Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waffles R Us

So, I'm going to waffle on my deadline.

I had set Dec 1st as the deadline to get stories in on the Shades series. As it turns out, I have written three in the past month and a half, and I'm working on a fourth one. With that kind of progress happening, I can back up the deadline.

Besides, I now have a real vision of the way I want the anthology to be, and I'm even starting to contemplate the forward for it. I want it to be nothing but ghost stories. Good ghost stories. So I'm going to to take the extra time to get that done. The bonus to that, is each non ghost story that gets bumped out of this anthology, counts as a head start on the final count of stories in the next non-ghost story anthology. So that's a win too.

Anyways. I'm working hard and making progress. So I'm happy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hammering the Keys.

I'm going to pull a marathon writing session this weekend. The idea is to try and finish the ghost story I'm currently working on, and maybe even the one I shelved earlier this week. I've just come up with a good ending to the current one, so that bodes well. Things always flow faster when I have a solid picture of the destination. The other one still is hazy on the ending part, which was slowing me down so I jumped to writing the current one.

But even if I finish them both, I suddenly face an unforeseen problem. Or at least unforeseen because I didn't stop and take strict account of what I had written.

I had forgotten that one of the ghost stories I had already intended to include in the Shades anthology wasn't really a ghost story. It was something else that happened to come across as a supernatural phenomenom to the main character until she figured it out at the end. So my ratio of 6 ghosts stories to 2 non ghost stories is actually 5-3. Even if I finish both of these this weekend, there will still be a black sheep, so to speak.

I'm going to have to think hard on this. I want to get something published soon. But on the other hand, I really wanted this anthology to be nothing but ghost stories. I'm even starting to conceptualize the foreward to it, on the basis that it will be all ghost stories. So at the moment my solution is to try and finish the stories I'm working on, and trying to go to the well one last time.

If I can finish the rough drafts to the two I have this weekend, that will give me three days until my self imposed deadline to try and come up with one more. But it has to be good. This anthology will have my name on it, so no filler crap posing as fiction. Oh well, I'll just work my tail off and see what I've got on Dec 1st.

I can do this.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crunch Time

Alas, poor Muse. I knew him Horatio...

Okay, actually just the reverse is true. After my muse taking an unwelcome holiday for the summer and most of the fall, it has returned. It's been giving partial responses, but that still counts as inspiration.

And with a self imposed deadline approaching, those flickers of inspiration are good things.

I have nine days left, before I "put to bed" the final story selection of Shades. I have six ghost stories, two monster stories...and I'm hoping to replace one or both of those monster stories with ghost stories as well. I now have three idea for stories, that me. But the deadline looms. And now I have the kids home all week for their Thanksgiving break as well.

So this is going to be tough.

But I'm going to plow ahead and stick to my deadline. I think I can do this, and if necessary can still go with what I've got...the 6-2 ratio. It's time to get something done.

I'm really thinking of writing a foreward and afterward to this collection as well. It will be some observations on ghost stories in general, and on what I was trying to do with the stories in this anthology. We shall see. For now, I need to just focus on writing while trying to also do what needs to be done to get through Thanksgiving.

Wish me luck :P

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ghosts and Novelettes

I've been downloading and reading a lot of ghost story anthologies for the dual purpose of researching the genre, and to get inspiration for my own work. What I've discovered so far, after going through a couple of collections, is that most ghost stories aren't really very scary.

Now a lot of that is due to presentation. It seems like a lot of ghost stories are told from this detached "just the facts ma'am" point of view, as if that adds some kind of authenticity to the story. Many of the older ones do this, especially the turn of the century ones from authors like Ambrose Bierce and Algernon Blackwell.  They are interesting reads, just not much in the way of suspense.

And most modern horror short stories aren't ghost stories at all. So that left a bit of a hole in my research effort.

I wonder if part of that is due to the ghost needing to be a character in the modern story. Short stories nowadays have to be five thousand words or less usually, which makes a big problem for the writer when it comes to character development.  A giant snake or mutant rat doesn't need much of a back story to be scary, since their very existence is supposed to be the scary part. But a ghost without a backstory just doesn't work very well...and back story eats into that precious word count.

This is one of the reasons that the Shades anthology will be indie when I publish it. Several of the stories are eight, ten, or even twelve thousand words long.. They need to be, for the ghost to have both character and impact AND for me to build a scene with suspense. So they are novelettes, which is a fancy word for the aforementioned seven-thousand to seventeen-thousand word story. I'm hoping the new indie market will see a resurgance of that form, since I think it allows the brief experience of the short story combined with the more in depth experience of the novella. Novelettes just fell out of fashion a long time ago because they took up too much space in pulp magazines.

Anyways, I'm still hunting for one more story for the Shades anthology. I've got "A Long, Cold Forever of a Night" out being read by proofreaders, then once I hear back from all of them I'll start the polishing work on it. Then it's back to hunting that one last story. Here's hoping I come up with something good soon.