Sunday, March 14, 2010

short, sweet, and to the point

My wife has given me the most marvelous incentive to post today. If I’m not half done in a half hour, she’ll introduce me to Mr. Baseball Bat. Has there ever been a more loving and supportive spouse?

Today we’re going to step away from the dark and the drear. I’ve tried writing dark and drear, and believe me, I suck at it. Why? Well, horror finds its power situationally, in setting and mood. It paints a room in shades of black and off-black, and then puts up a sign that says ‘You are here.’

The problem is, I don’t write situationally, I write character(al)(ly). And I like to make up my own words, too. But I do write short stories, more and more as time goes on. In the beginning the secret was comedy, or at least, an attempt at comedy, as anyone who’s read my short stories Chasing His Own Tale and Boys Will Be Boys can attest. (Assuming they’re honest.) (And kind.) And if you haven’t read those great stories, click on the links and do so. Go ahead, I’ll wait.


Ah, welcome back. The reason for the comedy is simple. One ball, some flippers, and a bit of skill can keep the player going for hours. Whoops, sorry, I came up with the pinball metaphor while you were gone. Comic stereotypes are like the pop bumpers, you see, and…oh, forget it. The point is, you don’t need a lot of action to make it look like a lot of action, as any politician could tell you.

Buy it here, now. It's fictionwise!

Over time, the comedy in my stories has dropped away considerably, but never completely, although there are some people (Karen) who will tell you that I’m a comic author. I’m not, really, I just have a keen sense of the absurd, and I’m very observant. Reality can be much stranger, which is why my later stories (nice segue, eh?) are much more rooted in the real and the weird. Sandi von Pier, the star of Off the Map is completely real, but let’s face it, reality TV? How real is that? I just made it…unrealer. And Ex Libris, the sort-of sequel to Off the Map (which is published in the Triangulations anthology, for those of you who clicked the link to BUY NOW and didn’t understand what you were looking at), is set in my own library, even though I don’t think the librarians there are secret commandos.

By far the least comic of all my short stories is Bite Deep, and it’s no surprise that it was the hardest to write. Of course, it didn’t help that I had to get it done in two weeks. Well, that and the fact that it tried to combine three of the world’s great mythologies into a 4000-word short story about vampires at Christmas. And succeeded, I’ll have you know!

So I guess the takeaway from all this is that writing short stories is hard work, that can be accomplished in more than one way, and that we should all try to get along because life is short and there’s no time to waste fighting each other when we could all be doing something much more pleasant like reading my books.

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