Miniature Narrative Project 2015: Part 1

 

BEGIN TRANSMISSION.

 

Because it was such a good idea last time, I’ve decided that I’ll be doing another Miniature Narrative Project for December. This time, though, I’m going to be using The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt. I’ll do an entry at least once every three days but probably not a whole lot more than that. And each entry will be related to the last AND be related to the Daily Prompt entry.

As for word count, I’ll keep it flexible but I’ll try to keep it under 800 or something. That way I don’t just lurch into a full narrative at the last second like I did last time.

So, I guess we’ll just see where this goes.

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Prompt: “What is your favorite sweet thing to eat? Bread pudding? Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies? A smooth and creamy piece of cheesecake? Tell us all about the anticipation and delight of eating your favorite dessert. Not into sweets? Tell us all about your weakness for that certain salty snack.”

Title: Bright Like a New Day

Word Count: 743

 

If I shined my buttons any more, I’d steal the sun’s thunder right from under it. My silly mother and father just don’t understand. There’s only three people’s approval that I need. Mine, that devilishly handsome man in the mirror looking back at me, and the Duke of the Great Chamber. Or just the Duke. He and I are on a first-name basis, of course.

Perhaps today I’ll finally make him aware of that. After I come back from my royal mission. For the Duke is hungry and his sweet tooth must be satiated.

“We can’t just move a whole town,” the foreman whines. “And there are people who live here. What about them?”

“There’s plenty of room in the capital,” I say. “They can all live closer to their beloved Duke.”

A moment of silence creeps by us. The foreman pulls his collar (which is very official— brass buttons and the noble crest and everything) away from his throat, never minding the winter chill. He must think it a noose. With a heavy sigh, he hefts his axe.

Deep below, still in the quite of the early morning snow, the town lies unaware that is destiny is about to be realized. The Duke will have his nation and he will eat so he may build that land for another day. I kick the flanks of my horse; I shall be the first to tell those in the sleepy valley of the change to their lives. Perhaps my buttons will be like a beacon to them and turn them from townsfolk to pilgrims on a quest for a better, purer home.

The town was emptied, its people, whether they were crying or smiling, were sent south to the capital, and each building was turned to splinters and gravel. Yet still I saw doubt in the foreman’s eyes. Even as we brought the caravan carrying those remnants of schools, churches, and homes back to the capital, his eyes were downcast. Perhaps he did not so fervently believe yet? Or maybe it was the thought of bandits that troubled him. I could not say but troubled with it no more. If all went well, I would never work with the disagreeable man and his unshaven face ever again.

For all the next day, the Great Chamber churched and belched black smoke into the snowy sky. Sugar was mixed with wood and stone and brick. Honey, water, flour, and whatever else the Duke had a hunger for were poured in and reshaped into a great red-brown tar-like lake. It almost looked like pudding from where I stood (at one of the many balconies scattered about the room. I was summoned, you see, to observe the conception of this newest batch). Our Duke has a sweet tooth indeed.

A tremendous glass room, rimmed with iron and casting light like a lantern suspended from heaven, hangs high above the pool and machinery of the Great Chamber. Up there, shadows and form are ideas, ideals, always shifting as if part of some spectacular fire. Only the Duke lives up there and only he determines what does or does not shape.

“My hunger,” the Duke thunders (though I think this is still but a whisper from him) in his thousand voices, “is the cement of our nation. The town of Huntsman’s Valley has brought one-hundred and thirty six new residents to our growing capital. And with this newest batch, the largest of its kind to ever be wrought, our nation shall grow evermore.”

There’s a pause without silence. The Duke’s words echo and bounce around all the shined steel walls.

“Purdon,” he says to me. Me. “I would like you to watch as I take the first bite. Note that with all of these balconies, none of my ministers nor officials are here. You alone have been summoned to watch this new age be ushered in.”

For just a moment, the swirling light in the heavenly glass room seem to all focus on me. I wish I could smile. But I’m far too overwhelmed, the strength of my body leaving my skin but empowering me soul. I can’t turn my eyes away as the globe comes down from the ceiling on chains and pulleys and the glass opens up like a blossom in spring. If only those simple folk of Huntsman’s Valley could see what their sacrifice has created.

They would probably weep as I did then. And still do.

