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Found 8 results

  1. It's the Halloween Hunt Short Story Reveal Day on All Hallow's Eve eve! Which story will scare you the most? The rule was for authors to check their comments, then write a story being chased by their story creation. A criminal cyborg, a vengeful spirit... Who did they get? Read the following and find out. Don't forget to share your appreciation via some likes, comments, and reviews!
  2. Welcome to the final installment of Ask an Author. Yep, you read correctly. I’m out of questions, so unless I get a few new ones, there will not be a December blog entry. In the meantime, a member sent in a query for several authors. "Which is harder to write and why... short stories (so much has to be crammed into so little space) or a chapter story (so much research to get it right, like CJ and his environs or Donny and Louis in Mikiesboy's Changes & Changes Again?) @Carlos Hazday Unless it’s a throw-away flash piece, writing a short story’s harder than some chapters in a multi-installment story. Part of it, as you mention, is the need to cram so much into so few words. Just because it is short does not mean it should be incomplete. Leaving certain blanks to be filled in by readers’ imagination, does not absolve authors from the need to provide a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even when creating a slice-of-life tale, the need for a structure remains. If not, a shopping list could be considered a short story. Now, there’s an idea for a prompt. Anyone interested in writing a flash piece with ‘The Shopping List’ as the title? A chaptered novel or novella is definitely more difficult than a short story; mostly because of the time required to research, write, and edit. You ask us to compare an individual chapter within such a tale to a short and in many cases those can be easy. Every long tale has a rhythm; some chapters are full of action while others not so much. Those slower chapters can be easier to create. Giving readers a break from non-stop action allows us to write atmospheric chapters. A quick glance at past events, location descriptions, or small romantic interludes can round out the story and provide the breathing space needed before plunging back into the maelstrom. @Mikiesboy Which is harder to write and why? Wow, okay, let’s see. They are not really comparable; they are two different things altogether. It’s a skilled author who can write a good short story and that’s not just my opinion. Anyone who wants to or thinks they can write, should start with short stories (yes, Virginia, there are always exceptions to any rule). They help you learn plotting; help you find your voice and style. They will help you develop the skill you need so you can write that novel you want to write. Okay, this isn’t answering the set question. Short stories normally have one main character and plot, while novels have more and may have a number of subplots. Short stories are not shrunken novels yet they must have a beginning, middle/climax and end/twist. To me a short story should be around 7,500 words or it’s drifting into novella territory. That’s a chapter in some novels. Novels, though, should not be long rambling things that go on and on just to raise the word count. Unnecessary words, subplots, and the continued introduction of new characters, show up very quickly. They muddle things. Long descriptions, and character’s mental diarrhea (in other words, a lot of Telling) make your novel a long trip to Dullsville. But novels let you show your world to the reader, up close and personal. So, which is harder? The answer is both, each have their own personality, and needs. Each must be written differently, if they are to work. @AC Benus Right now I’m tackling a new genre of book, and the research needed to do an historical murder mystery is driving me insane! Well, okay, it’s not that bad, but it takes a lot of time. However, is an honest to goodness Short Story any easier than a novel? The two are not scalable. A novel can’t be boiled down without harm, and a Short Story cannot be “padded out” to 20 chapters without losing its soul. Both require individual types of inspirations. Short Story inspirations are probably rarer, which makes GA’s writing prompts such a valuable asset. Keeping in mind that real Short Stories should have twists at or near the end, one can look over the posted prompts and see if anything sparks. Once the idea comes, a Short Story can be organized and written in a few days. For me, it’s all about the drive to get it out. There is almost a kinetic buildup, and the story itself should flow easily if you are ready to write it. With novels, first and foremost, novelistic elements should be present. I guess these are unexpected turn of events as well, but very large-scale ones. Think of Oliver Twist. The boy runs away to London, and through some accidents, is eventually placed in very home of his dead mother, with his grandfather and aunt. Fate has stepped in, and we as readers – just like Twist himself – know nothing about this till the very end. Novels can do these things very well, where in Short Stories, they seem artificial. The why of it is, novels offer more room to explore and develop people, situations and relationships. But they take more time to plan and write. So, it is easier to get started on a novel, but easier to finish a Short Story. That is my backwards conclusion @northie Well, there's something