April 2010

Edition 0002


WATCH THIS SPACE...

In future editions of the Ah! Newsletter, the "Watch This Space..." feature will be written by a single author, providing reviews of stories, poetry, television programs and movies they've enjoyed over the last couple of months.  However, as this is the first copy of the new version of the newsletter and many authors contributed reviews for the old format, we have decided to publish this edition with some of those reviews to avoid their hard work going to waste.  Links are provided to all pieces reviewed, so if you're interested in reading the piece in question, just click on the title...

Purple by Camy

Camy's stories are generally great fun to read, and 'Purple' is a fine example of his penmanship. It's a story with a premise that comes at you out of left field and slaps you about the face with a wet kipper, leaving you thinking 'Whaaaaaa?'. And it left me with a big grin which wouldn't go away. As if his fertile imagination weren't enough, he seeds his stories with some outrageous turns of phrase that broaden your smile as you read. How about 'a light-hearted pragmatic insouciance'? Why do I get the impression there's a strong autobiographical element in there somewhere? Perhaps it's the insouciance. Another great short story from a master of his craft.

Bruin Fisher

2.0 by Rob Hawes

This story concerns cloning and how in the future, those people with the financial resources, will be able to be re-housed in new bodies; bodies generated from the hosts own DNA, only much younger, fitter and without the medical issues that may have plagued the host during its life.  However, Rob shows us that it may not be as simple as that, dealing expertly with the feelings of the protagonist as he struggles with a body that has no knowledge of the everyday things he took for granted before the procedure.  Things like walking and talking - even thinking is a struggle, especially getting his head round the concept of suddenly being at least forty years his own junior, although, after consideration, this doesn’t strike him as being such a bad thing.  On the face of it, cloning would seem to be a perfect solution to the age old conundrum of death and the mortality of human beings, but does Rob does brilliantly and so often, is give just that little bit extra; that little something else which turns this from an interesting premise, to an interesting premise.

Nick B

My Bed by Alisa Perne

‘My Bed’ is a poem about solitude, about the loneliness which bites even in the crowd. The poet tries to fill in the hollowness deep inside him with noises and sounds, whether it’s the chatter of ‘friends’ or the loud music of the car. But at night, when all sounds die, one has to face that emptiness. The bed becomes a battlefield. Alisa Perne has evoked the poignant emotions of solitude and emptiness in simple words. The honesty of the feeling leaves you disturbed.

Ieshwar

He Did Not Come by Jonquil Blossom

This is a very interesting contribution to the Dawn anthology by Jonquil Blossom. The writing manages to perfectly capture the tone of how dawn feels. It perfectly describes the waking silence of the early morning when the day is not yet quite begun. This wonderfully emotive writing is then combined with a plot which I feel is told wonderfully. While I would never dream of giving away any sort of spoilers in a review like this I will say that the story unfolds in a very well-structured way, with each exposition and twist timed well to the flow of the writing. A very enjoyable read.

Clumber

Long Past Gone by Jason Rimbaud

This poem was particularly hard for me to swallow, because it contained some interesting parallels with my own life, and my ex. In the first stanza "he quickly wipes it away with the back of his hand" shows that this isn't as happy as the first few lines may portray. It is simple, and harsh. It is truthful and in places, hard to swallow. It tells us the story of a doomed love, but not in the romantic "star crossed lovers" kind of sense. In the truthful, painful way. This poem did something to me that nothing else I have ever read has done. It brought tears to my eyes in class. If I am reading anything online in a free, or a computer lesson where I have finished my work, it can never make me cry, no matter how much it would when I am alone. I force the tears away, always. But it touched me so much that it managed it. My definite favourite in the silence anthology, and I would gladly recommend it to anyone.

Alisa Perne

Cursed by Ieshwar

This story takes the form of a conversation between a boy and a girl, who tell the story as if they were recounting it from a movie or a play that they’d just seen – a tragedy full of passion, of hope and of love.  With just the occasional descriptions of expressions or movement, Ieshwar’s characters come to life, taking turns to describe the scenes in their story; their retelling becoming more and more impassioned as through punch and counter punch the story unfolds…

Nick B

If you would like to write the "Watch This Space..." article for the next edition of the newsletter, please contact Rob or Myk.  Participating members may review stories or poetry published here or elsewhere, as well as TV programs and movies.

