Block Breaker #7

I’ve not been writing much. I did NaNoWriMo in the two years I’ve been absent, but outside of that, lots of planning, but nothing actually going onto a page. I’ve got pretty terminal writer’s block, but as I mentioned in my vlog (Vlog 16th July 2022 – A New Start and Old Problems – YouTube) I want to get back to writing… so excitingly, after a month, I’ve finally done that. I wrote a little short story, and here it is – my first non-NaNoWriMo story in years

Continue reading “Block Breaker #7”

You’re doing it wrong…

Yay I’m writing, and it feels great.

Unfortunately I’m doing it wrong. I wanted to write a short story that would act as a prequel to my NaNoWriMo project this year. However, what I’ve done so far is write 1,006 words that have seen a spacecraft land on a planet, and my protagonist go through customs, and ride a taxi to a hotel. It’s not even got him in the room yet.

It’s not a big deal, obviously – a lot can be cut out in the edit, but now I’ve realised the problem I need to write differently, or face having an extra difficult edit process to cut it down. Makes sense? Unfortunately, there’s now a cognitive dissonance between what I’ve written and what I will be writing, switching styles after you’ve started isn’t great.

Needs must though, I feel the need to write this because I’ve made the decision for my NaNoWriMo novel start in the middle of it’s B plot, while the A plot has a more traditional three act structure. So the short story I’m writing is the first part of that B plot, it’ll give me some reference points, without bogging down the main novel with what really isn’t necessary for the story.

Plus it allows me to achieve one of my favourite things in novels, having a world that exists beyond the novel itself. One of my most hated things is stories that take place in a bubble, you want indications of a rich back story that led up to the events of your novel, without directly featuring them.

I also want to do a second short story, this second featuring a bit more world building so being broader in context than my current short story featuring the back story to the protagonist.

In the meantime, I need to get less detailed and more action and intention orientated to make this short story work. I’d like to limit myself to four thousand words.

I’ll publish the short stories on here once they’re done.

Short Story: The Peculiar Blade

I was in Scarborough for the weekend just gone, and took the opportunity to do a little writing – okay, it’s been a while since I actually wrote a story. Mostly I keep plotting them – but this one had no plot, I just wrote. It is very strictly a short story to enjoy, there isn’t much depth to it. I did enjoy writing it though.

The Peculiar Blade

by J L Lawrence

Thomas McVey looked at the peculiar blade in his hands and felt a strange premonition.

He walked over to the window and reflected on his quiet surroundings. He had always loved rainy Scarborough with its quiet, yet wild seaside. It was the place he always came to when in hiding, it was easier to move between the north and south halves of the city, and the headland made for interesting defensive positions.

From his room on the top floor of the hotel, looking out over the North bay, the sea wild with high winds, the sun deep down, he saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Mark Kowalski. Mark was an tenacious police agent who Thomas had known for some time was on his trail. Two years previous Thomas had got on Mark’s radar with an operation in Bristol, then again, another operation in Devon, that he had tracked him down in Scarborough over 300 miles away did not bode well.

Thomas gulped. He glanced at his own reflection. He looked older than his forty-five years, somehow the past decade on the path of revenge had taken its toll, but it had also made him lean, he had the hungry look of a predator, his skin was taught over lean muscles, belying a hard and fast man. What few acquaintances he had still contact with, saw him as a hard, focused and dark monster. His enemies saw a man to whom death would be inevitable, but until then he was a dark and dangerous killer best to be avoided.

But not even an incredible person who had dozens of kills under his belt, and had fended off more than his fair share of assassins, was prepared for what Mark had in store today.

The rain hammered like jumping rats, the wind made the sea roar, making it hard for Thomas to see and hear the danger around him, the only thing he was sure of was that Mark Kowalski was out there waiting for him.

As Thomas stepped outside and Mark came closer, he could almost see the hungry glint in his eye, and Thomas knew this man had violent intentions.

“I am here because I want justice,” Mark bellowed from the street, in a deranged tone. He slammed his foot down. “I frigging hate you, Thomas McVey, come down here and face me.” Despite the roaring from the ocean Thomas heard him nearly perfectly.

Thomas looked back, even more surprised and still fingering the peculiar blade, then he made up his mind and left the room and riding the antiquated lift down to the first floor where there was a communal balcony empty with the weather. “Mark, you must think I was born yesterday,” he called out.

They looked at each other with angry feelings, Detective Kowalski pulled a handgun from beneath his jacket, a simple Browning and took aim.