to make me think. In my case, a 'short story' can be anything from micro-fiction (under 50 words) through to a tale that stands on its own but has in excess of 10,000 words. As you might expect, both extremes have their separate challenges as well as some similarities. I regularly post flash fiction pieces on my external blog, written to one or more prompts, which have to be 750 words or under. The prompts are posted on a Saturday; the entries have to be in by the following Wednesday. Finding an idea that fits exactly into the word limit is key. There's enough space to tell a complete story with all the components you'd expect, but it must be focussed, and pared back to the essentials. I have a chequered history in this respect. One of the worst comments you can receive is 'This is a great start'. It's difficult to let go of an idea when it can't be made to fit, no matter how many words I excise. Writing such a piece is an excellent discipline in being concise, showing, not telling, yet coming up with something that grabs a reader's attention. At the other end of the scale, finding a story to fit is still key. Yes, the canvas is larger, allowing more detail, conversation, and depth. However it must leave the reader satisfied that the story is complete: no hanging threads, no redundant characters. It has to gather momentum throughout, with little room for diversions. Questions might still remain – that's OK. Sometimes it's good to leave people wondering about what happens after the conclusion. I have much more experience in stand-alone shorts than ongoing stories. That said, my two chaptered stories are where I feel my learning is more apparent. One thing I wrote early on in my writing career was the first chapter of Never Too Late. Here I am, a little over two and a half years later, preparing to close the second volume. That story in particular documents what I've learnt. Quite apart from my increasing technical knowledge, this is where I've discovered story and character arcs. And becoming so wrapped up in my principal characters, they talk to me; direct the story almost. That depth of characterisation means I have to spend much more time discovering just who they are. You can't get away with the outline sketch that serves for a flash piece. The locales are another matter. I started out in Eric's story not naming anywhere; in a way the intimacy of the first few chapters doesn't make this a problem. Gradually it became more of an issue; this combined with my increasing confidence meant that when the second volume began posting, most places are named except for his home town. Yes, they're real places and what I describe bears some resemblance to reality. To come back to your original question of which is more difficult – my answer would be neither. Written properly, both long and short stories should challenge authors. I know they do me. @Geron Kees I have to say that I don't see much difference between short stories and longer ones, other than the time involved in creating them. I usually write long stories, anyway. I have written some stories that were planned as chaptered tales from the get-go. I don't think there is more planning for a long tale than then a short one. I research subjects as I need to while moving along, so while it does require more research for something longer, there is no more planning involved, because I start with an idea and simply create the balance of the story as I move along. I know some writers plot out the whole tale before they start, but I don't do that. So I'll have to say that neither format is more difficult, and that one just takes longer than the other. If anything, very short pieces are hard for me, because I generally wind up with more ideas I want to add, and have to stop myself before it gets out of hand. That’s it for now. I hope someone hears my cry for help, and we get to visit again next month.
  3. How did the month end so fast? We've passed the equinox, the seasons are changing, and it's time to share your thoughts on northie's story, Willpower. How did you feel when you read it? Then check out some of northie's feelings, thoughts, and maybe a few things you didn't know. Like... Why was northie frustrated after finding GA? 😲 You'll have to read on to find out! Of course, make sure you share your thoughts on the story too! Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point? It depends. I live in a small flat where an unmade bed isn’t out of mind. However on work days, I’m not one of these people who get dressed early to go for a stroll / walk the dog / have a leisurely breakfast. I emerge about 20 minutes before I’m due out the door with lunch made. If you think that’s not enough time to eat breakfast as well, you’d be quite right. The bed gets left to air until I return (or so I tell myself). On non-work days, I allow a couple of hours before giving it a cursory going over. What’s something personal about you people might be surprised to know? I’m not one for disclosing much about myself. From my writing, photos, and status updates, people can get a reasonable sense of who I am and what I’m interested in. Other than that, I’d struggle to find something surprising about my life to tell, because there isn’t anything. What brought you to GA? Reading gay fiction / erotica connects with me for reasons I’ve only recently unravelled. Like so many people, I started with Nifty. Once the novelty wore off, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the