Short Story First Draft

This is very rough

Skena Frolicfay, a business woman from Ganymede, a business moon of Jupiter. She was watching a monitor as the planet Earth, was about to be swallowed by the sun, currently in its Red Giant phase.
The screen went blank, as her boyfriend, Culbert Bloodlocks, wanted to communicate.
“Hi honey, I’ve got us a holiday on the ocean moon Europa. Can you take a full orbit off work?”
“Sure, it’s funny, we have a business deal that is taking forever. There’s a guy that won’t make up his mind. We’d need to rent a shuttle, got any ideas?”
“There’s an old company called Max-Travels Ltd. giving cheap flight trips for this orbit. I’ve got a deal. See you later.”
Skena’s screen returned to the scene of the Earth being eaten by the Red Giant Sun.”

*****

Skena and Culbert arrived at the docks. Skena noticed Max-Travels Ltd. was only one guy and his beautiful girlfriend that was servicing an old shuttle. Skena said, “Hello, we booked a return flight to Europa.”
“Oh… yes, I’m sorry. I’m Maximus Blackglove, and this is my business partner Deidra Magic, I’m the owner of this company. It’ll be 20 to 30 minutes… ok!”
“Isn’t that oil dripping into a bucket?”
“Yes oil, it’s working, we’ll be on our way in 30 to 40 minutes, ok! The former shuttles are still in excellent shape.”

*****

On arrival at the ship hotel sailing on the sunny side of Europa Skena and Culbert had unpacked in their room and visited the wine bar that evening. They had a bottle of wine. Culbert said, “I’ve got you something, and this is an excellent location to ask you. Look in your handbag, there’s a small box.”
“Oh yes, where did this come from?”
“Open it.”
“Awww… it’s an engagement ring.”
“Skena, will you marry me?”
“Oh, of course, we are a good team together.”
Culbert went to the bar for another bottle of wine. While he was away Maximus and Deidra could be seen by Skena, they were dancing together with little clothing and very sexy together. Later that evening the engaged couple were eating, and Skena’s Phone rang. Skena looked at the phone, and it indicated that her business manager wanted to talk. “Oh, it’s Tawnee, my marketing director, I’ll take this call just outside the room.”
On her return to the dining table, she said she needed to visit Callisto, another moon of Jupiter, to have a sales talk with the undecided customer. It shouldn’t take long, and she would be back within a tenth of an orbit.
“What do you have to go?”
“Look, I’ve got responsibilities too. You men don’t run the show everywhere.”
“Ok, be safe and come back quickly.”
“I’ll have to use Max-Travels again.”

*****

Skena tapped on Maximus’ door, it was open, and the force of her knocks pushed the door wider open. She could see Maximus and Deidra on the bed together having some fun. Maximus noticed Skena and jumped from the bed and used a sheet to cover himself. “Yes?”
“I need to take a short visit to Callisto for my business. I’ll give you an extra 500 credits.”
“Well I don’t know, we are on holiday too.”
“600 credits.”
He turned and looked at Deidra, she looked upset and dropped to sheet she had been using to cover herself. He turned back to Skena and said, “This is an upper management meeting.”
“A thousand credits.”
“Well… you’ll be back here soon?” said Max.
“Yes, a very brief meeting.”
“Ok, we’ll take another trip. One thousand credits.”

*****

During the flight, there was a radio warning that solar flares could hit. “Damn, this is bad, we’ll have to go back to Europa to wait this one out,” said Max. After he finished speaking, the shuttle shook, and the electrical equipment was emitting sparks all over the shuttle. “Oh shit, we are going to have to land fast.”
“Where, we’re a long way from Europa.”
“Jupiter has 69 moons, there’s one just a minute away.”
There was a loud crack, and a bright light filled the shuttle. Max crash landed the shuttle on a small moon. The communication circuits were broken and one of the rockets that propelled the shuttle, no longer worked.
“We are going to get rescued aren’t we?” said Skena.
“Look, our radio is not working, but we are in one piece, and I think this moon is Thebe, and there’s a beacon on this moon, so we turn the signal off and someone comes to fix it. We can call for rescue through their radio. We’ll both have to look for the beacon, I’ve got another suit for you.”

*****

Max and Skena were out on the moon and Max had a map of where the indicator should be. They followed the map to the location of Thebe’s beacon. But it wasn’t anywhere to be found.
Max frowned, and said, “Ok, this is probably not Thebe. It could be Amalthea, another similarly sized moon close to Thebe. This moon doesn’t have a Beacon.”
“So how we going to get rescued? What’s on Amalthea?”
Max stared at Skena and said, “You and me. We could be here a long, time.” Max started to shake his fists and scream, “Agh… No…”
“Look, calm down. I need you to be the courageous and confident Captin.”
Max finally calmed down, and said, “We need to go back to the ship and see if we can fix the radio and work out how to make water and food. Don’t worry water is just Hydrogen and Oxygen, we use them for fuel, and there’s plenty of that on board. The food will be little bags of emergency rations.”

