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Sci-Fi flash fiction

Space tore open. A massive flare of exotic radiation danced across the spectrum as a leviathan powered it’s way through the jump gate singularity.

The Terran Hegemony warship Agamemnon erupted; Plasma drives flaring as she accelerated away. Along her flanks, armoured covers retracted from weapon batteries as she woke for the fight to come.

“Transition complete Admiral” came the voice on the bridge.

“Release the frigates; prep for fighter wing launch. Find me the targets.”

“Aye sir.”

The Agamemnon’s attendant battle group, the frigates Encroacher, Comet, Hesperus and Eclipse detached from their parent carrier, each powering forward and prepping their own batteries like attack dogs baring their teeth.

“Battle group away; we have acquired targeting returns.”

“Clear the fighters for launch, get me a full spread of torpedoes ready, maximum yield”

“Aye Admiral”

Shielding retracted along the ventral hull of the Agamemnon, exposing her launch bays. Shrike class space superiority fighters and Mauler class torpedo bombers launching on bright plumes of plasma exhaust like seeds spat from a pod.

“All wings report attack formation. time to target 10 minutes and counting; Torpedoes loaded and ready, Main battery targeting reports locked and ready.”

“Excellent. Any response yet?”

“Picking up engine flare Admiral, looks like they are tying to run.”

“I’m not having that. I want them gone. All batteries, All torpedoes. FIRE!”

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Humorous title goes here…….

So; last night I finished the entire* first draft of my short story Sprawl Run intended for the short story/first line competition in writing magazine (www.writers-online.co.uk).

It’s the first time in years I’ve actually finished a story; even though it’s a little over the word count and needs editing and a serious polish before I send it on it’s way.

Plenty of time yet, the deadline isn’t until mid-January.

Interestingly, it was a similar process for me to working on my various warhammer roleplay campaign ideas – Once I’d got started, the ideas started flowing and I got into the groove the words flew by.

In the end I had to drop a couple of scene ideas as there just wasn’t enough room in the format I was working to; although I may expand on it later or maybe work them into another story. Maybe a sequel?

What struck me (and again, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as the same thing happened once I got started with rpg work) was how much it fed into itself and how many ideas just a couple of characters and a couple of scenes can generate.

The overall story throws up in my mind a lot of questions about the two characters and how the whole situation came to be; What happens after; What’s the relationship between them; What have they done before. For example the quote:

Caspar chuckled. “That’s what you said in Kiev, and look how that ended up”

Tell me your not wondering what happened in Kiev? Shall I write that one at some point, or leave it as these characters ‘Noodle Incident

Not having the freedom of writing however much I felt like or a full length novel word count, I was forced to keep the focus on a relatively small window in time (I think it works out as about half an hour of in-character time, with a little bit set later in their day).

Because of the questions it’s raising even before an edit, I’ve laid the groundwork for other shorts I can write in the future if I want the characters to flesh out even more.

Overall though, there was the satisfaction of actually having finished a draft.

Something I’ve been saying I’m going to do for years now.

Heck I brought my current laptop in 2007 based on how useful it would be for writing etc.

It’s a small, faltering first step, But it’s a step.

*The half a first draft in my previous posts doesn’t count

Future of Storytelling, Week 2

YOUR TASK IN GENERAL

Please pick any existing serial protagonist that you know very well, and use the attached PDF/the form below to create a character profile. This profile should include his or her most important traits. Please post the ANSWER below this question post.

This is helpful because…
a) …you can compare this profile to that of other protagonists.
b) …you can learn how serial characters are built and why some characters work better than others.

YOUR TASK IN DETAIL:

  1. Whether it is desires, enemies, professions, hobbies, religions, behaviorisms or else: Please copy and fill out the form with all the info you got from watching the show. (the list is also downloadable via pdf) Maybe it helps to rewatch one of the episodes first.
  2. Think about what makes this protagonist worth following through a whole series of episodes. What is it that HOOKed you?