general standard of writing there. Browsing through their ‘Best of Nifty’ introduced me to other sites, of which GA was one. I lurked for a while, then joined, hoping nobody would notice me. Although I enjoyed the reading, and slowly coming out of my shell, the overriding emotion in those first few months was frustration. Why, I didn’t know, until I was introduced to writing. And all became clear. (I thought) This was the longest story you’d written (or shared) on GA when Willpower was posted for the anthology. Had you written anything this length before and was it a challenge? Funnily enough, it wasn’t. My first ever anthology entry, ‘The Bard’s Tale’, all 16,500 words of it, has that honour. Was it hard work? Oh, yes. With only 4-5 months writing experience (most of which was spent writing the quite simple opening chapters of ‘Never Too Late’), I embarked on this massive experiment. For reasons I can’t recall, my muse wanted the story to appear as a quasi-playscript. So I had to get my head round that, invent my alternative Earth, write American dialogue, and plot across a much wider canvas than I’d ever done before. It’s a piece I regard with affection, and I learnt a huge amount while writing it. Do you prefer to write any general length of story over others? Why/why not? Currently, I write everything from prompted microprose (stories of less than 50 words), through short to medium size, standalone pieces, to longer, multi-part stories. I enjoy all of them, otherwise I wouldn’t write in the forms. They each challenge me differently, making individual demands on my creativity, and allowing for experimentation. If you could give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would it be? It’s been such a short time since I first put pencil to paper (3 years), I’m not sure there’s much stored advice to give. I remember bristling the first few times my writing was edited, though even then, I took in the comments. So maybe, just to accept constructive criticism positively from the start. Other than the prompt for the anthology, how did you come up with the idea for Willpower? One theme that occurs is my writing is that of getting older; the problems which may accompany this aspect of life also concern me. Another theme is concealing who you are, or maybe discovering what it is that’s been concealed. With an ageing population, dementia is a fearsome condition, robbing people of their cognition and dignity, and there is little-to-no medical solution. Put that all together with a good dose of drama and you have ‘Willpower’. What do you think makes your story stand out compared to other “similar” stories using timeline jumps to alternate the main characters and tell more than one story? Does my story stand out for that reason? I have no idea. Certainly I worked hard to make both timelines work on their own, and together. The flashbacks weren’t decorative; they served to push the plot forward as much as the present day storyline, until they joined. When Saul speaks to Max’s son, what he says becomes the flashback, taking the reader again back to the early 1990s. Do you have a favorite line or paragraph in the story that you hope evokes emotion/response in readers the most? What is it, and what emotion were you going for or have readers told you it created? This is the crux of the story, the reason for everything that follows. There should be shock, sadness; anger, perhaps. And recognition of the impossible situation the two men found themselves in. Several readers commented on this aspect of the story from personal experience. It told me I’d got that element right. ****** “So, it was the guy in the bar? The one who caused the trouble.” Will was back talking to the image of Saul Edwards. He was amazed at the details the older man could still recall. “We'll never know for sure. But a few weeks later, Max told me that rumours were starting to circulate about his sexuality. One of his acquaintances in the City had mentioned it during the course of a conversation the week before.” Will saw the sadness etched on the other man's face. “Max let the comment pass…” Will couldn't believe it. “What? He should've denied it, categorically.” “And, so… deny our love? Deny who he really was? For once, your father didn't know what to say. Put on the spot like that? He was damned either way, in his mind, so he let it pass. I kept my counsel, and offered what support I could.” ****** How about a favorite story among all the tales you’ve posted on GA? Which one would you pick and why (you can pick a current story if you are in love with something you are currently writing/will post soon)? God… while I’m not an author who loves everything they write, I have a number of favourites. It means that when I get asked this sort of question, I can change things around. This time I’ll go for the ‘Never Too Late…’ series. Eric Whitehouse, the older, lonely principal character, is someone close to my heart. He appeared, fully formed, in my imagination early on in my writing career. As you might expect, he mirrors some aspects of me. He also embodies some of my concerns. Little did I realise when I posted the first chapters, just how unusual a character Eric is in the GA milieu. Against the odds perhaps, he has garnered a following; some of those readers honour the story by sharing their life experiences in the chapter comments. It is a privilege for me, the author, to read and respond to their thoughts and reflections.
