(At Christmas, I presented the original Chapter One from Flight of the Wren. I’m doing the same here with the origianal first chapter of Spark. Funny thing—both books were originally written in third person first time around. I later reconstituted some elements of this scene in the final version, but in a very different way. Try picturing this scene as the opening of a movie, a long camera crawl up the alley as we follow our friends, Norm and Andy. And…action!)
File this with the Marketable Me series because…er, well, because it’s marketing, right? Expose your book to as many people as possible! Get the word out! Offer folks a bargain! or a freebie!! or a prize!!!
(Okay. Full disclosure: The fact is I am promoting this giveaway, and it is a good deal, and I’ll talk about it for real after I finish this parenthetical, but in the mean time, what’s with all the exclamation points?
Ah, exclamation point. I read somewhere that old-time typesetters used to call them bangs, because it was easier and faster to say “Pass me a bang” than “Pass me an exclamation point.” I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a good name.
The word and the mark go together. Try picturing the word without the mark.
(Curtis Bausse, author of One Green Bottle, is hosting a short story writing contest. Now I know some of you are writers. You should check it out. He asked me to judge the contest. I agreed. He asked if I had any advice or comments for the contestants. I do.)
Short stories intimidate me.
I’ve written seven novels over the last eight years. Not all are ready (or even close to ready) for the editor’s ruthless blue pencil, but they’re complete. And they are substantial things, averaging about 80,000 words each. In that same time, how many short stories have I written?
Right, four. Because short stories are harder. For me anyway. A good short story can do everything a novel can do: drop you into another world; give you characters that you sympathize with; give you a story that you care about and an ending that stays with you long past the turning of the last page. But a good short story doesn’t need 80,000 words to do it.
A Perfect Day for Banana-Fish only requires 4,009 words. A Cask of Amontillado, a mere 2,495.
The Gift of the Magi is only 2,163. Little Things, by Raymond Carver, 499.
Curtis and I set the limit for this contest at 2,000 words. I don’t envy you your task. That’s about eight pages, double-spaced. A helluva a lot can happen in eight pages. Or hardly anything at all. Continue reading “Surprise Me.”