Cup of Dcaf: Getting Close to Your Characters

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“Write what you know”, right? It’s one of the most common writing tips, something that writers of all ages have no doubt heard many times. It’s pretty sound advice on the surface. After all, it’s tough to write about, say, a location in Italy if you’ve never been there or studied it. Trying to do something along those lines is begging for the writing to feel flat.

On the other hand, we need to write about things we don’t know—namely, characters. I’ve found that it’s very common for inexperienced (often young) writers to write characters who are very similar to them. It’s easy to do, because you know yourself better than you know anyone else. But that doesn’t make for very interesting stories. Things will get very stale, very quickly when all of your protagonists are the same person.

So the question remains: how do you write a variety of characters? Continue reading

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Cup of Dcaf: Short Fiction and Scenes

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After finishing the first draft of All Flames Cast, my mind has become increasingly bent on filling out the world and details of the next book(s) I’m going to tackle. I’ve found myself writing little character sketches, scenes, and short stories to help myself with building a new world for a new book. Over the course of this, I’ve gotten a clearer view of the differences between short stories and scenes, which is something I’ve found over the years to be a bit of a blurred line for many writers.

I went through a university degree in Creative Writing, as I know many, many other writers have, and as a result I kind of went through a crucible. There are a lot of pressures on an undergrad writing student—including the pressure to abandon genre fiction because of the flawed idea that it’s inherently inferior to lit fic—and one of those pressures is to learn how to write short stories. Continue reading

New Short Story – Ghosts

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As he stood on the porch and waited, the teasing breeze played with leaves overhead and underfoot. Absent in his thoughts, he reached up and rubbed his bare arms as goosebumps prickled his skin. The hint of chill entombed him, drawing contours in the hair on his arms and ruffling the thick brown mop on his head. He stared, distant, his clear blue eyes seeming prophecies of the impending season. A familiar hollowness lay within him, aching, settling.

Another puff of wind, as though something impish were playing with the air. He blinked, and when he opened his eyes again she was there. Continue reading

A Golden Day – Revised

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In celebration of the news that “A Golden Day” is going to be published this spring in the Greyrock Review, here’s the newest revised version! Enjoy…

 

Days like that were hard to come by. The September air was warm, but held just a hint of autumn’s crispness as it breezed through the multi-hued leaves on trees lining the street. Clouds dominated the sky, but enough sun broke through to illuminate the burnished reds and golds fluttering above.

Mark Yoren could not hold back a smile as he walked down the main road through campus. The weather was perfect, he thought, and did little except remind him of good times, both past and present. The future was all that troubled him, that day.

His senior year was upon him, the first test of the semester was looming, monstrous, scheduled for the next Monday. He and Andrew walked, side by side, and were silent despite the beneficent glow seeping through the husky greys and blooming whites of the cloud cover.

They were thinking about the same thing, Mark knew. Some of the best times they’d had since becoming friends happened on fall days like that. Days back in high school, five and six years ago, sneaking beers into their parents’ basements and drinking, or coming up with the most immature games they could think of. He missed the superficiality of it all. Continue reading

New Short Story – Solitaire

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This story came out of nowhere two days ago. Wasn’t happy with the original title, but I like the new one; the story is inspired by the song “The Islander” by Nightwish. If you don’t know the song or the band, check it out. They’re brilliant.

Grey spray exploded on grey rocks under the grey sky. Drops of sea mist descended, sprinkling through the low mist and tickling the Watcher’s leathery face. Early morning condensation dripped from his full grey beard and hung like tears from the brim of his somber brown hat. He blinked, once, as was his wont and turned away from that never-ending bleakness of salt and foam. It was not the first time he had done so; indeed, it was not the thousandth, nor ten thousandth. This existence tugged at him, hushed whispers present every morning reminding him of lives long past. Reminiscences of true sunrises and warm twilights reared their heads upon waking every morning, drawing him the long miles out to the lighthouse at the edge of the world. It was his to remember, his to regret, and his to watch for whatever might come from over those steely waves. Continue reading

New Short Story – A Golden Day

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This story was a tough one for me to write, for a couple reasons. The first is that, as you might have noticed from the title, it’s one of the central stories to my upcoming collection, Golden Days, Silver Nights. There was a bit more pressure than usual for me to get this one to fit together. The second reason was that I struggled with the theme of it, waffling between a straight nostalgia theme and a more personal one. Thanks to the advice of a man in my hometown, I went with the latter, even though I felt out of my comfort zone trying to write it. It is at his request that I post this story here.

 

                Days like that were hard to come by. The September air was warm, but held just a hint of autumn’s crispness as it breezed through the multi-hued leaves on trees lining the street. Clouds dominated the sky, but enough sun broke through to illuminate the burnished reds and golds fluttering above.

                Mark Yoren could not hold back a smile as he walked down the main road through campus. The weather was perfect, he thought, and did little except remind him of good times, both past and present. The future was all that troubled him, that day. Continue reading

Short Story – Unsweetened

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She wasn’t there, today. I felt the slightest of droops in my mood. I glanced back over my shoulder, through the glass of the door, hoping that I would see her hurrying across the street to get her coffee before rushing to wherever she worked. But no.

I let out a small sigh and got in line, fishing money from my pocket to purchase my own morning cup of Joe. It was Tuesday, after all, and I hated Tuesdays more than I hated Mondays, even. There was nothing like sitting at a desk for seven hours on the second day of the week, hunched over a keyboard, slowly acquiring Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during countless games of Solitaire. Continue reading