Thomas ducked back inside, and head for the stairs down, keeping an eye out for an attack, but he made it to the ground floor doorway.

Suddenly, Mark lunged forward and tried to punch Thomas in the face. Quickly, Thomas grabbed the peculiar blade and brought it down on Mark’s skull.

Mark’s dirty legs trembled and his ugly arms wobbled. He looked anxious, and scampered back, fumbling with the gun. Several over men rushed into the corridor; their guns ready.

Thomas smashed the fire alarm, and retreated back into the stair way, he ducked down heading towards the basement.

The unknown men followed him, but Thomas had moved into a narrow corridor with a blind right hand bend, which allowed him to meet the shadowy men one by one in close quarters, and he rapidly despatched them, rendering them unconscious or unable to stand as opportunity dictated. He wasn’t interested in a body count, he had no way of knowing who these men were, despite being sure they weren’t police.

Mark staggered through the narrow corridor, he started shooting blindly before he could see Thomas, sending ricochets and brick shards flying around the corner. Thomas had no choice but to retreat, coming to the large boiler for the hotel.

“It’s no use,” the detective called out, you’re trapped, and I have a gun and you only a knife.

Thomas refrained from replying, he focused on understanding his setting, the pipes and tanks that filled the boiler room.

Mark charged in, firing that anything that looked like a man. He fired three times before his gun was empty, and he had to stop release the clip to replace it.

Thomas charged out from behind one of the boiler tanks, hot and sweaty but still ready and able to fight, he let forth a roar as he drove the knife in between the ribs of the vengeful detective.

Mark let out an agonising groan and collapsed onto the ground. Moments later Mark Kowalski was dead.

Thomas McVey went back upstairs, and filtered into the crowd making their way out due to the fire alarm, disappearing from the crowd he walked the one mile back to the South Bay and took up occupancy in his back up hotel, and made himself a nice cup of tea.

THE END

Block Breaker #3

Block breakers are short stories, random ditties for which the only real purpose is to write something, anything when Writer’s Block strikes. Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – none of these words apply. Just write or die.

So I’m procrastinating from prepping for writing, by writing… here we go again!

P.s. days later, and this has turned into quite a monster, highlighted this in  the Ah the Corners post, it grew and grew, pulled in research, had a few bumpy changes of directions. It’s still not edited, nor even spell checked – exactly as a Block Breaker should be, but it’s 8,500 words, about ten times longer than it should be. Going to be another post, just exploring this monster. However I put it out there for those with the patient, and ability to read drivel.


Ascendant’s Fire

“Brother!” Kaalem screamed, spotting her enemy across the battlefield, she charged forwards sword gleaming in the light of fire and destruction around her as it trailed behind poised to strike.

Rylan turned to face the scream, he pulled his battleaxe from it’s recent victim, and as he moved into a  ready stance he drew the battleaxe up ready to strike, his gaze looked on the threat charging across the battlefield.

The siblings meters away from clashing, were suddenly seperated by a wall of fire that swept across the carnage between them, blocking the way.

Kaalem screamed as she drew up short before the flames, just then an enemy soldier charged at her, lunging with a lance, she rolled to the left away from the flames, and as she found her feet, the sword struck out biting into the out stretched arm, causing it to recoil in pain. The soldier was hardy though, he switched the lance to his arm, and wielded it one handed. Kaalem feigned a roll to the right, and as the lance struck true to where she should have been, she plunged her blade into his eye, his body went limp, and as she withdrew the blade the body slumped to the ground twitching.

A ghostly figure drew up beside the warrior.

“You did it,” she accused him, as she cleaned the blade.

“It was not time, you’re not ready,” the figure said calmly.

Continue reading “Block Breaker #3”

Post NaNoWriMo Challenge Plans

So following NaNoWriMo this year, win or lose, I’ve decided on a challenge to continue writing and build on whatever momentum I have, (or lost during November if it doesn’t go well).

I’ve got dozens of stories in my drafts that I’ve never finished for one reason or another, I’m going to go through them and finish a couple a week during November. Some of them are years old, and the original ideas and goals have faded from my mind, so it will be interesting to see where I go with them.

So Completionist December is going to be a thing. Of course that will be followed by Editing January, where I take a run at a second draft of my NaNoWriMo story, (editing is soul crushing, so usually doesn’t happen, maybe I’ll change it up and redraft and edit last year’s NaNoWriMo instead, for similar reasons as completing all those short stories, it’ll be interesting to see where I take it). I’m not planning further than January, because while at the moment I’ve got the writing, (and blogging bug), who knows where I’ll be come February onwards.

