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What To Do with Isolated Time. Write a Short Story

I hope you and your loved ones are still staying at home; the best way to avoid catching the virus or spreading it unintentionally. I know it’s boring and scary but we must do it to stem the transmission of this horror virus.

Now about writing; you’ve maybe pictured yourself as one of those who will write a novel “when you find the time”. I know many people who have said this to me when they find out I’m a published writer. I believe that every one has at least one story in them. 
The buyer of a book (in the store or online) take three steps to determine to buy or pass.  They see the cover…hmm..this looks interesting. They flip to the back cover where there is most likely a synopsis of the story. Then the buyer flips to the first page of the story. IT BETTER BE GOOD!  Because that’s your last chance to make them buy your book. The first line of your story needs to grab them. Here’s a list of examples, using all genres. 

‘As I crossed the street I didn’t see the bus bearing down on me. I heard someone scream.’

‘I sat in the prison waiting room about to interview a convicted killer. What would he say to me? More importantly what would I say to him. I’d never met a murderer before. 

“Slow down, Al,” Vi screamed and laughed from the back seat. “You’re gonna kill us.”

‘My first audition since I hit Hollywood and what if I fail?’ Cold sweat slid down my spine. My eye twitched. ‘Next!’ A hard voice called out. 

‘The teacher grabbed my math work book and, marching to the front of the room, read my poetry aloud.’

‘As the saloon doors creaked back and forth, the trail weary cowboys backed away when they saw him saunter in.’

“Mother must be spinning in her grave,” Kitty muttered, as her chauffeur drove up the long driveway to the main entrance of the State Prison.

‘A large scaly head rose out of the muck. Dirty algae hung from the mouth, caught in its large teeth. A single cold,  green eye with dirty yellow flecks in it, stared at me.’ 

Excerpt from Winter of Murder  ©  (first page of the new mystery; I think it grabs the reader.)

“What?” Stella gasped.
“Where?” Raul, her husband, demanded.
“Alaska.” R.J., their first born had just informed his parents that he was going to Alaska for six months. Maybe longer.
“It’s a great opportunity, Dad. Not many internships are offered by this company, especially when I’m not going for a major in geology but to study the impact the mining industry has on spawning salmon.”
“My God. Alaska.” Stella whispered. Being a murder cop in New York City she was not shocked by much but this had certainly knocked her back. “So far.”
“How are you going to live? I hear it’s expensive up there.”
“I get a stipend. Meager but it will buy my necessities. Room and board are provided.”
“I guess we could find the money for your airfare.” Raul always supported his sons in everything they did.
“Not a problem, Dad. I’ve been saving and I’ve already purchased my ticket.”
“R.J! You’re going regardless of what we might have said?”
“Mi amor, R.J.’s a young man now, not your little boy. He’s of age and can go anywhere he can afford to go.” Raul kissed his wife’s temple.
“But, Alaska. And to a rough mining camp? I don’t like this.”
“Mom, it’s no rougher than some of the streets right here in Queens. And look what you do. I’ve spent my whole life wondering if you would be coming home each night.”
“Did you? Wonder? Oh R.J., we tried so hard to insulate you boys from the dangers of my job.”
“We weren’t stupid, Mom. Robbie and I both knew some crackhead could kill you.”
Stella eyes filled with tears. Partly for what her son was disclosing but partly because this beautiful, tall, lean young man before her was her son. And he was leaving for Alaska.
“Mi mujer Policía, it will be fine. Now that I think about it, it is a rare opportunity. To study his beloved sea creatures far inland. I hear the scenery is spectacular.
“When do you go?” Stella asked.
“Next week.”
“So soon.”
“Yes. But, I’ll be back before you know it, Mom. It’s only six months. The time will fly.”
“For you maybe.” Stella sighed. 

The same rules apply here, you have to create rich characters, an arch to the story and a resolution. With a short or long story, you have the liberty to write description for pages and pages. That’s not my favorite type of book; I much prefer snappy dialogue. But that’s probably because I write more dialogue than description. A story does not have the ‘time’ limitations that a stage play has. 

I write out of sequence frequently when writing fiction.  I may be in the middle of the book when the concluding chapters come to me. Especially the Epilogue. So I write it. Why not? I can always edit it. 
Example: (The chapter title lets me know that I created this chapter but won’t be certain where it fits in the story, if I use it at all.)

Sample: New Chapter ??? (c)

Gwendolyn Baxter sat at her desk, her chin in her hand. She had been the student counselor at Bayard for the past eight years. She listened attentively to the woes of a fifteen year old teen seated across from her. Her parents were stupid. Her teacher didn’t understand her. She couldn’t get a boyfriend. She knew her lover would love the looks of this girl. Tall, willowy, blond. Olivia.
“I know how it is with parents. Always on your back about something. Right?”
“You don’t know the half of it.” Olivia sneered. “If it isn’t my grades it’s the length of my skirt. Jeez.”
“Do both your parents work, Olivia?”
“Yes. Sometimes my mom doesn’t get home until late. I have to cook my own supper.” She sighed.
“How are your grades?”
“Average of a B minus. But that’s not good enough for them.”
“That’s pretty good. What’s their problem?”
“Who knows?” Another deep sigh.“Listen, a friend of mine and I are having a little afternoon get-together today. Why don’t you come? His house is just blocks from here.
“Oh, I don’t know⸺”Olivia hesitated.
“He’s very rich and always has gifts for his guests. It’s so lit. Grace is coming.”
“Grace Stern?”
“Yes.”
“We’re friends.”
“She always has a good time. Last week Geoff gave her some Gucci sneakers.”
“Really? That’s straight fire.”

Tune in for Thursday’s post, How To Journal
Did you miss part 1 of this series?
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A review: ‘Blood Day’ by Sarah Butland

BougvillasI was asked to review a short story, ‘Blood Day’ by Sarah Butland, a new friend on Facebook.

REVIEW: The hook at the beginning of this short story is effective. I wanted to stay and see where this was leading and it began to draw me in very quickly. The story is disturbing but very well written. Is our heroine in a state of a psychotic break or a genius trying to find herself and fit herself into a mundane and terrifying world?

Writer’s often say their characters are not a part of themselves but are themselves and that writing is
simply thinking on paper. Then I wonder why I didn’t think at all when I wrote as much as I did.’   

Sarah is a talented writer and it is my hope that she develops this into something more.~~ Trisha Sugarek, WriteratPlay.com