PLANNING THE EPIC

by Julien Gregg

Being an author of online fiction can have many rewards, but that’s not what I want to get into here. If you’re an online author, chances are you’ve had discussions about your work in one forum or another, email from fans that think your story is the greatest and even a few nasty comments about why a person doesn’t like the story or a character at all.

Believe it or not, those are the people that always give feedback. Again, this isn’t about getting feedback or what people think of the writing. This is about getting the writing done. Let me tell you a bit about the way that a story is created on my computer.

First there is the sighting. I carry a notebook and a pencil around with me everywhere I go. You see people in situations that you think are sad, funny or just strange. You see this every day unless you never leave your house. I see this kind of thing at school, the supermarket, the doctor’s office, the park and all kinds of places.

So I write down the situations that strike me as interesting. Then I start to look at people. It isn’t always the people that I saw involved in the situation that got me to scribbling in my notebook. I just find people that I think are either interesting, rude or otherwise special and start writing their descriptions and a bit about what they were doing when I saw them.

So now I have a situation or theme for a story idea and hopefully at least a small list of characters all scribbled in my notebook. Now it’s time to plan. The theme or story idea is the first step. Perhaps it’s a bit weak or could be changed slightly to make it more interesting. I mean, no one wants to read a story about a guy who harassed a woman for twenty minutes in the supermarket. No, that’s just what got you thinking.

So maybe the story is about a woman and how she deals with harassing men. Maybe it’s about the bad day the man was having that pushed him to the point of being a harassing idiot. Maybe the story is about something else entirely and these two are just characters in the background. At any rate once you know what your theme is you’re ready to start an outline.

The outline phase, for me, is really just a session of gathering ideas and putting them into place so that the outline will have a focus. This is very bare and not detailed. It isn’t supposed to be. This is just a list of ideas that will help you put the story together when you get to the final phase before the writing actually begins. Inside the outline you should have a list of characters as well. I usually have those first along with descriptions and attitudes.

Now it’s time to start thinking about the big event that’s going to happen in your story. I’m talking about the main idea or focus of the story itself. If you’ve read my work you know that there may be several big events that bring me to the final showdown of the story. This final showdown is what I’m talking about. Research and planning begin now.

Research can be a lot of fun, because it gets you learning something new or talking to someone you never would have talked to before. What I do is look my idea up on the net. Google is my friend in that area, but that’s only the first step. Once I’ve gotten all the net can offer it’s time to find someone who knows something about what my main focus is about. I ask them politely, and sometimes compensate them for their time, to tell me a bit about a certain event, object or place. I take a lot of notes at this time and my planning is already starting in my head. Once I feel I have enough knowledge about what I’m writing it’s time to start the real planning.

I try to plan for every possible thing that could happen in the situation I’m about to put fictional characters through. Everyone knows that people don’t always react to the same things the way you think they would, and I try to think about that. I start deciding how to get the characters in motion toward the final event of my storyline and aftermath. By this time I’ve got a title and possibly a few sketches drawn of several things in the storyline.

I have a program that was written for me that I call Notebooks. I use this for the planning of my story. Part of this is just typing up my notes and trying to put them in order. Once I’ve done that I start the chapter by chapter summary. This is when I find out how many chapters are going to be in the story.  Once the chapter by chapter summary is underway it’s time to start writing. I think of the story as a prompt to keep me focused while I’m writing. Hopefully by the time I reach the end of the summary I haven’t deviated too far from the outline. This happens from time to time, but it can be really great when it does. That’s when a story surprises the stuffing out of you and is usually very good.

So now I’ve got a story written. It’s time to go over it and polish a few things that might be weak. Then I send it off to an editor and work on something else while I wait. My editors make subtle changes where they’re needed and send the piece back to me or post it on my site for me. I’m lucky to have editors that I can have faith in. At any rate, the story is out there now. The feedback can begin. Mostly I just feel better because the story is finished and I can work on the next idea that’s been banging around in my crowded brain. That means the process starts over.


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