 

 

THE OTHER DAILY PROMPT ENTRIES

 


 

 

PINGBACK:

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pour-some-sugar-on-me/">Pour Some Sugar on Me</a>

 

So that was weird. Similar to the last one (link way at the top of the entry), this story might end up being somewhere in-between an over-detailed children’s tale and one of those childish-seeming tales that actually has bizarre, dark undertones. Like Adventure Time or something. Except for the whole nuclear war things…

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

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Five Sentence Fiction: (and M.N.P. Part 8): Laughter

 

Previous Entry: Part 7 M.N.P.

Previous(er) Entry: Part 6 M.N.P.

(Even more) Previous Entry: Part 5 M.N.P.

(Even still more) Previous Entry: Part 4 M.N.P.

(Even still, still more) Previous Entry: Part 3 M.N.P.

(Even much more) Previous Entry: Part 2 M.N.P.

Previous(est) Entry: Part 1 M.N.P.

 

Here we are, on the second half of today’s double-publishing extravaganza. Which totally isn’t a thing just because I forgot to be good with an upload schedule since Christmas hit. No, not at all. Also, this is the last Five Sentence Fiction of the M.N.P. All that remains is the short story entry that will probably offer absolutely no narrative closure and will instead just sequel-bait in case I ever want to come back to this weird little mythos.

Buuuut I kind of have a looot to write anyway so maybe I’ll just deposit this onto the self in the back of my head instead.

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Word of Inspiration: Jolly

Word Count: 152

Genre: Surrealist Fiction

Title: Laughter

 

It should have been laughter coming out of Due’s mouth. Laughter of relief- instead it sounded like a bird being stepped on (not that he knew what that sounded like).

Due had dodged the book that had been aimed to take his head off, he didn’t need to eat a damn book to dip and weave out of the way like he did. In fact, he didn’t seem to much like books right now and, by the invisibly smoldering (it certainly felt red-hot as it trimmed the bangs of his wig off) novel that now lay peacefully behind him, they didn’t seem very fond of him either.

When he finally felt brave enough to raise his periscope over the podium again, the end of the world was over, the police had mopped up the chaos at the culprit with clinical speed and Due smiled before he decided to go ahead and faint.

 

Due was reported to have consumed many, MANY, glasses of port shortly after the altercation at the conference hall. Image copyright: mobilezonegt.com

Due was reported to have consumed many, MANY, glasses of port shortly after the altercation at the conference hall.
Image copyright: mobilezonegt.com

 

 


 

 

See, I told you the bizarre names didn’t stop with Somn in the previous entry! And now we are approaching the end of this little experiment. One more short-story entry will follow from this and then a little compilation and reflection post will comes afterwards. It’s almost done guys, it’s almost done! I’m sure plenty of you are thanking your non-specific deity or Great Old One right about now!

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 

 

Friday Fictioneers (and M.N.P. Part 7): A Simpler Time

 

Previous Entry: Part 6 M.N.P.

Previous(er) Entry: Part 5 M.N.P.

(Even more) Previous Entry: Part 4 M.N.P.

(Even still more) Previous Entry: Part 3 M.N.P.

(Even still, still more) Previous Entry: Part 2 M.N.P.

Previous(est) Entry: Part 1 M.N.P.

 

Boy, I’m really cutting this one close, aren’t I? I barely even made the weekly deadline for this one. I mean, I have a looooong list of things I could very probably blame for distracting me. All of which I have no shame in. Because now, oh NOW, I am making today, December the 30th, a double-publishing extravaganza! It’s going to be the greatest double-feature since My Neighbor Totoro came right after Grave of the Fireflies! Meaning, the two will be totally tonally different and give you intense emotional whiplash. I only do it because I love you! And I’m bad at working around all of my distractions and other writings. Oh well, it’s almost the finale!

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Image Copyright: Bjorn Rudberg

Image Copyright: Bjorn Rudberg

 

Title: A Simpler Time

Genre: Realistic/Surrealist Fiction

Word Count: 100

 

Things would go back to a simpler time after tonight. Blackstone’s death would force the two groups further apart. Then, like the inevitable death of the universe, both would come colliding back together. And then nothing. Silence. Somn knew what he was talking about. He had eaten an Undergrad’s worth of physics textbooks. He particularly enjoyed the sections about projectiles.

Somn sat in a dark room filled with intellectuals who growled like idle motors and grumbled like people waiting in line at the store. Waiting. The bane of the intelligent. The wise, however, never waited. Their thoughts stretched, meditated, prepared.