  4. Wow, it's been a while since we've done an author promo. This month we're taking a look at northie. Northie was asked to pick three stories and answer the three questions: What gave you the idea for this story? What was your favorite thing about writing this story? & Please tell us something about this story that is not already in the description. If you would like to do an author promo for the blog, please check out the blog feature opportunities thread. Now, let's take a look at what northie has for us. northie Author 13 stories · 593 comments · 126,539 total words The Bard's Tale Description: A bard decides to take action to recover unpaid monies due. A perfectly reasonable task which involves him in unreasonable and unintended consequences. What gave you the idea for this story? Strange as it may sound, the original inspiration came from playing Last post wins here on GA. Many of the players assume characters and this drew on two of them. I'll leave you to guess which. They appeared first in an early poem posted in my GA blog, but when the Spring/Summer 2017 Antho came around I realised it was a perfect match. However, it wasn't allowed as an entry, so I took the general outline of the poem and worked it into a much, much longer prose piece. What was your favorite thing about writing this story? This is a difficult one because I enjoyed so many things about writing it. Allowing myself to experiment creatively is what I'm going to say. Format, subject matter, genre, tone – all a matter of experiment. I wrote it in February / March 2017, when I'd only been writing prose for four or five months. I learnt so much from it. Please tell us something about this story that is not already in the description. It is collaboration with my editor, Parker Owens. Parker very kindly wrote the poems for the bard which form a central part of the plot. He is such a wonderful poet – he took my rather vague requirements and turned them into poetic gold. Incy Wincy Spider Description: Dave Harrison is late for work, again. Turns out, that's by far the least of his worries. What gave you the idea for this story? It's actually a prompt response. One of the creative ones, where you're given a scenario and left to continue it. Very often I look at those without much of an idea, but this one grabbed me from the outset. In fact, I'd hardly finished reading the prompt before the ideas started bubbling up. I had so much fun with the story, it became long enough to be my first separately posted story apart from The Bard's Tale. What was your favorite thing about writing this story? Personification. Making the spiders come alive. Describing them. Making them interact with our hapless hero. Imbuing each with its own personality and traits which came partly from the truth and partly my imagination. This was my first experiment in personification and I loved it. Please tell us something about this story that is not already in the description. The spiders are real in the sense that they are species which I see around me all the time. I like spiders (or at least the ones which live in the UK) and I do observe them. At the end of the story I give a 'cast list' with their proper names. Night Thoughts Description: What would your thoughts be if you were alone, at night, imprisoned only for who you are? One man gives us his. What gave you the idea for this story? Again, it started out as a prompt response. This time to a challenge prompt which asked you to 'write a scene where it is not possible to see anything'. This type of prompt is something to use to push your writing technique. Straight away it suggested a cell, a prisoner, but I didn't immediately make a start on it. I left it for a couple of weeks lurking in the back of my mind while I got on with other things. When I did finally sit down to write something, it still wasn't very clear in my mind what was going to happen. One thing I was clear on – it had to be from the point of view of the prisoner as he was living it. It was only when I got started that the whole thing just poured out, pretty much as it is now. A crie de coeur from a nameless prisoner, jailed simply because he's gay. What was your favorite thing about writing this story? I'm going to use that phrase again: the chance to experiment. I'd decided it was going to be written in the first person. My first attempt at that. But I also decided that the word 'I' was never going to appear. Another layer of complication. However, I enjoyed writing it immensely. It has opened up a new channel for my writing – one which can be used for short, intense, immersive pieces like this one. This story is the first of a projected series of 'Night thoughts'. Please tell us something about this story that is not already in the description. The description is deliberately fairly bland. Which makes the shock, you, the reader, hopefully experience when reading it all the more intense. I wasn't trying to shock for shock's sake – it's more, the way I've written it, it should draw you in. Place you right next to the poor soul incarcerated in the cell who opens up his heart and mind over the course of one night.
  5. Please join myself and the Author Promotion Team in congratulating @northie in becoming GA's newest Promising Author. Northie has been a member at GA for over three years, and in that time has posted over 340,000 words across twenty-three stories including the popular Never Too Late series about an older gentleman coming to terms with his sexuality. You can find all of northie's stories at their author page, so settle back and have fun reading the stories of our newest Promising Author! Congratulations, northie!