YOUR CHARACTER PROFILE LIST

Gender: Male
Age: Never stated but late 30’s would seem about right
Physical Description (Size, Weight, Defining Attributes…): Tall, lanky, generally dishevelled and scruffy. Mop of black, unkempt hair, usually needing a shave
Personality/Nature: Curmudgeonly
Ambitions/Desires: To be left alone with his books, drink and smoke
Is mostly seen as: A grumpy, hermitlike almost scrooge character
Sees her/himself as: Friendly, helpful generally all round nice guy
Loves: Books, wine (Or any boose), cigarettes
Believes in: The general moral decay of society
Trusts: Himself, his friend Fran
Fears most: customers, being exposed to the real world
Fights for: depends if he’s drunk or not – if he is, it could be anything, if not it’s generally for a quiet life, and at one stage he fights to get his housemate back after he has kicked him out when he realised how much he missed him.
Hates: Customers, people who read books. People in general
Most important event in life up to date: Getting his bookshop. The supposed ‘death’ of his fiance
Most influenced by: Boose & Fags – also his best friends, Fran & Manny
Best Friends: Fran (Female, originally ran the next door shop) Manny – his housemate & general shop dogsbody
Worst Enemies: Himself.
Relationship/Family status: Had a Ma once
Social/Ethnic Background: Irish.
Occupation: Book store owner
Education: No Idea
Hobbies: Fags, Boose, books, shouting at customers
Special Skills/Talents: Incrediably resiliant liver, can unerringly throw a cigarette into his mouth regardless of distance. Capable of psycotic, yet non-lethal violence
Flaws: Doesn’t like people buying the books from his shop, doesn’t like restocking the shop, hates tidying, dislikes other people having too much fun
Disabilities: Himself
Special behaviourism(s), quirks,…: Can make clothes from Tax receipts, find any book in a pile almost instantly. Can insult someone almost endlessly seems to survive purely on boose, fags and books
Style (Dress/Life Style): Near Hermit/recluse, generally just want to be left alone by the world to quietly read his books. Always in a suit (Though dishelvelled and rumpled)

Name: Bernard Black
Nickname: Bernie
TV Series, this character is in: Black Books

Links:

Black Books on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0262150/

Black Books on Channel 4: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/black-books

black books

Man-Eater

This is a copy of the first (and so far, only) piece of creative writing I’ve ever felt confident enough to share on writing.com It’s something I wrote about 15 years ago now. I read a lot of Poppy Z. Brite’s work at the time, so that may explain the slant on the work.

Funnily, when I look at it now it comes across as more of a synopsis/summary than short story type of affair. I may work on expanding it to short story length.

If nothing else it’s kick-started me, which is good as I was having major blocks on how to get started.

Man-Eater

Martin is a 20 year old student, with a fairly wiry build and non-descript face, the sort of person who could easily be lost in a crowd. He has landed a job in a city pub during the summer vacation, he has been working there for several weeks, getting to know the landlord, Alvin, a slightly built, ephemeral looking person, in the process.

One night during the week, a woman begins to frequent the bar, she looks about 30~ish, fairly bulky, with a somewhat masculine figure.

After a couple of nights, she introduces herself as Karen, and starts talking rather ‘freely’ to Martin, giving him all the signs that she really likes him.

Eventually, Martin plucks up the courage to ask Alvin for a night off work, so he can take Karen out for dinner. Alvin acquiesces, and allows Martin the time off, but he also gives him not so much a warning, more of a piece of trivia, that Karen is allegedly somewhat of a man-eater, and that she may chew him up & spit him out.

After the meal, Karen suggests that they both go back to Martin’s flat, and, being a little the worse for wear from being plied with drink all night, Martin ignores Alvins ‘warning’.

Upon arriving at his flat, Martin directs Karen to the drinks cabinet, while he chooses what music to put on the stereo. When he turns back round, he finds two drinks on the coffee table, and Karen putting away a mobile phone.

When he asks who she was phoning, she tells him she was checking her answering machine.

About 15 minutes later, the pair are making out heavily on Martin’s settee, when Martin pulls off Karens top, and finds she has some fairly nasty looking scars on her chest. When asked what they are, Karen replies ‘their from the sex-change operation’.

Any further questions are forestalled when somebody arrives at the door. Martin goes to answer it but finds his legs give out on him as he gets part-way across the room.

As Martin passes out, Karen goes to the door and lets in the visitor. The last thing he hears are two voices, discussing how to get him into a van.

When he awakens, Martin finds he can move, but he has been strapped down to a bed, blindfolded & gagged, apparently in a moving van. Eventually the van pulls off & it feels to Martin that it travels down a dirt road for some time, eventually it stops, and two people come into the back of the van.

When one of them removes his blindfold, Martin see’s that they are Karen & Alvin. Reaching into a cupboard, Karen takes out a large kitchen knife & approaches Martin. When Martin looks pleadingly at Alvin the landlord simply says ‘Told you she was a man-eater….’

More Preposterous Elitism

I’ll admit it.

I seem to be developing an urge to do something about the apparent amount of preposterous elitism that seems to perpetuate many, many aspects of the writing community.

In a drive to expand my horizons and help myself along with my writing I’ve been looking for local groups* as well as online ones.

