Friday, April 29, 2011

Story a Day Writing Challenge

Short story writers, May is Story a Day writing challenge month. The rules are simple. Write a finished story every day in May. You can read the details here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I've been thinking about pacing in a story and what effects the pace of a story. Here are my thoughts:

Sentence Structure
Short sentences are fast.
Long sentences with many many adjectives, adverbs, and other additional words can be slower than brown molasses in a cold, wet January to read, so that by the time that you get to the end of the long and convoluted sentence, you've completely lost the thought that the sentence was trying to convey to you and you have to go back and read the sentence again to figure out just what the author was trying to say. Where was I?

Passive versus Active voice
I was writing this blog post reads slower than I wrote this blog post.

A catalogue of descriptors reads slower than descriptors which move and act.

She sat on a soft, blue chair in the living room. The living room was lined with bookshelves. A television, dvd player, and VCR sat on top of one of the bookshelves. The window had sheer curtains. The carpet was brown. The walls were white.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ... yawn ... where was I?

In the living room, she lounged on a soft, blue chair. Books marched with military precision across the shelves lining one white wall. Sheer curtains fluttered in the breeze while the TV, DVD player, and VCR perched precariously on top of the bookshelves. A good stiff wind would knock them to the brown carpet waiting below.

Bah! That was crap, too, but I think you get the picture.


Similar to description, backstory which catalogues past events is slower than backstory which is active in the narrative.


This can be tension between two characters anywhere from a friendly debate between two friends to having Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in the same room.

Tension can also come from the environment. Dorothy following the yellow brick road is not as tense as Dorothy in the spooky forest. (Though horror writers can follow the butterflies on a bright and sunny day and have the reader hiding under the bed in fright.)

If nothing is happening and there is no hint that something could happen at any moment, then there is no tension. (Previously mentioned horror writers usually have some hint that things are not as it should be while following the butterflies on a bright and sunny day.)

Putting it all together

If you want to speed things up, then use shorter sentences with active verbs, ratchet up the tension, leave the backstory out, and make your descriptors move.

If you want to slow things down, then take the reader on a long and convoluted journey following butterflies on a bright and sunny day while passively cataloguing everything in the environment and the entire backstory of one of the minor characters.

Did I miss anything which effects pacing?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hoppy Easter!

Hoppy Easter!

For your Easter Sunday entertainment: US Marines Lip sync to Britney Spears "Hold it Against me" :)

And don't forget tomorrow all the left over chocolate easter bunnies and marshmallow peeps will be on sale. A good time for chocoholics to stock up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Battle With Inertia

The last installment in The Annals of Hypnosia, Battle With Inertia, is now up.

Something is wrong in the land of Hypnosia. It's too quiet. Join Serafyr as he investigates the cause of this disturbing phenomena here.

If you missed previous installments in The Annals of Hypnosia, then go here.

I hope you've enjoyed reading The Annals of Hypnosia as much as I have enjoyed bringing them to you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Traffic Jams on the Information Superhighway

I've been using the internet almost since its inception. Way back in 1995, the internet was really cool. I could spend hours and hours surfing the net finding really interesting stuff and boatloads of good information. Yahoo had a directory of really good websites. If you were searching for information on a topic, you could find it quickly and easily.

Then the internet went public and anyone who knew HTML could put up a website. The internet was flooded with hobbyist websites of dubious information, pornography, and storefronts. Searching for information became an exercise in frustration, university websites became my places to go for good information in addition to the directories.

Then Yahoo morphed into something other than a directory listing and Google began focusing on its search functions. The Universities realized that students were plagiarizing their webcontent for term papers and locked it away behind a gatekeeper. The professional journals also slammed the door shut on non-academics.

The internet has become a nightmare to navigate if you're looking for information on a scholarly subject like Medieval history. The road is filled with the potholes of amateur misinformation, storefronts selling you a book on the topic, and content farms. We crawl along connecting with our nearest and dearest seven billion friends on facebook and twitter. Spammers and hackers are having a field day getting into people's email accounts, facebook, twitter, etc. They even spam blogger.

AND NOW, NOW! they have figured out a way to spam the Kindle store.


It was only a matter of time before someone figured out a way to game the system.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Day Made of Glass

I saw this video last week over on someone else's blog. It's called a Day Made of Glass. It's produced by Corning and shows what the future may look like.

While I admit some of the technologies look rather cool, a couple of them left me feeling horrified.

The cell phone that lets you see who you are talking to and them to see you: Noooooo. With one of those, no more schlepping around the house in my sleep clothes.

The TV and internet interface in the bathroom mirror: Oh dog, no. The bathroom is the only place in the house where a mom can have five seconds of peace and quiet, and they're suggesting a TV and internet interface. My son may be grown and living on his own, but some things will always stay sacred spaces of peace and quiet.

I thought it was rather amusing that she had to use the GPS in her car to get to work. How is it that someone who is too stupid to remember how to get to work can get a job in the first place? Yeah, okay, the gps in the car picked up that the road was blocked and suggested alternate routes to where she was going. Still, I would think most people are intelligent to enough to know alternate routes to work without having to rely on their GPS.

But the most horrifying of all was that there wasn't a book or magazine in sight. Sigh.

If this is what's in store for the future, I think I'll buy stock in Windex.