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It recently occurred to me that shapeshifters of one kind or another tend to show up in my stories quite a lot. This realization came to me as a bit of a surprise because I’ve never really considered myself particularly enamored with or fascinated by shapeshifter lore.
The shapeshifter in Skin Dancing is something out of a nightmare.
Two women meet in a bar in the boondocks on a sweltering summer night. Each woman revels in the presence of a kindred spirit. They share laughs, stories, and an appreciation for a rare drink. The setup is ordinary but there’s something just a little off-kilter.
The younger woman has no idea what the older one has in store for her.
The night stretches on. The younger woman gets so drunk she can hardly even stand. She’s at the older woman’s mercy. The predatory one prepares to strike but something unexpected happens.
Fate intervenes. The younger woman escapes a fate worse than death.
Lucky her. Right?
Short Story Status: Complete
I used to be a pantser. Time was writing by the seat of my pants was the only way I could imagine getting any writing done. This particular approach to the writing process worked for me for a very long time. That changed, though, when a medical condition which seems to have affected the way my brain works, left me unable to focus or effortlessly string my ideas together.
I very quickly learned that to keep being a writer, I needed to change my whole approach to the art of writing stories. I needed a system.
At first, I was at a loss. For years, I had balked at the notion of planning and plotting my stories. Now my wherewithal to write them depended on my willingness and ability to do just that.
I searched online for clues. How did plotters approach the writing process? I needed to know. Right away, I realized that going to great lengths to meticulously plot my stories was never going to be my thing. Still, I needed to do something.
Luckily, I was able to arrive at a happy medium between pantsing and what I interpreted as the extremes of plotting. I developed a sort of hybrid approach to the story-planning process.
It took some time but I eventually ended up using the following form to plan my short stories:
Point of View:
The plot is merely something I start with and more often than not, my stories deviate from the plan but it’s still good to be able to refer back to my original idea and decide whether or not I want to keep or chuck the changes to the story.
With novels and novellas, things were a bit tricky at first but then realized that there was no need to go overboard. Using the same form that I utilize to plot my short stories as a guide, I create a synopsis. Then I split the synopsis up into segments (chapters). As I write each chapter, I flesh out separate scenes as needed.
The great thing about my current approach to plotting stories is that I’m now more inclined to stay on task, plus, I still have the flexibility to change things up as I go along.
I’m still a pantser at heart but I have that safety net for those times when I lose focus or have trouble stringing those ideas into a coherent whole.
Have you had a similar experience, found that you needed to change your approach to writing for one reason or another? How did you end up working it out? Is your solution still working for you?
I’ve touted Firecracker as a godpunk webserial but the truth is I have my own questions about that.
I haven’t quite managed to pin down an exact definition of godpunk. As far as I understand it, godpunk is all about the mythological gods of old existing in the modern world. Now, are there rules attached?
What if I created a brand-new god with a whole new mythology and plopped her down into the modern world?
For all intents and purposes, Cassandra Baron is a god, a deity engineered by ancient aliens. She’s got the awesome powers to prove it too. She roams the earth in search of clues to mending her broken sister. During her search, she encounters the Rath, a powerful wolven race, older than the vampires. She becomes embroiled in a feud between factions. A brutal attack sets the young god on the warpath and she vows to bring the entire race to its knees.
Does a story like that still count as godpunk?
I suppose it would have been simpler to make her some ancient Egyptian or African deity, then I would have known for sure but that would have been a whole other story.
Webserial Status: Ongoing
When I set out to write my first (and possibly only) horror story, one thing immediately came to mind. It was that episode of the X-Files in which Mulder and Scully encounter that red-eyed creature that might have been one of the Conquistadors who came to Florida with Ponce de Leon in search of the Fountain of Youth. My mind drifted back to the last scene of that episode where Scully exits her hotel room and the last thing you see is that red-eyed creature watching her from under the bed.
Tightrope Cat isn’t so much an attempt to recreate that moment as it is an endeavor to capture the feeling that delightfully horrifying scene evoked.
I’m not exactly sure what else inspired this story. There are some tribal elements and in the story but while the protagonist suggests that her experience might be steeped in African lore, that isn’t something I know for certain. It’s a purely made up story, concocted from the flotsam and jetsam of my memories and many a half-baked notion.
Tightrope Cat aims to entertain and quietly horrify. I can’t say for certain that it achieves this goal but at the very least, I can confess that among my older works, it’s a definite favorite.
Read Tightrope Cat online at SpecFics.
Short Story Status: Complete
Imagine a woman who can walk across realms, a transdimensional nomad, if you will.
She’s taken up residence on a non-magical planet called Earth. She, a wayfarer, lives there in peace until unknown enemies track her down and leave her near dead.
Her estranged husband arrives soon after, bringing devastating news. Afterward, the wayfarer sets off across worlds to track down the source of the attack with the wizard, a witch, and the doppelganger of her dead son in tow.
Along the way, a twisted sorcerer’s dire warning leads to run-ins with over-civilized vampires, desperate demi-dragons, and a demented god.
The wayfarer’s universe begins and ends with two simple truths:
Blood binds. She knows this because she is bound.
Blood finds blood. It never fails. She knows this.
Webserial Status: Ongoing