Surprise! I’m a writer!

Why surprise? Well I’ve surprised myself, we’re now two months into this writing challenge, and I’ve not stopped.

I wasn’t entirely convinced I’d stick with it, but I have this far. There’s still 298 stories to go, but it’s been a good start.

There’s a lot going on in my life, which has served as quite the distraction. I’ve missed one day – ironically on the least distracting of days. There’s been a fair few days where writing has been last minute.
I should offer a word on quality, or lack thereof – the challenge is to write, not edit. The only editing I’m doing is to trim the word count to fit in my maximum of one thousand words. It’s not always pretty, but it’s creative.

Well kind of creative – there’s probably twenty ways to armageddon the world. Pleasantly, sometimes bitter sweetly, occasionally tragically it’s been a lot more than destroying the world, I like to think I’ve got some genuine drama, emotion, and fantasy in there.

I’m going to be making a list of goals – stories and styles that are off the beaten track for me. Things I might not be good at, but are a stretch.

I’m also going to launch a separate but related challenge to edit two stories a week. Two of the Daily Flash Fiction Challenge stories, just seem spelling, grammar, flow editing, maybe do some rewrite to clarify what I intended. Otherwise the main rules of the Daily Flash Fiction Challenge, 500 to 1,000 words, a self contained story, not just a series of chapters.

Anyway the upshot is I’m writing and enjoying it. Which puts me in a good place.

Here’s to writing.

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 42: A Family Tradition

This is the 42nd in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

A Family Tradition, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 12th January 2012

Word count: 725

Theme: family, brother, father, fight, challenge, nobility, honour, distinguish, responsibility

The story:

“It is time, sire,” the page said dropping to one knee to address the king who had stoicly been sat in his throne for three days without rest waiting for this moment.

The king nodded, and broke his vigil to stand, “Fetch my bread, and fetch me wine, then bring my weapons and my armour,” he commanded. The bread and wine were brought first, he ripped a chunk of bread off and dipped it in the wine. He sucked on the wetted bread chunk until all that was left was the crust. “Take the rest, give it someone more deserving, and more in need than I,” he commanded.

Next came the armour, it took three men to carry the armour, and two to carry the sword, a sixth man carried the large daggers. The king was a giant of a man, compared with the people of his kingdom, he was easily a foot taller than their tall men, and he was big and broad. The kingdom respected strength, and they respected their foreign born king for his, and over the years they had learn to respect his wisdom too, he had brought them peace, and prosperity until recently.

The first reports of trouble had been heralded two weeks ago, the word coming from the east was that giants were attacking. The king knew otherwise, and as the reports came closer, he dispatched his army to clear the way, but not to attack. Some had ignored orders to their peril.

As the king strapped on his sword, having put his armour and daggers in place first, he flexed. The old armour was masterfully made, a gift from another king. The leather beneath the panels and studs creaked as they were forced to make way for the still taut muscles of the king.

“I am ready,” the king said to himself quietly.

“Sorry, sire?” his page asked.

“Nothing,” the king said, and then added, “Clear out all of you. Make sure the castle is empty.”

“In the absence of your guard, we will stand and defend you sire,” the page said, the sword and armour bearers did not seem so certain.

“This is not a fight for the kingdom, this is personal,” the king said, “I would not have my people die in my stead.”

Continue reading

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 25: The Fisherman’s Son

This is the 25th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

The Fisherman’s Son, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 26th December 2012

Word count: 876

Theme: father and son, bonding, learning the ropes, the paths of our fathers, sci fi, civilian sci fi

The story:

“Okay, let’s just fix that right there, shall we?” the captain said with fatherly tenderness.

Jack just looked at him, he was eight but didn’t say much. This was the first time his father had taken him out on his old boat.

“Fix that line!” the Captain shouted down to the deck. Jack looked out over the railing, down below men scattered around fixing cables in place.

“All set for star drive, Captain,” the first mate said.

“Course set?” Captain asked his first mate.

“Alpha Centauri, on the slow route,” the first mate confirmed.

“The word is go,” the captain said, then turned to his son, “Okay I want you to hold on to this handle, it’s going to be a bumpy, and it’s always scary the first time you go to star drive.”