******

Back on Europa more than an orbit had passed. Culbert and Deidra were called into an accident room together and told that Maximus and Skena had not reached Callisto and was overdue and Max didn’t answer his radio, and both of them assumed dead. Things were not looking good, so Deidra clung close to Culbert and asked, “We should go to my quarters and have sex. Everyone has sex when they find out someone close has died.”
“Not everyone,” said Culbert while wiping the tears from his eyes. He was tempted by her very sexy look and attitude. He was still very upset about Skena.

*****

A full orbit had gone by; Maximus and Skena were still on the moon unable to fix their radio. While looking out of a window, Skena saw two small shuttle craft landing close together. She screamed and said, “Ohh, there is two other craft not too far away. Yay, we could signal them and be rescued.” Max and Skena left the shuttle and walk on the moon towards the two new ships. There’s a bright flash, and one ship explodes. Max says to Skena, “Shit, they are pirates, and if they find out we are here they will kill both of us. We must get back to my shuttle and risk taking off with one thruster.” Climbing back into the shuttle there is another bright flash and Max collapses. Skena manages to push Max into the shuttle. Max is almost unconscious but says, “Look, sit in the pilot seat, and I’ll show you how to fly. Bu-but, if the thruster stops working at any point, w-we will just continue moving on that trajectory for ever more.” The shuttle lifts off the moon, and Skena gets them back to Europa. The shuttle loses the last thruster, and it splashes into the water. Max is now unconscious, but close to a ship that saw the crash. Both of them are rescued, and Max is taken to a hospital.
Skena and Culbert talk about what happened, and Skena finds out Culbert slept with Deidra. Skena says to Culbert, “I think I’ve fallen out of love with you and fallen in love with Max.”

*****

In the hospital, Skena visits Max’s bed and discusses what has happened. Skena says, “It looks like you are getting better.”
“Yes, it was a bad concussion, but I’m slowly getting over that.”
“What’s the situation with us?”
“What do you mean?”
“Over the last orbit, I think we both discovered something about ourselves and each other.”
“Look, I’m not moving to Ganymede and be your secretary, and you are not likely to become my co-pilot. My life is too simple for you and yours is too complicated for me.”
“I don’t know, I could convert to a simpler way. It’s often not what you do, but with whom you are doing it. I think I’m in love with you.”

The Plot of a Love Story

Rules of the Love Club

1. The prospect of love should always meet with a major obstacle. Your characters may want it, but they cannot have it for any variety of reasons. At least not right away.

2. The lovers are usually ill-suited in some way. They may come from different social classes-beauty queen/nerd; Montagues and Capulets, or they may be physically unequal; one is blind or disabled.

3. The first and always thwarted attempt is made to solve the obstacle. Success does not come easily. Dedication and stick-to-it-love must be proven.

4. As one observer once put it, love usually consists of one person offering the kiss and the other offering the cheek, meaning one lover is more aggressive in seeking love than the other.
The dynamic partner is the seeker, who completes the majority of the action. The passive partner, who may want love just as much, still waits for the aggressive partner to overcome the obstacles. Either sex can play either role.

5. Love stories do not need to have happy endings. If you try to force a happy ending on a love story that unmistakably doesn’t deserve one, your audience will refuse it. Genuinely, Hollywood prefers happy endings, but some of the world’s best love stories; Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Heloise and Abelard, are very sad.

6. Concentrate on your main characters to make them appealing and convincing. Avoid the stereotypical lovers. Make your characters and their circumstances unique and enjoyable. You will have to feel deeply for your characters, however. If you do not, neither will your readers.

7. Emotion is a primary element in writing about love. Not only should you be convincing, but you should develop the full range of feelings: fear, loathing, attraction, disappointment, reunion, consummation. Love has many feelings associated with it, and you should be prepared to develop them according to the needs of your plot.

8. Understand the sentiment and sentimentality in your writing and decide which is better for your story. If you are writing a formula romance, you may want to use the tricks of sentimentalism. If you are trying to write a one-of-a-kind love story, you will want to avoid sentimentality and rely on genuine sentiment in your character’s feelings.

9. Your lovers need to go through all the love. Be sure they are repeatedly tested; individually and collectively, and that they finally deserve the love they seek. Love is earned; it is not a gift. Love untested is not true love.