 

 

Somn was reported to have kept this photograph framed in his home on a nightstand. When asked about it he claimed it was, "A vision of a better future."  Image copyright: pixdaus.com

Somn was reported to have kept this photograph framed in his home on a nightstand. When asked about it he claimed it was, “A vision of a better future.”
Image copyright: pixdaus.com

 

 

 


 

 

If you thought the weird names would stop after this, you’re sorely mistaken! Somn is just the first of many absurd names that only seems to fit this absurd little world. Also, expect that final short story entry very soon! IT will be marginally above-average, I can assure you! Oh and I should wish you all a happy new year. I SHOULD. But will I?

You’ll have to hold onto your trousers and wait to find out!

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

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Friday Fictioneers (and M.N.P. Part 4): Author’s End

 

Previous Entry: Part 3 M.N.P.

Previous(er) Entry: Part 2 M.N.P.

Previous(est) Entry: Part 1 M.N.P.

 

Well my friends, acquaintences, and mortal enemies, I believe we have fully reached that point in this little narrative adventure where things are actually starting to move in a plot-like motion. I think I mentioned that last time too. But what do you honestly expect from me, consistency? No, no, no, you silly man, woman, or applicable third alien gender. That would just be ludicrous. Maybe when the next Five Sentence Fiction or Featured Fiction swings around, I can start moving these little plot whispers in motion. But until then, you all get a big bowl of vague soup!

I would tell you what it tastes like but I can’t quite place it. Naturally.

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Photo Copyright: Sandra-Crook

Photo Copyright: Sandra-Crook

 

Title: Author’s End

Genre: Realistic/Surrealist Fiction

Word Count: 100

 

 

Ms. Bessmore, the most famous murder-mystery author in the world*, refused to release her newest book. She claimed, “[she] will not have [her] writing used as fuel for the growing discord between page-burners and book-muncher.”

But Bessmore wasn’t quick enough to avoid ironic death thrown at her from the audience. One of her own books smote her in the temple. She crumpled to the ground and, How I Murdered My Once-Hero, fell next to her

Her novels ended up floating down the river in tragic heaps. They slowly clogged the river, too scorned to eat and too wet to burn.

____________

*This statistic courtesy of the Bureau for Authorial Greatness and Success. It was composed eight months prior to Bessmore’s death and, upon completion, was swiftly devoured by its writer to preserve its knowledge forever.

 

An artist eventually rendered the fate of Bessmore's books. She was forced to publish it anonymously, however out of fear. The work was entitled, "Irony and the One Bizarre Thing We Have in Common." Image copyright: Random House

An artist eventually rendered the fate of Bessmore’s books. She was forced to publish it anonymously, however out of fear. The work was entitled, “Irony and the One Bizarre Thing We Have in Common.”
Image copyright: Random House

 

 


 

 

You could tell me that I cheated by adding that footnote but you could ALSO say I’ve cheated every time by adding those second pictures and the blurbs about them!

… Well, you probably wouldn’t be wrong. I just wanted to let you know your options when accusing me of cheating!

Maybe to make it up to everybody I should write my next entry in hilariously frustrating fragments and just say, “a book-muncher did it!”

Nah, I wouldn’t have the stomach for it.

*rimshot*

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 

Five Sentence Fiction (and M.N.P. Part 3): The Crossing

 

Previous Entry: Part 2 M.N.P.

Previous(er) Entry: Part 1 M.N.P.

 

So, my little M.N.P. (look back at Part 1 if you have no idea what I’m talking about) is steaming along rather decently even though it’s finals week here and I’m a lot less stressed than I probably should be. That’s usually a sign of impending doom but I’m just going to shelve that for now and talk more about people eating/burning books.

Also, brace yourselves, I think this story might be getting a plot eventually. There are whispers of it in this post.

 

 

Enjoy~

 


 

 

Word of Inspiration: Trust

Word Count: 90

Genre: Surrealist Fiction

Title: The Crossing

 

A book-muncher and a page-burner met each other in the city one day, at the corner of Dickenson Way and Prometheus Street.

They stared at each other, eyes poking and prodding and clinically dissecting all they could with invisible hands.

One offered their hand to the other (nobody could say which one offered); their depressed brow was a silent cautionary growl.

“We have bigger problems than each other,” they said, “as I’m sure you’re well-aware. But we’re going to stop them, you’re going to have to trust me.”

