Flash Fiction – Desperate Measures

Liam wasn’t sure how it had come to this. One minute he was hosting a meeting with his colleagues, the next he had his hands around Andy’s throat. It took precisely one second for him to vacate his chair, punch Andy to the floor and pin him down. Everyone agreed that this was unusual behaviour for Liam, he was always so calm.

            Of course he regretted it as soon as he did it, but he needed that money. He looked at his colleagues pleadingly, hoping they would step in and stop this lunacy but they just sat there, jaws hanging, staring. Liam tried to move his hands but it was as though they were stuck with glue. Any longer, Andy would be dead; he’d be a murderer, and then what? But Andy’s knee collided with Liam’s privates knocking him back and rolling onto the floor holding his crown jewels.

            Andy stood and straightened his tie, ‘what the hell’s wrong with you?’ he said, ‘I’m calling the police.’ He stormed out of the room.

            What was wrong with him? He knew he’d over-reacted, but desperate times call for desperate measures, before he could stop himself he shouted, ‘if I see you again, I’ll kill you.’

            He pulled himself up and swiped his hand across his forehead and looked up to find a whole audience had entered the room while he’d been possessed. And then another thought crossed his mind; witnesses. ‘Fuck,’ is all he said.

            The crowd parted as his director approached. ‘It’s probably best if you go home.’

            Liam took a slow walk of shame out of the door. The cold air hit him like a slap in the face. He felt the first drops of rain that would soon be a storm. He lifted his head to the sky and thought about what had just happened, the news there would be no bonus, the fight, the witnesses. Would Andy call the police? A worse thought crossed his mind; he had to tell his wife that the money was gone.

He made his way home.  

The Time Has Come…

How long ago did you finish your first draft, a month, six months, a year? It’s taken me almost a year and a half since writing the first draft of my book Never Too Late to conjure up the courage to edit it. I’ve always been fine editing short stories, even other people’s novels but I couldn’t face my own. But now the time certainly has come. This year I’m making good progress on moving my manuscript on. But how? I realised I’d been complicating things by trying to fix everything at once. I’ve now broken down the task into small steps and am ticking them off one by one. If you’re struggling with where to start your edits, you can follow this structure too.

Index Cards

If you haven’t done so already, get yourself a pack of index cards, or if you’re more inclined to use technology you can do the same thing on websites such as Scrivener and Trello.

On each index card, write down what happens at the beginning middle and end of each of your chapters. This will allow you to view your whole manuscript at a glance, like this:

Now it’s time to look at which of your chapters move the story along. If a chapter doesn’t do this, then that card can probably be removed. Keep doing this for all of your cards but don’t be alarmed if you seem to have cut your pile in half, like this:

You’ll replace the gaps with new scenes that do make a difference to the plot.

At this stage I’d recommend labelling all the cards that are essential to your story, the Big Moments with BM01, BM02 etc. Providing you know your beginning an end all you need to do then is add the scenes that will get you from A to B, connect the dots that lead up to each of your big moments.

If like me you wrote your first draft without any planning what-so-ever (a ‘pantser’), then this is where I’d recommend going back and finishing your research. It will be much easier to add scenes to your manuscript when you know the finer details.

This is as far as I’ve got with my first edit, I will let you know the next steps as soon as I’ve figured them out so do check back for further updates.

For now I think we all have enough to be getting on with!

Happy Editing

Writer’s Fog

I call it writer’s fog because writer’s block suggests there’s no way out, but fog clears. So this week I thought I’d share some cool resources that could help you navigate your way through the fog until you’re seeing clearly again.

IF you want to find out more once you’ve read about them, click on the links in the headings to find them on Amazon.

The Idea Generators

The Writer’s Toolbox

If you’re starting from scratch, I can highly recommend this super cool Writer’s Toolbox. It includes, 60 exercise sticks; first sentences, Non sequiturs and last straws that are sure to get your story off the ground. You also get 60 creative description cards and four spinner pallets to inspire your plot twists. You even get a 64-page booklet filled with exercises and instructions that focus on a ‘right brain’ approach to writing. Honestly, you won’t be short of ideas with this kit.