I locate one, that along with its own facilities has courses, workshops, classes. The whole 9 yards – everything someone starting on the writing path, or further along it could want.

It’s not expensive to join. works out at about £5 a month. Not that  much in this day & age really.

However.

On looking at the how to join, I inferred a fair bit from these little bits below (I’ve edited out any identifying information) Highlights are mine. 

To join, fill in our Membership Application Form and send it to us along with a short sample of your writing.

Alternatively you can contact us with any questions at xxxxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx or on 99999 999 9999.

In order to join, you must:

  1. live in or be connected with xxxxx;
  2. demonstrate a commitment to developing your writing;
  3. demonstrate a commitment to reaching an audience with your work (e.g. through publication or production).

Membership is at the discretion of the xxxxx Board of Directors.

Now, from this I had a few questions.

  1. What if you were either only just starting out writing, or did not feel comfortable sharing your work with others (short or long-term)
  2. What if you didn’t want to be published, but just wanted to join and learn more purely for writing for fun

From this, I inferred that

  • You have to already have been writing before joining (No beginners here ,Thank You!)
  • If you haven’t been (or didn’t want) to be published or produced then you were not considered a real writer and as such, we don’t want anything to do with you.

These are further reinforced by the ‘members’ snapshot on the website – All published in one way or another.

Just to see if I’m alone in this and have completely lost the plot, or if it reads the same to others I’m inviting comments below as well.

I’ve also emailed the organisation concerned with a link to this to invite them to respond if they wish.

*This is quite a large step for me, having suffered from social phobia for many years

Weekly Writing challenge: Dear Abbey

So, based on the challenge on: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/weekly-challenges/ I present:

The Monkey Ooks: Advice for your life:

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is “You never know what you can do until you try”, and the same person also said “With the proper motivation you can overcome anything”

Something that I can quite happily say has saved my life.

In an incident, which I now look back on with a good sense of humor and have a laugh about it, which (as you’ve probably seen coming) I’ll relate below.

Wind backwards in time mumble years to an 11-year-old me, plus one of my best buddies at the time, out in the fields around our home village.

In one field, all on its own we espy a bovine creature, happily munching on the grass, and being of an inquisitive nature launch into a good-natured argument about what it was:

“It’s a cow”

“No, it’s a bull, why would a cow be in a field on its own?”

“It’s a cow, I’m telling you. Look, you can see the udders dangling”

This went on in a light-hearted manner for a few minutes, until in our eleven year old brilliance we came up with THE PLAN*

THE PLAN

We would, using a long stick (For safety!) quietly approach the creature, contentedly chewing as it was and gently poke it in the dangly bit.

If it was a cow, it wouldn’t be fussed, and would probably barely feel it.

If it was a bull, it would be momentarily discomforted and go “Moo” **

So, armed with our stick *** we crept up behind the bovine, and gently, oh so gently prodded it in the dangly bits…..

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

“See it’s a cow!”

“Nah, we just didn’t prod it hard enough”

With this, the poor creature receive an almighty WHACK in the danglies.

The noise started deep down.

The bass rumble of pure, unadulterated surprise, mixed with anger, and as it turns out, and amazing resistance to the pain of a log in what turned out to be the Bulls testicles.

I’m pretty sure the bull turned on the spot. I’m not 100% on this as we’d already started running, after sharing an almost comical look at each other as the sheer depths of what we had just done sank in.

To the end of my days, I will never forget the thunder of the bulls hooves behind me as I ran for it. Far, far faster than I’ve ever done either before or since.

Part way through the panicked screaming and running we realised we were NOT heading towards the gate, but running pell-mell towards a lovely, solid 9 foot stone wall.

There was NO way I was going to be able to climb that normally.

Sheer terror must have propelled me up it, like a younger spiderman that had no wish to be trampled into a paste by a vengeful Bull From Hell****

So yeah….. even my rotund, unfit form can manage some amazing acts of speed and agility with the proper motivation.

I must admit to some surprise with just how fast the bull recovered from a log in the testicles. Any man out there who’s been whacked in them can attest to just how debilitating a solid whack can be.

*Yes, I know….. A plan in capitals is NEVER a good thing in the end.

** Shut-up. Just shut-up. It seemed a GREAT idea at the time.

*** well, 6 foot log would be more appropriate

**** Seriously, this is the best description of its expression as we looked from the relative safety of the wall top

Future of Storytelling: Week 1

In which I post my response to the creative task of the week for the Future of Storytelling Mooc:

The Task

Please think about which story you have read, seen, listened to, played or experienced has impressed you most in your life. … Which story can you still very well remember? Write down both, the summary of this story (what you remember of the story, not what Wikipedia says.. 🙂 and – on the other hand: – what made it so special to you that you can still remember it.