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The Christmas Fic – Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 24: Santa’s Lost sock

This is the 24th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Santa’s Lost Sock, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 25th December 2012

Word count: 956

Theme: Christmas, children, wonder, adventure, santa claus

The story:

It was the night before Christmas, well you know the drill. Jolly Old Saint Nick was doing his international rounds, even with the special stop watch that let him stop time, every year it got harder and harder. Santa though never gave in, he would be doing this until the end of time.

He was currently flying Algeria, stopping at every home on his list, gaining entry by a multitude of means, but ideally through the chimney if one was present. He was the ultimate traditionalist after all, and the magic dust allowed him to squeeze down a chimney easily.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 23: Never Stop Moving

This is the 23rd in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Never Stop Running, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 24th December 2012

Word count: 684

Theme: drama, challenge, focus, determination, super human feat

The story:

“Oppa Gangham Style! Oppa Gangham Style!” Gary hated that ring tone, Susan who sat opposite him in the office thought it was hilarious to mess with his phone when he was away from his desk.

“Hello, Gary speaking,” he said cutting off that awful ring tone.

A few moments went by, everyone in the office was watching.

“Shit! Now?” another pause, “I’m on my way.”

“Go time, boss?” Susan asked as Gary slammed his phone in his coat pocket, then put the cost in.

“Yeah, I gotta go. Tell Julia for me,” Gary said, not waiting for confirmation before he flew out the door.

He got to the side of the small office, only to find his car clamped.

Continue reading

My Daily Challenge for 2013

Okay, so now NaNoWriMo is over for another year, I have to face up to something. I’m not really writing at any other time of year, which is a very bad habit. So, I’ve had this cunning plan of copying someone else sort. There’s a member of NaNoYorks called LittleSparks, who is writing 750 words a day, and has done so for the past 340 days consecutively.

This, I find incredibly impressive, and so I’m going to copy, kind of.

What I’m going to do though is try and do a single story every day for a year. Including right through NaNoWriMo, and the two Camp NaNoWriMo’s that precede it. Completely separate from any other word count scores I should add.

Then, I’ll post them here, after a little bit of editing.

It’s an act of creativity, perseverance, and timing.

It doesn’t matter where I do it, or how I do it, it just has to be done everyday, no catchups, no getting ahead. Each one has to be greater than 500 words, but less than or equal to 1,000 words. It doesn’t have to be super original, in fact I doubt I could do 365 short stories and be truly unique with even a handful of them, so there’ll be cliches, and things might seem familiar on occaision. They will hwoever be my words, and my idea at the time of writing.

What else? Oh yes, to achieve this awesome goal, I’m going to use prompts. Anything from a random photograph, conversation, and yes my much trusted and used StoryCubes. Where possible, I will try and include the prompt, if someone feels they can do better, who am I to stand in their way?

This is running from today (2nd December 2012), until the 1st December 2013

Anyway, I’ve set up a category for my daily challenge, let’s see if on 2nd December next year I can look back and count 365 seperate posts in there.

In the meantime, a post is coming up with my first offering.

Also, if you want to find out a bit more about Flash Fiction (i.e. very short, self contained stories), there’s a wikipedia page to explain here, and here you can go read countless examples of the art form.

 

Ta ra folks.

NaNoWriMo 2012 – a long awaited update

Usually during November I post every few days about my NaNoWriMo progress, that is until I crash and burn and end up riding the fail train until the end of the month, (though I did win last year). This year has been different, oh yes, on both accounts.

First of all I’ve failed to get round to inane blog posts about my progress until now, (now into the final week). Secondly, for the second year running, I missed the connection to the fail train and gained my win early. In fact at ten days, I was on the success train four days earlier than last year. That’s right, choo choo, I’m a winner again!

Okay, a grown man putting “Choo choo” in that statement may not sound like a winner, but it felt good, and so did winning.

This of course isn’t about rubbing all your noses in my success, (not entirely anyway), it’s about how I succeeded, and what I’m currently up to, (and no its not running round city centre bollock naked going running up to people before going shouting “Choo choo” in their faces – that behaviour gets you sectioned, and NaNoWriMo does not qualify as mitigating circumstances).