So things to look forward to, in the meantime I’m concentrating on planning and preperations for NaNoWriMo, and Block Breakers (short stories) for practice.

Ah… the corners! Please not the corners!

So I’ve written myself into a corner. First of all, fantastic I’m doing a couple of pieces of writing just days apart, got the bug again, and it feels good, until it didn’t.

So, Block Breaker #3 I’m writing a short fantasy piece… or I’d intended it to be short, literally just a battle scene, actually pretty much one fight between siblings amidst a battle scene… and I spoilt it within a  few words by separating them, and then ending the battle, alluding to a greater conflict with sorcerers. That was fine, the story takes place over  a couple of battles then.

So the corner… that’s where I am now, I’ve written myself into a corner with a big dialogue piece that’s really spun the story out. Going to have to delete it and go back, shorter dialogue that just tells the essentials. Problem is, that goes against my self imposed no editing rules for Block Breakers.

So what are my options to leave the corner, and maintain my rules? Well I can have a slightly disjointed story, where in the first part I’ve gone dialogue and plan heavy, and have a time jump that skips all the stuff I’ve set up, and brings us closer to the main line of the story, think Thanos getting the power stone off screen in the Avenger’s film. Or I could play it out, go for a 15k story, rather than the 1 to 2k’s I’d originally anticipated, (really I just felt like practising writing a fight scene as a warm up for NaNoWriMo in a couple of months), and lastly I could just stop and start something else.

I think the time jump is my best option, may even try and lay the suggestions that it was an epic bit we jumped, I can always do what TV and movies do, and do a spin off story that follows that adventure later, when I need some more practice in the genre, I don’t often revisit characters. Of course, I often don’t finish stories I start, so sequels aren’t a thing for me.

The long and the short of it though, is this is why I’m going to be carefully plotting my NaNoWriMo entry this year, because writing yourself into a corner, or far from the plot is exactly why I don’t finish a lot of stories I start.  I finished NaNoWriMo last year because I had a plan, and even though I drifted from it, I had a path to guide it back to.

But I’m going to keep going with the Block Breakers, because I feel like writing. Probably helps that for the month of September I’m keeping off other Social Media platforms – if you’re interested visit the Royal Society for Public Health , I started on the 1st September, and we’re 9 days in, and I’ve been writing more. I’m choosing not to count my blog as Social Media, (even though it technically is).

So enough rambling, I’ve got a time jump to do, and a no editing policy on Block Breakers to maintain. Hope you’ll excuse some bad writing in the middle, for what will hopefully be an exciting ending.

Block Breaker #2

Block breakers are short stories, random ditties for which the only real purpose is to write something, anything when Writer’s Block strikes. Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – none of these words apply. Just write or die.

Not done one in a while, but got an itch.


 

Middling William

by Jonathan Lawrence

I remember the day I first met William, like it was yesterday, even as the decades have flowed by, it’s one of my most vivid memories.

The strange thing is when I first met him, he didn’t leave that much of an impression immediately. He was middling everything, middling height, middling build, middling clothes – I mean everything.

“Ms Rebutem,” William said curt but polite.

“Constable,” I replied, barely noticing him among the crowd of Lookie-loos, here to see the accident. It took me several moments to realise someone had addressed me by name. I’m not crazy, or stupid, but when a tanker over turns as a police officer in London, your focus tends to be on the multitudes that come to gawp, oh don’t look at me like that, the fire brigade and ambulance were dealing with the driver.

“Excuse me, how do you know my name?” I asked him.

“It’s on your label,” he said matter of factly pointing at the velcro patch on my stab vest, it was a more dangerous world back then, “I’m William,” he was returning the gift.

“It also says Constable,” I said annoyed at the middling man, “I’m kind of busy right now.”

“You’ll be busier when that tanker explodes,” he said confidently, there was nothing middling about his voice, it was both strong and calm, easily audible over the throng of by standers, he looked at his watch, “In about one minutes give or a take a few seconds. I’d call everyone back, if I were you?”

“What?” I asked confused and still annoyed, and mildly alarmed even though in the back of my mind I was sure he was a lunatic.

Continue reading “Block Breaker #2”

Block Breaker #1

Block breakers are short stories, random ditties for which the only real purpose is to write something, anything when Writer’s Block strikes. Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – not of these words apply. Just write or die.
It fell to second engineer William Hardaway,  the future of all. Never in the history of man had so much rested on one person.