YOUR TASK IN DETAIL:

  1. Retell this story by giving a short summary of what you can remember of it. (in less than 400 words)
  2. Think about (try to remember) and write down what fascinated you most about this story. What can you remember best? What impressed you most? … Its characters? The locations? The plot? The style and voice of the story? Or maybe even the surroundings of how this story was told, maybe by your parents, grandparents, or maybe in your first self-read book? Tell us the story OF the story so-to-speak. (less than 500 words)

Your answer could be a simple text/essay … or maybe you prefer creating a story in itself, a poem, an info graphic,… about it. — Whatever suits you best!

For me, this is quite tricky. I don’t think there is any one story that has impressed me most. That said “In the mouth of madness” Is one story that I can always remember.

in the mouth of madness

In it, our protagonist, John Trent, an insurance claim investigator hired to locate the missing horror writer Sutter Kane who went missing while working on the manuscript for his next book (The titular “In the Mouth of Madness”).

This has caused massed riots around the globe as people cannot get enough of his works, even though rumors abound that they are affecting the “less stable” of his readers.

In his investigation Trent, accompanied by Styles ( a representative of the publishing house that hired him) tracks Kane down to the town of Hobbs End – a supposedly fictional town in which all of Kane’s novels were set. It further reveals that the inhabitants of this town know they have no control over their own actions, only that “thay are being written this way”. Implying that Kane is influencing their actions in the world by his writing.

Trent confronts Kane in his sanctum (A huge church, supposedly built on the site of dark rituals) to discover that he is only there because Kane wrote it, and his role in the new novel is to deliver the finished manuscript. It isalso revealed that it is not his writing, he is a conduit between this world, and Eldritch Horrors from beyond (A nod and reference to the work of H.P Lovecraft) and that the more people that read his work, the weaker the barrier between our world and that of the horrors becomes. Kane then proceeds to tear open a rift in space to the abyss beyond, and with Styles reading the book describing Trents actions exactly he flees from the creatures with the manuscript.

Trent then destroys what he believes to be the only manuscript and reports back to the publishing house, much to their surprise as they state he delivered the manuscript to them 3 months before and that the movie is due out next month for those who don’t read the book.

On finding a poster for the movie featuring himself, Trent finally snaps and murders a fan of Kanes as he is coming out of the bookshop. A crime for which he is committed – The movie itself starts with him being committed and we see it through the medium of him recounting the story to a psychologist as, in his words “It’s getting worse out there” as the barriers weaken and people mutate as the horrors pass through and take over our reality. The final scene is set after Trent is able to escape the asylum following something involving the creatures and the asylum – a scene where we hear rather than see the action.

The final scene is Trent in an empty cinema, watching the movie of the book, which starts off exactly as the movie we are watching did and essentially, is the movie we have just scene. Implying that the entire thing was created to complete the transition of the creatures and the end of the world.

What fascinated me about the story wasn’t the gore, or the monsters (You barely see them in fact), but the way it was told. From the point of view of the character inside it, who knew he wasn’t insane, but knew that no-one would believe him as the story was so preposterous and outside of the realms of ‘Normality’. It also, in my opinion is the best film that can claim to be an adaptation/influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, as up to that point Hollywood had taken his stories and turned them into standard horror/slasher schlock. Which misses the psychological point entirely. Examples of other H.P. Lovecraft sories that have been translated very, very badly to film:

The Dunwich Horror:

Movie on Amazon:

Kindle edition of the story on Amazon:

Audiobook on youtube:

Herbert West: Re-animator

Movie on Amazon

Kindle edition:

Audiobook on Youtube

Part of the appeal for me, is likely what made it a bit of a flop at the box office – It’s not got a happy ending. In all the horror movies I’ve seen, the antagonists tend to be dumb almost to the point of being retarded and wanting to destroy themselves. In the mouth of madness has a much more feasible (I would say realistic, but I’m not sure that’s the best choice of words) outcome, especially when compare to something like ‘Scream’

Additionally, a lot of the creatures/events/things in the film are left to the viewers imagination. A rather nice touch to my mind as most people will be able to picture far worse creatures and scenes than even the most imaginative creature designer. It also means that it is a little more of personal experience and personal horror as the audience is required to actively participate in picturing what is not being shown. After all, how often have you seen a horror/mostor movie, only to be dissapointed when the mosters are finally revealed and it’s a rather disapointing rendition of a man in a rubber suit?

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