  6. Well, September is the start of Fall in the US, and this story was written for the 2017 Fall anthology "The Fall Out"... so this is the perfect month to feature it! Plus, I don't know about everyone else but with school kicking back off, September is a rude shock to my system. I have a routine to get back into, kids to nag back into their routine, and a school full of K-5 students ready to run me ragged. Naps are a biological imperative! Much like Will's father in the beginning of the story, it's hard to tell if I'm asleep or comatose when someone stops by to visit at the end of my days. So, how about we enjoy this sure to be emotional novella (even I can stay awake through 10k!) or refresh your memory if you read it before and can't recall all the fine details? Just make sure you come back at the end of the month with plenty of comments for the Discussion day! Willpower by northie Length: 10,819 Description: Will Carmichael is visiting his father who lives in a nursing home. One word which his father keeps repeating, holds the power to change Will's life. During his journey to uncover the word's meaning, Will makes discoveries that affect both him and his father. A reader said: The story is cleverly told without being maudlin. However, if you are a sympathetic old softie like me, you may want to have a tissue handy. As I said in my chapter comment: Stories that convey important truths in a warm and loving way are the best and this was a gem! I highly recommend this story. ~ Daddydavek Don't forget to come back to share your thoughts and comments for the Discussion Day on Monday, September 30th!
  7. Please enjoy this review brought to you by the lead of our review team, Timothy M! Never Too Late northie Reviewer: Timothy M. Status: Complete Word Count: 42,149 November is approaching, a dreary, cold, dark month in the northern hemisphere. The Danish poet Henrik Nordbrandt once wrote: The year has sixteen months: November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, November, November, November. Read the poem out loud and you’ll get the feeling of how long and boring November is. (Of course, this doesn't apply to the GA story November Falls). Now imagine it’s November and you’re an old, poor and lonely man living in a cold, damp cottage in England. Then you’ll have the setting of northie’s story Never Too Late. It’s a rather unusual tale on a site where most protagonists are teens or adults below age 30, handsome and/or charming, fit and friendly, or at least with some redeeming traits. Maybe the only thing Eric has in common with the normal main characters is being gay. And deeply closeted but opening the door. The person Eric opens the door to, is Andy, a young charity volunteer who does fulfill the usual character criteria. At first they don’t get along at all, but with nudging from Adam, his clever boyfriend, Andy manages to salvage the initial disaster and gradually win the trust of Eric. He discovers how to help the taciturn, proud oldster who in turn gradually opens up to potential friendships and a glimpse into the unobtainable world of gay romance and relationships. But at least Eric now has a connection to the gay community which Andy wants to broaden by introducing him to computers and the internet. Not an easy task at all. Never Too Late culminates at Christmas and the New Year, two events which can be especially depressing for people without family and friends. So why do I recommend a story which sounds as sad as November? It’s because northie once again has managed to capture my heart with something real; with characters who make mistakes, but strive to improve; with gentle but piercing observations on how society ignores the needs of the poor, the old, and the lonely. Most of all, how the kindness of a few people, who reach out to Eric during the story, makes all the difference in the world to him. northie’s tale has attracted a small, but devoted group of fans, some of whom shared their personal experiences and perspectives on the topics mentioned above, both via interesting chapter comments and in the discussion forum. Their opinions are perhaps better advertising that anything I could say: @Carlos Hazday : Love your way of writing these stories, sensitive and emotional characters, bordering on pathetic without actually reaching that level. @drsawzall : well done and vitally important that we see stories in this subject. Life isn't simply led as some of the stories would have you believe. We all struggle with and hide what we don't want others to see. @dughlas : My heart still aches for Eric. There is much missing from his life. Andy and Adam are bringing new experiences to his life. @ColumbusGuy : This story is just amazingly warm, especially once Andy got over his 'save the world' complex and saw Eric as a real person. Do you know how rare that is for elderly or handicapped people? We look forward to the next book (already into chapter 12 according to northie and due to start posting early in 2019), where we hope to see Eric’s life brighten in various ways. Take your time to savor Book One, which may not be full of action and drama, but has plenty of the compassion and understanding to which we as humans should aspire. And if nothing else the story may make you appreciate what you have in your life in terms of comforts, health, friends, and best of all love. As @droughtquake said: I feel so lucky compared with Eric! Category: Fiction Genres: Drama, Romance Tags: young adult, senior, gay, europe, coming out, friendship Rating: Mature
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