelves and vanishing into the warehouse where his goods were stored. The edges of the stranger's lips curled upward into a smile as his eyes moved to his watch, glancing at its face, the second hand ticking away the time. "I'm not going anywhere, my friend. I've got all the time in the world."

    ***

    Maximus Douglas, all of seventeen, wandered down the sidewalk of Waxahachie, Texas. His tossed and shaggy hair fell down in front of his eyes, almost blocking them as they scanned the pavement, his head pinned downward as he shuffled along the street. He counted the cracks as they passed beneath him, hands shoved deep inside of a green cargo jacket, its several pockets holding dozens of gadgets and trinkets that he picked up each time he went for a walk. Max was a collector of sorts, someone more interested in the world of his dreams than reality, and he enjoyed hunting for interesting and unusual items that he could call his own. They helped fuel his imagination, and could range from thimbles to old cards from trading games. He knew most people found his hobby odd, but Waxahachie wasn't the busiest town around, and sometimes it was hard for a young man his age to find things to do. It was south of the big city lights of Dallas, and really far north of anything else he considered important. Florida was a few hundred miles east, and California was a few hundred miles west. No, Waxahachie was sort of just 'there', in the middle of nowhere. It gave Max a bit too much time to daydream, which, it turned out as he got older, wasn't a good thing. Max was failing in school.

    It was depressing, an unspoken weight that was firmly hung from his neck and that dragged him further down as the school year went on. Everyone knew he was smart, including his parents. He might not be as smart as, say, his friend Heidi, but Max was pretty sharp. He'd always done well in math and English when he'd been in middle school, but at some point in high school he'd lost his way. It was hard to tell where and when it began, but for the longest time he'd had trouble fitting in with his classmates, and slowly, Max had started to spend more time by himself. He wasn't a jock, not by far. He got winded just going up the steps at his school, and while he was energetic, he had never been too good at sports. Footballs and basketballs seemed to have a love affair with hitting him across the head, and he didn't seem capable of developing the reflexes necessary to deflect their affections. Max did love being outdoors, but spent that time looking for things, or making up stories. His favorite pastime always involved books, reading them obsessively and jotting down his own ideas in a notebook he kept in his backpack, which followed him everywhere. That journal was filled not only with ideas, but sketches, and while it was his greatest pride, it was also his greatest worry. Whenever he wrote anything in it, he shielded the book from view with his arm, which he wrapped around the journal as if he were scribbling some great secret. What he wrote was important, at least to him, and the thought of someone else getting their hands on it was horrifying. That was the reason he never set his bag down, or ever left his notebook sitting by itself. He didn't need people thinking he was any stranger than they already did, and even the hint that someone might find and read his stories made his stomach rise into his throat. Just thinking about it made his stomach jog in circles.

    So he was not a jock, and not a member of any school clubs. Still, there was at least one organization that he enjoyed, and that got him outside and into the fresh air. One might think it was something involving art, or poetry or crafts, but it was nothing like that. In fact, it was the only organization he knew in the area that allowed him to get outside while also indulging his creativity. It was the Waxahachie Archeology Club. Given his love of odd trinkets and pieces, it was no small wonder he enjoyed going out with them, combing the earth for signs of arrowheads and spear tips left by the local native groups. The students didn't get a chance to explore dig sites too often, but they'd head out on the dry riverbeds when they could, breaking up the solid Texas dirt to see what they could find. One piece they'd discovered, an old arrowhead buried in what had once been a river, he now kept on him all the time. In fact, he wore it around his neck on a string. It was the only accessory he bothered with.

    The club had become one of the few places where he could go to have a good time. He'd met Heidi there, a fellow dreamer and thinker, but by far a better student who kept her nose in the books. She was famous for her string of perfect test scores and academic awards, achievements they gave out every month at the school. Max had never qualified for one. If they'd made one for best dreamer, though, he would have been the undisputed winner. He'd let Heidi see inside of his notebook once, and just once, at a time when he'd finally felt he could trust her. It had only been for a few minutes, but it had been long enough for Heidi to see a few of his drawings and read some of his story ideas. Afterward she'd had nothing but good to say, but Max didn't receive criticism easily, not even positive compliments. He'd been embarrassed just to show her the book, and he'd quickly put it away, ignoring anything she had to say about it. Every minute she'd held it had been one more minute he'd been unable to breathe. A lifetime of criticism about needing to focus more hadn't exactly made him the most confident person in his work.

    Heidi wasn't as much the dreamer as he was, but she was smarter than anyone else he'd ever met. Her father was a physicist, her mother a mechanic, and somehow Heidi had turned into a mathematically brilliant Ms. Fix-It who could repair just about anything, mechanical or electronic. She was so smart that his parents had actually hired her to tutor him, an endeavor that had only gone so well. The latest test results, which had just come in that afternoon, had been better that his past scores but not by enough. He was still failing his class, and his parents weren't happy. Frustrated, he'd taken to the streets, as he always did when he was feeling upset. It let him think without the risk of venting on his parents, and let him clear his head. As he often did when he was wandering around downtown Waxahachie, he found his feet taking him to the local bookstore. If there was one place in the world he could just lose himself for hours, it was in the comfy reclining chair of the store, a book in his lap and the warm light of the lamps glowing against the rich red wooden walls. He'd find an old classic, plop himself down into that plush chair the store owner kept in the rear, and just disappear into the story. It was the only way he had of really de-stressing from days like this.

