Monday, March 31, 2014

Semi-annual Blogging Break

I thought I could slip into silence for a little while unnoticed, silly me. I'm on a blogging break for a little bit, due to family reasons, so I'm not sure when I'll start back up, although I hope to have at least another guest post for you soon. Sometimes life stretches you so thin that you can only give a half and hour at most to some regular activities and everything slows down due to the high volume of tasks in front of you. I miss the interaction online with all of you. I hope writing is a joy right now, that those of you seeking publication find the right  path for you, and that there is some sunshine in your lives each day. And if you can't see any sunshine right now, I hope things get better soon. The clouds come and go but the sun is always there above them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Guest Post: The Story Behind My First Story #1

When a reader picks up a book, they see the finished product, that's it. But every story has a lot more to it, and I don't just mean the parts taken out to streamline the novel.

Here to share the story behind his first story is writer Andre Ford.

In his own words: "I enjoy life in the southeastern portion of the United States where I write a number of short stories and articles. The short stories I write for science fiction are loosely based on personal experiences that are then shaped and molded by my wild imagination. I also enjoy writing for a website that focuses on aviation. Doing interviews with the various people that frequent the site, and interviews for a magazine, prompted me to interview people around the world, from many walks of life, about various subjects. These interviews are collected on two sites; Lounge 1506 and the 1506 Virtual Spotlight. The latter is devoted to the game development industry and mod development. In the end, whether it’s for my sites or for science fiction, I simply enjoy writing."

Check out Lounge 1506 where Andre conducts his interviews, also on Facebook.

And now, here's the behind-the-scenes look at Andre's first story:

The story about my first is short … like my first story which for some reason was titled “Out of Gas.” It was written a year or two after the attack on the World Trade Centers and gas prices has started to sky rocket. My wild imagination did what it does best and took that current scenario and stretched it out far into the future one that eventually turned the United States of America into a wasteland. A land created not by nuclear fire but by greed and stupidity.

Oil barons and politicians have worked together and have virtually made impossible for the masses to function and made it to where the few two percent of the society that were billionaires and millionaires could still enjoy life. These aristocrats moved off to France. Why? Well that’s where the dart landed and I went with it. So the extreme rich people were in enjoying the fruits of their greed in France and the rest of the nation was reduced to nothing except for the fact three factions rose from the ashes.

No thought went into these factions and I’m really ashamed to admit what I called them, but here we go. I had Pedestrians, Riders, and Drivers. Pedestrians are a tribal society because they walk everywhere. Riders are a step up; they’re cowboys that use horses to get around. Lastly the Drivers; you guessed it, they have cars and they’re most advanced society. Drivers used alternative fuels that have been outlawed which makes Drivers scum in the eyes of the aristocrats.

My characters, a group of kids, from Dodge City were to go on a convoy to resupply another city. Then of course along the way a bunch of things happen and they eventually learned to not fear the Riders or Pedestrians; they’ve always been told these two lower factions would kill them on sight and want not. A typical story really the main characters have a change of heart and they learn to cope with those around them. Eventually their experiences help them become better people and to grow.

What killed my first story was inexperience. Info dumps consumed a large portion of the story. The rest or the story didn’t show a lot of things and it reads like a sterile report about something. There were no emotions that you could connect with. In addition to being poorly formatted it was also too predictable. If you’re thinking …this sounds like Fallout mixed with Mad Max you’d be right to do so. The Mad Max movies and Fallout games (Fallout 1 and 2 at the time) did have a huge impact on my first story.

So that is the short, silly, and embarrassing story about my first story “Out of Gas.” I thank Clippership for letting me write about it because I can see now how far I have come since then and I hope you enjoyed reading it just as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Thank you for sharing, Andre! It's fascinating to see the other side of the writing process, the cutting room floor, or the "bloopers."

For readers: Do you have an anecdote or strong memory of trying to write your first story? I'd love to feature you on the blog. Contact me (see the sidebar) or share in the comments.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Power of Words Pt. 3

I've discussed how words can build people up and tear them down, and how words do influence us and others in this post and this post. Now lets take a look at authority and how having a position of authority gives your words more power. Furthermore, think about how that power can be wielded for good or bad as you watch this video:

I don't know about you, but this experiment brought up a number of questions. One of the first ones was how our recognition of authority or position overrides our personal sense of right and wrong. How easily we can be cowed by the loudest, strongest, or most charismatic voices. If told to do something, should we just do it because someone says so?

There's a fine line between respecting authoritywhich is necessary for any civilized society to run efficientlyor giving someone more authority by doing what they say. Likewise, if we were in the position of authority, how tempting would it be to abuse that authority or influence and have others do what we say?

And if pressed, would we have the moral courage to stand up against someone else when asked to do something we inwardly know is wrong?

I thought mostly of dystopian novels while watching this video, but I think there are several lessons here that writers of all genres could expound on and use. What did you get from it?