Amazing Story Generator

This is such a cool little folder of creativity. A flip book that allows you to randomly mix and match three different to elements to generate a unique story idea. I got a cool little story idea out of this that I ended up using as one of my assignments on my Creative Writing Masters degree. The possibilities really are endless.

500 Mystery Murder Scenes For Writer’s

This book is packed with hundreds of starter murder mystery premises, perfect for helping you brainstorm new stories, novels, screenplays and scripts. You’ll get something that looks like this:

Murder Scene

Where: The victim was found in a cage

How: Attacked by a pet ape

Who: An advertising executive with a dark past

Detail: All the witnesses have something to hide

Not only do you get 500 scenes to choose from, the book includes its own Murder Scene Generator at the back of the book that allows you to create thousands of different murder scenes and story ideas. All you have to do is randomly combine four to five different elements to generate a unique murder scene. What are you waiting for?

Work Books

Ready Set Novel!

Ready, Set, Novel! is great if you already have the seed of an idea. It’s filled with amazing prompts and activities that really dig deep into your characters, settings and plots. This workbook will help you turn your kernel of an idea into a true masterpiece.

642 Things To Write About

642 Things To Write About is awesome as it gives you the opportunity to stretch your imagination with witty and outrageous writing prompts, from ‘your favourite moment in film’, to ‘choose how you will die’. There’s plenty of space for you to write and it’s sure to get your juices flowing. From beginners to seasoned writers, you’re sure to have a lot of fun with this book.

Outlining Your Novel Workbook

The Outlining Your Novel Workbook includes step-by-step exercises for planning your best book. It’s a place for discovering your characters, organising scenes, brainstorming premise and plot ideas and much more. Get this this book and you’ll feel in full control of your novel.

It’s actually written as a workbook to accompany the equally useful book Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland, but it also works really well as a stand alone workbook.

I hope you find these resources useful and inspiring, I find them very helpful when I’m in the Writers Fog. Do you have any other writers resources that you find useful? I’d love to hear about them; please tell me about them in a comment below, or tweet me @StephLottWriter.

Flash Fiction – Broken

‘What are you arguing about?’ asked Lilly. She’d noticed it a lot lately. One minute they were a happy family, and then it seemed her parents didn’t like each other anymore.

            ‘We’re not arguing,’ her father had said. He pulled her in for a cuddle. Lilly loved cuddles with her dad; it was warm and cosy, her safe space. It never usually lasted this long though. When he released her he held her hands and looked into her eyes, Lilly wondered if he was starting a staring contest. ‘I love you, Lilly, don’t ever forget that.’

            Lilly giggled, ‘I know, you tell me everyday, Daddy.’

            She let go of his hands and ignoring her mother, she ran out to the garden. Unlike the atmosphere inside, the garden welcomed her; the flowers smiled, the trees waved, the insects kept her company. Outside, she felt wanted.

She sat cross legged on the grass and hummed a tune while she busied herself making daisy chains. For a moment the only sounds were the breeze and a little blackbird calling out for some attention. Then she heard her mother shout, making Lilly jump.

            ‘If you’re going to leave then go, we don’t need you, me and Lilly will be fine without you.’

            Leave? Lilly didn’t understand. Her mother was wrong, Lilly wouldn’t be fine without him, she needed him. She left her daisy chain and marched up the garden path, she had to make them see. A door slammed and she knew it was too late. Her walk turned into a sprint and then words came out of her mouth that she hadn’t planned on saying, ‘Daddy,’ she called as she entered the house, ‘don’t go. Mummy’s wrong, I do need you Daddy.’ But he had gone.

Tears escaped from her eyes and she turned to her mother for comfort, but her mother had none to offer. She was sat at the table with an opened bottle of wine. Lilly recognised it as the drink that made her parents happy. She’d never seen them drink it at breakfast though. Her mother picked up the glass and Lilly said, ‘I hope you feel better after that, Mummy.’ Her mother looked at her as she pressed the glass to her lips.