    The familiar jingle of the bell always brought a smile to his face when he stepped inside, and the smell of leather covers and aging paper had always been a big part of the appeal behind his love of real books. He'd purchased a few novels on his digital tablet,, but there was nothing like the feel and smell of a physical, hardcopy book. Max loved the sensation of the cover in his hands and the scent in his nostrils whenever he opened the pages, the paper crinkling between his fingers. It was something he looked forward to every time he came to the store, and he instantly knew where he was heading. The old shop keeper waved to him with a smile as Max made a beeline for the back shelves, the wooden boards beneath his feet creaking as each step struck a soft sound throughout the quiet bookshelves. His eyes shot around the corner to his favorite section, where all the fantasy and science fiction was kept, the books that he loved most. Once there, he'd immediately started scanning for something he hadn't read before. He didn't know what he was looking for, exactly. He never really did, but that was the joy of book shopping. There was always something new to be found, and you never knew exactly what story you'd stumble upon.

    He quickly became lost in his search, eyes pouring over cover after cover, so focused that he barely noticed the door bell ring again. On an afternoon in the middle of the week, it was rare for the store to get many customers. Max was normally the only one. It was so unusual that anyone else might have paid attention, but the boy was too fond of his stories, and was intent on finding something to read. At least a few more minutes passed before he finally turned, only slightly, catching sight of someone in the corner of his eye. It was a tall, black suited man, a distinguished wave of grey hair atop his head, his suit light and expensive looking. Just barely, he could overhear the conversation coming from the desk, and though he didn't like to eavesdrop, he couldn't restrain himself.

    "I'm looking for maps of worlds that don't exist."

    Max's nose wrinkled. It was such an odd request, silly on the surface, yet intriguing. "Maps of worlds that don't exist," he'd repeated softly, eyes breaking away from the books in front of him, his face turning to observe the strange gentleman. The shop keeper was just turning the corner of the desk, walking through the rear of the store and vanishing into a door that led into the storeroom. Max had never been inside there, but in his mind he imagined a mammoth warehouse, filled with towers of books that scraped the rooftop like fingertips. The worlds he dreamt up were much more enticing than mundane reality. That fact, that he dreamt up these sorts of worlds, were exactly what drew him toward the stranger. Almost unconsciously he found himself walking toward the black suited individual, as if being carried along on legs that weren't his own. The older man, nearly seven feet in height, looked down at the much shorter boy.

    "Can I help you?" The man's voice lifted and hinted at an accent that Max couldn't pin, but that he found almost musical.

    "Uh, yes sir. I wasn't trying to listen in on you, but I couldn't help it."

    The man's eyes glanced toward the back of the store, hoping for the store keeper to return with greater speed, not less. "You mean you were eavesdropping," he said plainly, though he did not seem enthusiastic about talking to a teenage boy.

    "Well, yes. I didn't mean to though. It was an accident."

    "It was an accident that you listened in on my conversation?" His voice shifted downward, irked. "I suppose anything can be passed off as accidental if that's the case."

    "No, I'm sorry sir, I really didn't mean to."

    "It's fine, it's fine," he replied, brushing Max off with a wave of his hand. His fingertips went to the bridge of his nose, rubbing at it for a moment before he looked up again, forcing himself to smile. "I'm being unnecessarily rude. What is it I can help you with?"

    "I was just wondering what you meant, when you were asking about maps of worlds that don't exist?" Max stuttered, looking unsure of himself. "It's just such a weird thing to say. Are you talking about maps, like, in fantasy books or game guides?"

    "It's a weird thing to say, is it?" He echoed Max's words as he stared, curiously, at the young man. The man's fingers brushed at his goatee for a moment. "I don't know what to tell you, boy. I've got an unusual way of talking, that much I freely admit." He stopped, eyes locking with Max's. For a long moment he didn't break his gaze, as if he could see right through the boy. Max found himself suddenly terrified, shaken and yet unable to break away from their locked eyes. A cold shiver danced down his spine as he swallowed hard, feeling a lump swell in his throat as the man’s look held him. Finally, the stranger reared back, head darting away as he rubbed at his brow. Max nearly stumbled backward when their eyes finally broke their connection, a deep gasp escaping his lips. The man quickly turned back to face Max, his eyes taking on an entirely new character, with none of the hypnotic qualities they'd possessed just an instant before. "You're a dreamer, aren't you?"

    Max stared at the man a long moment, trying to find words, but only mumbled, "Yes. That's basically all I do."