The Forbidden Love Plot

1. Forbidden love is any love that goes opposite to the conventions of that particular society, so there is usually either an explicit or certain force exerted against the lovers.
2. The sweethearts ignore social convention and seek their hearts, usually with unfavourable results.
3. Adultery is the most well-known form of forbidden love. The adulterer may either be the protagonist or antagonist, depending on the type of the story. The same is valid for the offended spouse.
4. The first dramatic phase should define the relationship between partners and phrase it in its social circumstances. What are the taboos that they have divided? How do they manage it themselves? How do the characters around them handle it? Are the lovers moonstruck, or do they deal with the realities of their affair head on?
5. The second dramatic phase should take the beloveds into the heart of their relationship. The lovers may start out in an idyllic period, but as the social and psychological realities of their affair become apparent, the romance may begin to dissolve or come under elevated pressure to dissolve.
6. The third dramatic phase should take the lovers to the endpoint of their relationship and settle all the moralistic scores. The lovers are usually separated, either by death, restraint or leaving.

Fall Short Story Competition

This new Short Story competition is on. TheWritePractice.

1500 words on falling in love in:

Medieval France, or

The Moons of Jupiter.

Interesting, the medieval years in France would range from about 481 to 1430, which is around a thousand years. Everyone in castles and my favourite Shakespeare play Hamlet, even though in Denmark, it would bubble up some Hamlet and Ophelia type scenarios.

The moons of Jupiter however, would be set for some aliens or very, very far future human race, or a trip to some Jupiter moon as an exploratory trip for a Mark Watney type character and a fellow explorer.

From the feedback given in the previous short story competition, I would create a theme and edit the crap out of any dialogue, also put in a lot of research into current romance short stories. I am tempted to use the second person point of view. It’s only 1500 words and the reader could assume the role of the lover or the loved at the beginning. Mmm, some fun for the next two weeks.

Feedback From Publisher

My Short Story – Late for Work

This story has a creative concept with its apparent trickster alien as well as nice attention to detail (the time, the location, the look of the alien, etc.). However, the purpose of the story isn’t entirely clear; what do you see as the thematic exploration driving it? For example, it could explore the idea of being open-minded, especially if this encounter changes the main character moving forward. I’d like to see a bit more attention to the thematic elements of the story as well as attention to realistic-sounding dialogue. There is potential here, but for now we would pass on this story.

FROM THE PUBLISHER: We enjoy dialogue that is simple yet refined. It’s important to write dialogue similar to how you might speak it in the real world, but add a dash of refinement. Going forward, try writing a few lines of dialogue then read them aloud. Does it roll off the tongue? Does it make sense? Is it something you can imagine an actor saying in a movie?

At this point, we think your dialogue could use some work. Focus on the suggestions above and just keep it simple. All it takes is a practice. Can’t wait to hear from you in the future 🙂

I was aware that the story was not the best as I had been occupied with keeping to the solution of the mistakes I made in the earlier Spring competition. These comments do help my short story writing and there is another competition to enter 🙂

Maintaining the Suspension of Disbelief

 

In fiction writing, it is the primary intention of the writer to attain and maintain the suspension of disbelief. The further away from reality the manuscript goes, the more doubt enters the reader’s mind. Apparently, if the genre is Fantasy then a new world may be built, and the activities within that world must be consistent. However, if someone is on an alien planet, with different animals and life forms but has a chicken sandwich for lunch, then there arises an element of disbelief.
In the genre Crime Fiction set in the UK in present times, the greater I leave reality, the more the scepticism becomes a problem. Everything must be a realistic action within the format of life in the UK, and then the suspension of disbelief will continue without a problem. The fiction I write is just a scenario that has not occurred, but is feasible to occur. The actions people make have not occurred, but would be likely in that particular case.

Flashbacks for Key Events

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Using flashbacks to highlight a past event or emotion to enforce the gravitas of the mood or situation. There is nothing innately wrong with flashbacks. Some writing instructors will say, a flashback is a mortal sin, but a flashback is a bad thing if it’s dull. The first mistake is using bland narrative summary flashbacks as if they’re in a hurry to return to the main action. If the back story is relevant and worth presenting in the first place, then it should probably be dramatised and vivid as the principal ongoing activity. The other mistake is writing flashbacks that are unnecessary; in other words, they give back story that just isn’t needed—dull stuff better left unsaid. The good thing about flashbacks is that it allows you to show background information that is relative to the story, without info dumping. In summary; only use flashbacks to impart knowledge to the reader that they need to know to understand the story course.
Ask:
1, Is this event or emotion essential to understanding the plot or characters?
2, Is this the most efficient way to reveal this information?
Your answers should be a definite yes to both of those questions.