“Will you do it?” Susan Ashcroft asked, she was a young lean shrewd looking woman who’s intent gaze locked onto William.

The elder man cleared his throat, and stroked the unkempt site beard that wrapped round his face. “You ask too much,” he finally said, his voice raspy and breathless betraying some excitement at the offer he was being made.

“I ask nothing, I’m just the messenger,” Susan said with mild annoyance, “You are in control for now.”

“You’re asking me to die,” William stated.

“A noble death, all of creation depends on your choice, you have control,” Susan said.

“A noble death,” William mused stroking his unkempt beard again, “Yes. I can do that.”

“Then press the button,” Susan said, “Save us all.”

Deep within the bowels of the derelict spaceship orbiting Sol, a beaten and bloody William dragged himself to the engine console.

“You can do it,” Susan encouraged him, her image flickering in the air.

“For Earth, for Humanity,” William said and then screaming against the pain he reached out with both arms and pulled the levers that would finish the core overload. Alarms rattled off.

“You need to point the engines at the Sol, quickly there isn’t much time,” Susan said urgently.

William pulled himself up further, fighting the pain, the fatigue and the darkness encroaching on his vision, he pushed further along the console and pushed a button labelled ‘port thrusters’, the ship rocked and heaved.

“Thank you,” Susan said looking down. It was the last thing William heard before he passed out.

 

Just a thousands miles above Sol, the space ship rotated round, and then it’s engines exploded sending a wave of energy powered by an explosion made up of exotic particles. The wave hit the Sol, the Earth’s sun. As the explosion hit the plasma it became super heated.

One hundred and fifty million miles away, eight minutes at light speed, the people of the Earth celebrated as the dimness felt across the world faded and light started to stream again. It had been three months since the sun had begun to cool, and the apocalypse was nigh, but William Hardaway had saved them all.

Daily Flash Fiction: The Early Conclusion

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

Genesis 1:31

And the writer saw everything he had written, and behold, he saw 14 grammatical errors, 27 spelling mistakes, 5 plot inconsistencies, and 3 unbelievable truths

Jonathan L. Lawrence, May 2013

 

Hands up if anyone noticed I’d not posted in a month? Well I noticed, and it was very annoying, because it means I’m really really quite far behind on my daily flash fic posting. So far behind that it’s gotten to a month and a half, (well 44 days to be precise). I’m never going to catch that up, because I don’t think I can commit to daily stories at the moment. It’s never been my style, I’m not a short story writer. Well despite 135 short stories to the contrary.

That said, I am really proud of some of them, yes they all need a lot of work – the challenge was not to edit and just keep posting, but there are some real gems in there.

And since I’m very fond of stats, I’ve had a look at some for this challenge:

105,168 words written (in story only)

796 average story length

Here’s some graphs, because I love a good graph. The first shows my words per day, and a moving average word count. It shows I was gradually getting shorter in length, which was a goal of the challenge, so that’s something positive to take away:

From Word Usage

The second is just for my interest really, I like seeing an accumulative word count. Of course with a limit of 1,000 words maximum, and for most of the challenge a minimum of 500 it was pretty much guaranteed to run a relatively straight line, but it’s nice to see all the same:

From Word Usage

Aside from getting bogged down in distractions, apathy, and writer’s block, I’ve enjoyed the challenge for the most part. And it’s succeeded in several ways, such as having the chance to try new things, practice things I’ve never been particularly good at, writing with a little more abandon. It’s also given me ample opportunity to see where my skills are weakest in the fundamentals, (spelling and grammar that I simply don’t get).

It’s also more words than I’ve written outside of NaNoWriMo since I started doing NaNoWriMo, and probably from before then too.

I’m not done though, although I won’t be trying to keep up with 365 short stories in a year, I am going to post the occasional short story – to keep my eye in for next year, to give me a break from other projects, and to simply test out an idea I’ve got bouncing round in my head.

In the meantime I’ve got two pretty big story ideas, neither of which will be saved for NaNo, I want to write them now. I’m in a planning phase at the moment with brain storms and notes scattered all around. I’ve decided which one I’m going to write first, though I’ve written a few lines, (the proverbial foothold in enemy territory of the plain white page), I’m mostly writing out the back story. It’s a fantasy piece and it requires a good backing mythos to really work.

I’ll get you next time, Gadget. Next time!