    "There are worlds out there we can only explore with our minds, you know? In the windows of our soul, our imaginations, we can go places we can't in this monotonous reality we call our lives. I enjoy books, stories and maps. These are things that take my mind to other places." A smiled crossed his lips, that thin moustache of his lifting as he did. "I'd encourage you to keep dreaming, young man. That's all you've got to get by in this harsh world of ours. When life seems too boring, or too dark, your imagination can take you places your feet never could. It's good not to forget that."

    Max was about to respond when the sound of a door shutting caught his ears, the old shop keeper returning, a stack of lengthy parchments bundled up in his arms. The pair of them turned their attention to the back as the old man scurried along, back to his post at the front desk, arms dumping the documents onto its surface. "There we go!" the old man said with a satisfied grin, the papers, all rolled up with rubber bands at their centers, rolling along for an instant before settling to a halt. "All the maps I could find that I thought might suit you.”

    "Thank you kind sir," the stranger returned with a smile, looking to have none of the intensity he’d possessed just a moment before. "I'll take them all. And..." he turned to look at Max for a second, a glimmer in his eye. "I'll pay in advance for any two paperback books this good boy would like to have."

    The owner's smile stretched wide as he slapped the desk in glee. "Well what do you know, Max. Seems you came in on the right day."

    "Well, guess I did," Max replied, hesitant, his voice still quiet. "Thanks sir."

    "Think nothing of it," the man replied, tipping two fingers toward the boy, eyes gesturing to the rear. "Now, go pick out two books before I start to rethink my offer."

    Max nodded. "Thanks," he said one more time as he stepped away, feet pulling him back into the rear of the store.

    "And like I said, boy. Always keep dreaming."

    "Yeah, right," he'd barely managed to reply, shuffling away. Whatever had just happened, it had been strange. Max rolled his shoulders as he tried to shake off the cold that had fallen on him, like ice thrown down the back of his shirt. He couldn't quite put it into words, even if he was happy to have gotten free books out of the strange conversation. Still, as he went back to scouring the counters for something to buy, his eyes kept darting back to the stranger, glancing back every few seconds until he finally saw the man walk away from the counter. His eyes crept along over the covers of the books before him, jumping from title to title absently, without any purpose, as he continued to linger on the memory of the stranger's words. "Maps of worlds that don't exist."

  • Mailed my manuscript off today!

  • I'm currently reading some books on writing, (before I seriously think about writing something), and I was just curious if any of you guys know any good books on it.

    (I mean it doesn't just have to be writing books either. I think learning some screenplay stuff would help with overall designing)

  • If you want to write fantasy, nothing beats the DnD 3.5 DM manuals or the World of Darkness books (depends on what type of fantasy you want. DnD is high fantasy, World of Darkness is modern day gritty horror fantasy). Both provide lots of ideas and inspiration as well as ways of keeping the story away from cliched and overdone storylines. And they're also pretty good reads. And there's a bazillion of them for any topic you so desire.

  • @RetroVortex said: I'm currently reading some books on writing, (before I seriously think about writing something), and I was just curious if any of you guys know any good books on it.

    (I mean it doesn't just have to be writing books either. I think learning some screenplay stuff would help with overall designing)

    The best book on writing you can read is many, many books. Then you write many, many stories and get much, much brutal feedback. Do this for about 10,000 hours worth of writing, reading and feedback.

  • @DAISHI said: The best book on writing you can read is many, many books. Then you write many, many stories and get much, ch, much brutal feedback. Do this for about 10,000 hours worth of writing, reading and feedback.

    Good thing I have myself set up to get free books daily, (classic stuff via Moon reader, and modern stuff via this daily free book blog on Amazon. Mostly crap stuff but sometimes I find something of interest to grab for later (you can just change the amazon extension from. Com to Co. UK to get the UK version of the book page to download it >;-))) .

    As for the writing part, I think I'll stick to one story at a time. (after all some famous authors only ever wrote the odd book here and there. (content isn't everything you know.;-)) And I think this one I'm thinking about at the moment might be a pretty good one, once it's all fully planned out.

    I have the idea for the first chapter planned out already, (well, a lot more than that. I have the beginning, the ending and some key events and characters and lore. Just not quite enough to string it together yet) . In fact I think I may have already described it before.
    Just trying to write it out properly now.
    (which I'll admit is a odd challenge for me, since I have an unusual tendency to condense my writing as much as possible. Many assignments I run under word count because I just seem to say the same stuff as others a little more efficiently. Of course I don't want to babble, but that first chapter/scene/custscene/intro/splashscreen/level has to grab the audiences attention, so I really want to think hard about setting up an interesting scene to spark that curiosity and get that momentum going off the bat)

    No matter how I go about it, (already reconsidering how I should set it up! XD), I know what the first sentence is going to be:

    Two dark figures moved across the desert sand.

    (it just HAS to start with that line. It just popped into my head one day when I was thinking about that opening scene, and it has never left since.)

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