Second Person POV

The 2nd Person is better used in the short story arena. It might become overbearing in a novel of 50,000 words or more.

In this point of view the protagonist is the reader of sorts, but a more pleasant approach would be the Second Person Interior, where events are so personal that the protagonist of the story can only admit them to themselves.

1st Person                                   2nd Person                                      3rd Person

My, I, Mine                                    You, Your                                        He, She, They

The Short Story ‘Forever Overhead,’ by David Foster Wallace uses 2nd Person, but the use of the Pronoun is excessive. Perhaps it was deliberate but 2.5 pronouns every line is a little much. For example I quote the first three paragraphs:

Happy Birthday. Your thirteenth is important. Maybe your first really public day. Your thirteenth is the chance for people to recognize that important things are happening to you.

Things have been happening to you for the past half year. You have seven hairs in your left armpit now. Twelve in your right. Hard dangerous spirals of brittle black hair. Crunchy, animal hair. There are now more of the hard-curled hairs around your privates than you can count without losing track. Other things. Your voice is rich and scratchy and moves between octaves without any warning. Your face has begun to get shiny when you don’t wash it. And two weeks of a deep and frightening ache this past spring left you with something dropped down from inside: your sack is now full and vulnerable, a commodity to be protected. Hefted and strapped in tight supporters that stripe your buttocks red. You have grown into a new fragility.

And dreams. For months there have been dreams like nothing before: moist and busy and distant, full of yielding curves, frantic pistons, warmth and a great falling; and you have awakened through fluttering lids to a rush and a gush and a toe-curling scalp-snapping jolt of a feeling from an inside deeper than you knew you had, spasms of a deep sweet hurt, the streetlights though your window blinds cracking into sharp stars against the black bedroom ceiling, and on you a dense white jam that lisps between legs, trickles and sticks, cools on you, hardens and clears until there is nothing but gnarled knots of pale solid animal hair in the morning shower, and in the wet tangle a clean sweet smell you can’t believe comes from anything you made inside you.

The use of pronouns can be omitted, not completely, but drastically reduced. Turning 289 words with 26 pronouns into 5.  The 2nd Person is merely instructions. My edited version (If it was deliberate, I apologise to David Foster Wallace profoundly for my diatribe):

Happy Birthday. Your thirteenth is important. The first really public day. The thirteenth is the chance for people to recognize that significant things are happening.

Things have been happening for the past half-year. Seven hairs in the left armpit now. Twelve in the right. Hard dangerous spirals of brittle black hair. Crunchy, animal hair. There are now more of the hard-curled hairs around the privates than you can count without losing track. Other things. Voice is rich and scratchy and moves between octaves without any warning. The face has begun to get shiny when you don’t wash it. And two weeks of a deep and frightening ache this past spring that left something dropped down from inside: sack is now full and vulnerable, a commodity to be protected. Hefted and strapped in tight supporters that stripe your buttocks red. Grown into a new fragility.

And dreams. For months there have been dreams like nothing before: moist and busy and distant, full of yielding curves, frantic pistons, warmth and a great falling; awakened through fluttering lids to a rush and a gush and a toe-curling scalp-snapping jolt of a feeling from an inside deeper, spasms of a deep sweet hurt, the streetlights though the window blinds cracking into sharp stars against the black bedroom ceiling, a dense white jam that lisps between legs, trickles and sticks, cools, hardens and clears until there is nothing but gnarled knots of pale solid animal hair in the morning shower, and in the wet tangle a clean sweet smell that can’t be believed comes from anything made inside yourself.

 

Dialogue

People speak very differently

  • Dialogue is not just two people talking in a vacuum with no body or face. You need the setting and time of day and season of the year, just set up the scene.
  • Make sure the words someone is saying is in character as people speak differently. It’s their character.
  • Also, there is the subtext within a conversation. The subtext is not what people are saying, it’s what people are implying while talking to each other.
  • When people talks, they don’t just utter the words. Some people use hand gestures and facial expressions. They use body language to emphasise their words. These actions can be added to the dialogue.
  • It is important for dialogue to get to the point quickly and do not start with conversation fluff like:

“Oh hiya.”
“How was your day?”
“Oh, it’s ok, and yours?”

  • A lot of people also use umm’s and err’s in everyday conversations. Using these is good to imply thinking and doubt. But don’t overuse these as they slow down the dialogue.
  • Familiarisation is needed as you don’t speak to your best friend the same way that you speak to someone you have never met before.
  • Don’t forget that the dialogue tag ‘said’ is invisible when reading and is usually ignored and lets the conversation flow. Using other tags interrupt the flow of the conversation. Do Not use them unless the communication flow is intended to be interrupted.