Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Eels are really slimy!

Kelly A. Harmon and an Eel she caught.I finally got a chance to go fishing with my Dad this summer, and what do I catch? An eel.

This one was about two feet long, and as big around as a homemade kielbasa. It pulled like hell, bringing it in. I thought it was a much larger fish, but my dad could tell right away what it was, dancing across the water as I reeled it in.

I’ve never caught an eel before, and I must say, I was vastly disappointed.

Except: now I’ve got more fodder for stories. This thing will come up somewhere, I’m certain.

I never knew eels were so slimy. Yeah, I knew there was a slime factor involved, but not *this* slimy. I swear.

While taking it off the hook it wrapped several times around my arm. I let the slime dry there, thinking I could brush it off, or wash it off easier once it dried.

Not so: there was no brushing it off, or even peeling it, like a facial mask.

I had to resort to washing. And when the dried slime got wet? It reconstituted. Ew! I had to scrape it off. Soap did not cut it.

Definitely story fodder there: Perhaps human-sized zombie eels able to spit venomous slime… Maybe land-walking eels with slime that burns through everything, who come to take over the world (or at least summer camp. A good horror story always starts at summer camp, eh?)

I’ve got to think about this…

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Writing Prompt: Check Your Morgue or Trunked Files

Virginia Pilot Ledger Newspaper MorgueMy background is journalism, so naturally I have my own morgue.

The “morgue” in newspaper parlance are the file cabinets holding all the research materials, notes and photos that went into producing a news story. All the pieces are usually filed together in a single folder by year or story. Sometimes the photos have their own morgue. Depends on the newspaper.

Pretty inefficient, really. While a lot of those records are filed electronically now, most of it still goes down the same way because who has the time to turn scribbled notes and library research into electronic documents when you’ve got to write the next news story?

And really, that stuff almost never gets looked at again unless it’s a really big story that has repercussions years later and needs to be referenced again. Or, the newspaper runs one of those “Five years ago, Ten years ago, etc. columns.

Writers tend to have ideas folders (stuff where they put ideas they’ve had, but aren’t ready to be written yet, snippets of overhead conversations, inspiring photos, etc.) and “trunked” files: a place for those stories that were written, but never got sold for whatever reason.

I have another file I keep, my “Culled from ‘XX Manuscript'” file: this is the place where I copy and paste the stuff edited out of my manuscripts. It contains idle scenes, verbose paragraphs, misplaced character thoughts in long and short phrases.

It’s a file that makes me feel better when I’m editing: I can take all that “hard work” which should never see the light of day, and keep a record of having written it. I tell myself I’ll go back there one day and make use of it.

I’ve never, ever done so (unlike my morgue or ideas folders…)

But this past week while I was doing some major edits, I realized that that file contains a lot of good stuff even if it wasn’t polished enough — or well thought out enough — to use in the current manuscript.

It’s plenty good for inspiring ideas when you need a kick.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Raid your ideas folder or junked stories for a snippet, phrase, paragraph, description, etc. to get your juices flowing: we’re not looking for an old idea to use here, we’re reading until you find a phrase that sparks a new idea. Find it and write.
  • Kill two birds with one stone: edit something that needs to be polished. Take all those words and phrases you cut away and save them into another file. Likely, they won’t be ‘sparkers’ this early: they’re too fresh in your mind. Set them aside for a few weeks and then revisit. In the meantime: you’ve polished up some writing. Send it out!
  • If you don’t have ideas folders, trunked files, or writing that needs some editing (Welcome, beginner!) pick a book off your shelf — something you haven’t read in a long time, or something you’ve never read — and open it to a random page. Read until an idea is sparked.
  • If none of these ideas appeal, here area a few very short phrases from my latest edits. Feel free to use them for your own stories:
    • “I’m damn tired of not getting my money’s worth.”
    • So, what did he want me to do about this?
    • It didn’t matter why the old man told him the story: he didn’t want to hear it.
    • …stiff and away from the window…
    • Chasing women was something he’d never had to do
    • Convinced he could do no more for the creature than make her comfortable, he…
    • The priestesses had long controlled the northern parts of the continent because of…

Good luck!

Photo Credit: A story about the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch newspaper morgue.

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

The Best of Intentions…

When I got home from the day job today, I was going to:

  • bake three dozen cookies
  • finish up the soap-making I’d started for gifts for Christmas, and
  • whip out a blog post

I started with the blog post, and it’s 9:25 p.m…. Where did the time go?

I did manage to finish the knitting project I’ve been working on for several months (should have only taken a few weeks, but who has the time?) I’ll post a photo when I can find someone to take the picture. Maybe next week.

I did come across an interesting web page useful for anyone looking for short story ideas. (I’d planned to use it in an another post, but it’s too good not to share now.)

Here’s the link to Short Story Ideas where, according to the site owner, flashes of inspiration are only a click away.

The site has several idea generators, including first lines, story titles, characters and scenarios. For those more visually attuned, there’s even a random image generator. If you don’t like what’s generated, a click of your mouse will provide an alternative.

The web author touts it as a short story idea generator, but it could be used for novels or even poetry just as handily.

I promise to get my post on generating story ideas finished by…next week. In the meantime, I’m off to wrap packages and sip some egg nog…