Tag Archives: stories

The Death of a Year

Let’s see if I can remember how to do this.

We’ll start with an opening sentence and take it from there.

Oh hi! I don’t really know if there are people who still read this. It’s been about, oh, two months since I last updated. I’ll make the assumption that everyone who reads my blog assumed that I had died over that little break. Well, I’m not dead. Far from it.

I’m here to do what’s likely to become the annual tradition around here. I’ll weep about my failures over the last year and make promises to do better next year.

Actually, you know what, let’s do this up right. Let’s not talk about failures. It’s boring, it’s whiny and no-one likes reading that. Let’s do the opposite of that. So here it is. My top five list of awesome shit that I did.

5. I killed three bookstores and a nationwide bookstore chain in the process. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Dylan, that’s…not such a good thing.” But it had to be done and I made sure it gone done smoothly. No one died, product got sold and there are people all over the city with Borders bookcases in their homes cause I did my job like a ninja. A retail ninja. And I did while remaining sane.

4. I submitted a whole crapton of stuff to be published. None of it got published, but that’s not the point. After a few years of sitting around and not doing anything with my writing career, I actually got out there and started things up again. It’s awfully hard for me to get going once I’ve stopped doing something (see: this blog), but by God, I did it.

3. I read a metric-crapton of books. For those of you who use Imperial measurement, a metric-crapton is a lot of books. Every book I read helps me be a better writer. You know what else helps me be a better writer?

2. I started writing stories again. I hadn’t written a new piece of fiction in almost a year and I finally got back up on that horse. But! The biggest piece of news from the previous year?

1. I self-published a book. It’s still there on Amazon and for even cheaper now. You should go buy it if you haven’t done so already. And, if you want it in paperback, then, holy crap, you have that option now too. There’s people out there, right now, reading my work. Bam.

So that’s sounds like a pretty well seized year. Sometimes I’m pretty bummed about how a year went and I’ve been feeling that a little bit the last couple of weeks. But, you know, looking at that list there, I think I can live with how 2011 went. I’m ready for even bigger things next year.

Just…please, no more store closings.

Dylan

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Filed under Day-to-Day: What's Going On, Events, Releases and New Things

Necessary Excess

Stephen King recommended that after writing the first draft of your story, you should then cut out at least 10% during the initial editing process. This is to deal with the word bloat issues that most writers have. Usually, folks have a tendency to write way more than is necessary; too much dialog, too much description, just too many words.

Luckily for me, I don’t have this problem. No matter what my problems are as a writer, you’ll never hear someone say my stories are too long. Instead, everything I write reads like its been stricken with anemia. If I describe a character to you, you’ll know his or her gender and that’s about it. Want to know if he’s tall or ugly or robust or misshapen and horrible? Too bad! Use your imagination and fill in the blanks yourself, I’m busy moving onto the next thing.

Interested in the backstory behind that shadowy mysterious figure? Suck it. Backstory is for pansies. We’ve got frontstory to deal with and I don’t have time for explaining the whys and hows of things. The story needs to get told and it needs to get told in under 3,000 words. Anything else and I’m asleep.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares my beliefs with regard to how a story should be told (as quickly as humanly possible). I need to learn how to embellish and elaborate on my tales of horror and do so without just vomiting up superlative, excessive, redundant and purple prose.

This is long enough.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics

Portrait of a Writer’s Block

It is not without trepidition that I start this post. Not because I’m concerned that I’ll reveal some deep dark secret, one that will shock the world and cause my friends to abandon me in droves. Nor am I concerned that I’ll dissolve in a misty, murky jumble of emotionally driven platitudes and cliches, vomiting out angst onto the screen for everyone to see.

Both would actually be preferable to the reality: which is that I am devoid of idea, absent of thought and bereft of creative jots.

At the most, my brain holds an iota (but no more) of concept, lurking somewhere in the back; a thing, frail Phantom, waiting in the wings to deliver The Idea. I can hear him, just a murmur, a whisper of notion.

But so far, he’s not saying anything that I can hear.

So I keep writing, in the hopes that he’ll speak up before I hit the end. But it’s becoming more and more unlikely that he’ll make an appearance. Deus ex machinas are so rare in real life. No shadowy figures standing in doorways who step into the light to reveal it’s the hero that everyone thought was dead. No cavalry, who conveniently remained hidden behind a hill until they were most needed, and then burst onto the scene to the joy of the buxom woman and the desperate gunslinger, their backs to canyon wall while fearsome injuns prepare to pepper them with arrows.

I’m getting closer to the end now and still nothing. I fear my Phantom idea has exited, in hopes of finding greener passages in which to burgeon. Which leaves me to dig deeper, trying to find the words to end this entry, releasing both you AND me from this shapeless purgatory.

In cases such as these, it’s always best to just go with the cliche. That’s why they exist after all, to provide refuge for those who cannot find the words to describe something.

So let’s cap this off with two little words and you can be on your way. Leaving me here, still looking, still hoping, that I’ll come up with something to write about.

THE END

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics

Scaring Myself

I’ve always been interested in looking at the types of horror that I write about, because I think it says a lot about the kind of person I am, about what makes me tick.

I have a tendency to steer clear of anything that’s spiritual. Ghosts do not scare me. Haunted houses scare me even less. If there’s one type of horror I stay away from, both as a reader and a writer, it’s the Haunted House trope. Beyond the fact that I don’t think ghosts are scary, the solution to a haunted house is so mind bendingly simple, that I lose all interest in following the trials and tribulations of the characters. Just move out of the goddamn house! You’ve got a problem, it stays tied to one geographical location, then MOVE. Problem solved.

(Small digression, favorite haunted house novel, The House Next Door, which basically obliterates all my complaints with the genre. Check it out.)

I also tend to stay away from the Classical Monsters tropes: no vampires, no werewolves, no mummies. There’s just very little that can be said about those monsters. They’ve become so embedded in our pop culture, that they’re no longer truly scary. And, lest you forget, horror is about scaring people. This seems to be something modern filmmakers have forgotten.

If I can think of a new angle for werewolves and vampires, then I’ll run with it. But for the most part, I think those guys have been thoroughly tapped out.

My own personal fiction focuses more on either madness or some Lovecraftian terror. By Lovecraftian, I don’t necessarily mean ancient Gods living beneath the ocean, but strange, metaphysical horrors that lurk around and under the shadows. That appeals to me on some level because there’s at least a vague potential for it being a real thing. Not to mean that I think these creatures and demons and the like do exist, but so little is known about the universe, that the notion of weird little pockets of unreality at least sounds plausible. And that’s what makes things scary to me, their real world plausibility.

And this follows with stories about madness as well. Insanity is a very real, tangible thing. I mean not for me. I’m sane.

Right?

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Horror: Movies, Books, Stories and More