 

An artists' impression of the historical event between the two people. It is not thought of as a particularly good rendition, however. As neither wore suits, their heads were not bananas, and at least one was a woman. Image Copyright: Illustrationsource.com

An artists’ impression of the historical event between the two people. It is not thought of as a particularly good rendition, however. As neither wore suits, their heads were not bananas, and at least one was a woman.
Image Copyright: Illustrationsource.com

 

 


 

 

I’m excited for tomorrow when a new Friday Ficitoneers comes out and I’ll have to start really struggling with finding a way to adapt a completely non-sequitur picture into part of a larger, growing narrative! That sounds a bit masochistic when I say it like that. But writing’s a bit masochistic, really. Why else would we create such loveable characters and then subject them to all manner of horrors, death, and family reunions?

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 

 

Reflections of an Amateur Novel Writer: Part 2, “Dirty Writing and Scum-Sifting”

 

Well, since it’s been… too long, we’ll just say, since I wrote another one of these terribly long-winded reflections on fiction creation. So, I decided to finally take some time and go on a writing binge to make a small handful of them so you all can finally stop ASSAULTING MY BRAIN WITH YOUR GUILT-WAVES. And yes, that is the only probable explanation for my discomfort in this situation.

THE ONLY WAY.

 


 

 

Anyway, yes, on to things. As you may have noticed by now, the title of this post refers to “writing dirty.” While this may or may not actually include writing smutty or trashy romance novels, it can always refer to something that is absolutely vital to the writing process. For those unfamiliar, “writing dirty” is the name given to the process (I don’t know by who, but I’m sure lots of people have their own name for it as well- as I do) of simply sitting down and writing with no care about quality, continuity, spelling, grammar, or any combination of the above. It is the secret enemy and ultimate antithesis of the horror of the stark emptiness of the blank white page.

And it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY FOR WRITING. So there. It is, on the surface, a completely unappealing process to some as, without strict quality control, some may fear that the story will spiral out of control and end up in Suckville. Well, as it turns out, “writing dirty” actually helps you stay away from the borders of Suckville. It allows you to knead and work out the best and worst parts of your story by making them plain and obvious, having been put into words. It will let you look back on what you’ve written and hopefully understand more about the nature of your own project.

Before we proceed further, I’d like to introduce my own term to replace “writing dirty” for the rest of this post (plus, then I can stop putting quotation marks at random parts throughout the page). The term I have chosen to use for this incredibly vital process is scum-sifting. Because I think it touches on two very important things that “writing dirty” does not.

  1. Pertaining to “Scum”: our writing, more often than not, will suck the first time you put it into the page. And by “suck,” I mean, “you think it sucks.” That is simply part of the process. As I said before, it is necessary to knead your story out like dough so that you can see all of the impurities latent in the story’s fabric including stilted dialogue, cliché plot or character tropes, heavy exposition, tangents, instances of deus ex machina, and other such literary horrors.

2: Pertaining to “Sifting”: It is vital to always (always) look back on your work relatively soon after finishing a session of writing. I always likened scum-sifting as the author dry heaving onto a page, getting everything in their body and mind out onto the page and not caring about the quality. Then, sometime later after the initial high as worn off, the scum can be sifted through and you can find the truly good parts of the work that were hiding in said scum.

So yes, scum-sifting… with that beautiful phrase still fresh and wet in your head, let’s proceed onward:

Scum-sifting allows an enormous degree of freedom in the story’s construction. When you sit down and prepare to dive into a writing session, there’s no reason why you must go in chronological order with your story. From my own experience, although now I am writing one novel chronologically, that only arose from about a year of intense organization, scum-sifting, and refining. Now that the story is all set to go from all of that preparation work, I can feel confident in starting from the very beginning.

Also, let me differentiate something here: It is always good to have your beginning, middle, and end figured out before going into a story. After all, you need to know where you’re going in order to get there. However, scum-sifting applies more to the minute details of writing, that is to say, the individual words on the page that craft the story you have outlined.

So, what scum-sifting allows is a sense of freedom that you can write from any place in the story, so long as it suits your fancy. I have known fellow writing students to simply be paralyzed in the beginning of the writing process because they can’t approach it head-on. The beginning of their story is lost to them, so the entire project seems lost. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Scum-sifting says for you to write ANYTHING. Anything at all. Even if you’re writing about how the character in your story is having a brain-block themselves. Think of the first foray into scum-sifting as a warmup to the main event. Your brain will begin to wake up more the more your write. Even if what you’re writing makes absolutely no sense, even if it occurs totally outside of the world of your story, it’s all the same.

