Sunday, 23 November 2014

Flash Cricket

The story in my last post, “Last Shot,” was written in response to a challenge to write a 500-word story using twenty specific words a particular order. This type of challenge is apparently called "Flash Cricket," because you have to bowl and field words. Like in cricket, I suppose - I don't know, sports metaphors are usually lost on me. (The site that coined the term is here)

These are fun – they force you think on your feet, to write without preconceived ideas and fit it all into the short space provided by flash fiction. I can thoroughly recommend an exercise like this for any writers who are in-between bigger projects or just looking to try something different.

For those who are interested, below are the words that "Last Shot" was written from:

Fifth
Investment
Steep
Chef
Protest
Minute
Window
Running
Apostate
Borderline
Tackle
Glitter
Purring
Hogtied
Curse
Surreal
Lavish
Hiss
Troglodyte
Scattered

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Last Shot

The fifth of whiskey was empty. Mikey looked at the bottle despairingly, trying to ignore the reams of paperwork on the desk beneath.

Investment portfolios showing red. Tax bills with steep fines. Court subpoenas.

Half a million down the sinkhole, and worse yet to come.

He stood up and put his coat on. He wanted to go out, but where? Maybe Tossolini’s, but Mikey knew his favourite chef wasn’t working tonight. Dooley’s Bar, then.

Mikey left the building. The walk made his feet ache in protest, but it was only a minute away. He caught his reflection in a window – unshaven, tie loosened, fresh grey streaks running through his cowlick. Such unkemptness would’ve made him an apostate among his fellow Finance District slicksters, but lately he’d been depressed and borderline insomniac, and appearance was the last thing he cared about.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

H. G. Wells’ “The Land Ironclads” – Speculative Fiction done right

What makes a story exceptional? When I’m between writing projects, I’m going to post occasional essays about some of my favourite pieces of writing. This will be fun, partly because it gives me an excuse to re-read some great stories, but also because it’s useful and constructive – both as a reader and writer – to think about what makes a work of writing truly memorable.

Right now, I want to look at what I consider to be a quintessential piece of speculative fiction: H. G. Well’s “The Land Ironclads,” which you can read online here.

Plot summary: Two unnamed countries are at war, one attacking, the other defending. The conflict is at a stalemate – “Since the first brisk movements after the declaration of war things had gone slower and slower, until it seemed as though the whole machine of events must have run down” – and the defenders are happily waiting their enemy out. But the attackers bring in a new weapon – massive, armoured land vehicles, that can easily traverse the trenches. These so-called Land Ironclads push through the front lines and essentially win the war for the attackers.