Monday, January 21, 2013

Writer of the Fortnight

Welcome to the first of what I hope to be a fortnightly (who'd've guessed) Writer of the Fortnight. On Writing.com there are many great writers, and I enjoy reading much of the brilliant work people post on there. As part of my fantasy writing group there is a contest titled Magic Words where entrants are tasked with writing a short story that includes all five words from one of two lists of words. The contest isn't ran by me, but I help judge it.

The winner of the last round chose the word list with Symbiotic, Ring, Halcyon, Penumbra, and Diffuse. His tale was one with a gripping plot and disturbing protagonist, plagued with lifestyle dictated by a mystical living ring. The ring wants nothing other than to survive, but to do this will lead its master to commit terrible, murderous deeds.

So, I would like to award Writer of the Fortnight to O. G. Patterson (Sir Various) for writing Crux of Madness.

Writer of the Fortnight
Writer of the fortnight - Sir Various
Original image from boundbytheword.wordpress.com, edited by me

You can follow Patterson's blog at orensrealm.com.

To entice you to read the story, here's the opening paragraph:


I didn't have much longer to live, if I was lucky. The half-moon above cast a perfect reflection on the halcyon waters of the shrouded lake before me. The waters were inviting, succulent, enticing…a dark tease that tempted me into its promise of a cool oblivion. It seemed so easy. If I could surprise the ring somehow, the water’s embrace would swallow me and I would finally have peace. Just a quick and sudden dash into the water, then I could force myself under…
The opening line is one of the best I've read. It is simple, yet packs a punch.

 Crux of Madness is written as a 'thought-flow' - a story in the form of a characters thoughts. This style is very difficult to do well. You have to get the right balance between character building, world building, and plot development. It is all too easy to go overboard with the character building without giving the reader a sense of place and not actually having an engaging plot.

I have written thought flows in the past as part of a larger story. These often start off as traditional first person narratives, but then after a specific event it becomes a thought flow. Examples of my though-flows are:

  • Trick or Treat - where the thought-flow starts soon after the first death. This isn't technically a though-flow as such as I often pull out of the flow for more traditional story methods.
  • Positive Thoughts - where the thought-flow starts after the driver dies.
  • The Spirit - where the thought-flow comes in and out with the first being after Fred and the ladder. Again, this isn't technically a thought-flow as it doesn't stay in the protagonists mind for long enough. However, I include it as the idea of thoughts being the driving force of a story is there.
Thought-flows are my favourite type of short story to read. Done well, they are easy to read, but have complex character to devote your time to.

Let me know what you thought to the story and anything else you read in this post using the comment box below. Also please like, tweet and share this post using the social media tools after this post.

Thanks

ps I am hoping to post one blog post a day this week and as for as long after that as possible. Wish me luck?

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