Just. Write.

There, I managed to truncate that whole paragraph into two words.

But seriously, you simply MUST write. All the time. Even if you think it’s horrible. No, ESPECIALLY if you think it’s horrible. The more horridly you write, the more you can attune your brain to see problems inherent in your work and you can train your mind in ways to recognize problems in your writing even as you still write.

On that note, you must keep EVERYTHING. Don’t crumple up the page of paper or burn your notebook or delete your document or burn down your house or take a giant eraser and erase every single letter in town. That’s just silly. When you have everything that you’ve ever written, you can look back on it and either find yourself pleasantly surprised with something that you wrote three months ago that you’d still like to use or you’ll find a piece of complete garbage that you feel proud for moving past. With writing, any experience is good experience.

As an extension to keeping everything, it’s vital to look back on your work after a writing session. To be honest, I’m about equally split between two possibilities in terms of frequency when I look back on my work. I either find flaws all throughout what I’ve written or I find that what I thought was bad actually had a lot of merit to it. The thing about writing sessions, especially when scum-sifting, is that your mindset tends to bleed onto the page quite profusely. For instance, if you were more agitated during a writing session or you had a stressful day, you may find that your word choice and construction of scenes would be drastically different than if you were calm and happy during another writing session. In other words, you need to give yourself some time to distance yourself from what you just wrote (I usually air on the side of about three to seven days) in order to get the perspective of somebody who is not in the same mindset as when you wrote it. I have found that more than a few lyrical metaphors had fallen flat on their face when I read them after some time away from the work.

As such, I violently severed them from the rest of their fellow words and strung them up in the town square to serve as an example to others about the price of incompetence. When I scum-sift I guess I sometimes use less of a sifter and more of a detachment of the Spanish Inquisition. But it still gets the job done!

It’s important to examine your scum not only for the things I mentioned before (odd dialogue, too much or too little focused on setting up the scene [though, what those parameters are are up to the writer and their work], etc.) but also so you can look for conflicting emotional states in the writing. It wouldn’t serve the work well to have one chapter be written with lots of introspection and a generally upbeat tone only to be followed by a somber and sober chapter when there was no reason in the story to make that so.

There is also one final point that should sell you to the idea of scum-sifting which I have dubbed Frankensteining. Frakensteining is the process of taking two (or more) segments of writing that previously were non-compatible with the overarching narrative and re-writing parts of said narrative so that you are allowed to keep what had been written in those segments. I had to do this for a short story in my 201 Creative Writing course in which I took elements and sections of the story I had been writing, but later abandoned, and decided to place them into my new story. I was really only able to do this because my ideas about my second story’s overall narrative arch weren’t yet fully formed, so I was able to keep things malleable (malleability in a larger story is never a bad idea. It allows some larger-scale edits to take place. It might invalidate some sections of the story you have written before, but if the overall quality is improved, then the change could still be valid) and thus keep dialogue, characters, and settings that I had previous constructed.

Frankensteining and scum-sifting can really go hand-in-hand. If you wrote a character or dialogue string that you particularly enjoy, it’s entirely possible to combine one with the other, even if the source of said character or dialogue would be considered obsolete. This really only helps to reiterate how important it is to keep everything you write, as you may find something that could really give your writing some extra juice by looking in unexpected places.

So, in the end, just sit down (or stand, or however you feel most comfortable when writing) and write. Write until the words start to leak out of your ears, eyes, telekinetic glands, or any other suitable orifice. Write like nobody would ever look at what you’re making (and if you’re an indie author, that might not be very hard to imagine at all. ZING!) and then look at it! Yes, it will be a little bit painful at first, especially if you’re still super-critical of your writing, but just as the editing process makes books refined and clean, your own re-examination of your work will help refine it in a way that nobody else can. After all, if you look at what you’ve written three days later and you have no idea what you were even trying to say, it’s likely that nobody else will either. Which is a bad thing.

 

Well, if you’ve managed to make it all the way down here, throw some more sarcastic confetti again! My blunt-force-trauma-inducing ramblings managed to not beat you into submission! I also hope that you learned a little something from all of this. Or you just feel better about your writing processes if you’re already doing scum-sifting, “dirty writing,” or whatever else you wish to call it.

 


 

 

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves below- it’ll be neato keeno to see what else you other writer folk think on this whole thing!

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

END TRANSMISSION.