So, my last NaNoWriMo post before this, that was actually published, (have a whole post on tools that I didn’t publish, which is good as I went a different way), was all about my final decision for project this year. I originally had decided on three possibilities, and had a whole scientifically inaccurate way for deciding which I would go with.

Then October hit, and the Road to NaNoWriMo was in full swing, and I decided I didn’t want to do it. All that planning won’t go to waste, but it’s not being used right now. Instead I had a grand plan for revolution, with a Tyrant in Downing Street. I’m sure you can see the appeal of this given the times we live, and are likely to be living in in the future.  It’s tough, it’s exciting, and it’s political. What more can a guy ask for in a novel?

So with the planning session for the West Yorkshire chapter of NaNoWriMo, I plotted out my novel, sorted out my main character and time a line leading up to the main events. Then November the 1st at 2:30am (I napped longer than I expected), I got to work on the ambitious story I had in mind.

Another reason for choosing this particular story was I did it as a history book, narrated by a single voice, but telling many of stories of the life and times of said tyrant.  It meant I didn’t necessarily have to care about continuity, writing in the right order and what not, it’s going to be easy to chop and change in editing. Whole sections can be lifted and moved, or indeed just removed without impacting everywhere. It was quite liberating, so much so with a big first day, and a huge Saturday I was well on my way. I was hoping for a Wednesday night finish, (50k in 7 days, epic), however NaNo crud hit early this year and it threw me off my game somewhat in the first Monday and Tuesday of the competition. It was a distraction I could ill afford for the 7 day 50k. So, I didn’t do it. That said, it didn’t stop me, I carried on when I was better, and won on day 10. 5k a day average? I can live with that.

So November 10th was a glorious day, since I won. Unfortunately for my 100k plans, the story lost its traction after that. I’ve stopped it at 52k, and moved onto a new novel, with the aim of doing a second novel in 10 days. So far I’m behind after losing two days to the curse of technology, (my laptop by loathsome ransom ware).  The second novel got me to 100k in eleven days, and I completed the 50k for that particular novel on fourteen days.

Below you can see a chart of my word counts, per day, up until today. I did my best, but I was no where near consistent. (click the image to see the chart in full size).

From Word Counts

Neither is finished, but both need a bit of extra planning to tie it all together and finish off. So I’m calling December finishing month. There’ll be three to do, as tomorrow I’m starting another story. This one will be short, about 25k, just to finish off the last week. I’m not worried if I don’t hit 25k, it’s just a bit of fun.

The plot is entirely driven by StoryCubes, (see below for the selection in question). No idea how it’ll work out, and I’ll probably need more StoryCubes at various points to pad out the plot.

From Story Preparation

I have a whole post in mind as to how much StoryCubes helped me, and how I used them, and the fun. So I won’t share my interpretations just yet. I think though I’m going to do a StoryCube story once a month, just for fun.

It’s early yet, but I’d hate to forget, so here are the obligatory thank you messages.

Thank you to:

  • NaNoWriMo for hosting and organisation the month.
  • The Yorkshire chapter of NaNoWriMo for being such a lovely encouraging forum
  • #NaNoYorks chat room for its many word counts, and encouragements, and putting up with my plot talks, and occasional boasting.

In particular, I’d like to thank (in no specific order):

  • Sparkie, for whom I was desperately trying to race, but out paces me for writing with worrying ease – even hundreds of miles away in her new home.
  • Kerantli, for secretly being the organised and responsible one, and prodding me when I needed to stuff.
  • Rokk, for talks about Bond and plots.
  • BoredRobots, for being the foil to my personal story

A further mention goes to:

  • My colleagues at work that have put up with me talking about things they have not a single care about.
  • My mum for encouraging me, and my dad for taking an interest in the plot.

So yeah, plenty of thanks, and I’ve missed a lot of people out. Some people don’t even realise they’re helping, but they have. I could never have made it through NaNoWriMo these past couple of years without the care and support of all the other WriMo’ers I’ve encountered.

I’m stood here on this podium in tears now… but no one’s handed me an award yet. Ah well.