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Posts Tagged ‘free story

Back when I was writing my many stories in the Chuck fanfiction realm, I often thought of it as great practice for any future writing I would end up doing. Having already written St.Martin’s Moon at that point, I knew that there were certain types of writing which I was not very good at, such as mystery, with its focus on pacing and plotting, and horror, with its focus on pacing and setting/ambiance. Chuck was a great mixture of light and dark, romance and comedy combined with spy action and some darker drama. My own strengths were in the romance and comedy areas, I thought at the time, where my ability to write strong dialog and characters was most important. The slow and methodical pacing of a spy story, mixed with the occasional burst of action, was what I needed work on.

I was mainly thinking of my more normal stories when I thought this, such as the stories of my Nine2five series, in which I rewrote the last three seasons of Chuck to be more of a piece with the first two. The third season, usually abbreviated as S3, was a very dramatic turn for the show, which the producers thought of as a Hero’s Journey type of story. Which may have been their vision, but if so, they were very poor story-tellers, since the first two seasons weren’t so strong on the Hero’s Journey and they were very strong on the romantic comedy spy adventure. (In fact, the show never did become a Hero’s Journey type of show, as nearly every step along that Journey was erased and forgotten by the end of the episode.) S4 and S5 were far worse, in terms of story-telling failures, so fixing the whole series was quite a lesson plan for a practicing writer. (I added the links to my stories in case anyone wants to read them, but they do assume you know the show, so a great deal of exposition is left out. You have been warned.)

That said, however, the story that is coming to my aid at this moment is not Nine2five but a much less ambitious and more experimental piece called ‘Not This Time‘. This story came between my more typical stories, such as ‘Hannah HISHE‘ and ‘Chuck vs the Epilog’, and Nine2five, and may have contributed to my development of the ideas for the latter story. What made ‘Not This Time’ (hold on while I save that title on my clipboard, just in case I need to write it a lot) experimental was the problem it was written to solve, as regards the finale.

In addition to the will-they-won’t-they trope that makes so many shows so painful to watch, the finale for some reason included the amnesia trope for one of the most popular characters, so all of the development that character had undergone over 5 years of show-time was completely erased. (The producers for some reason thought this was a good thing. I have my own theories on the matter, which I have written elsewhere.) As part of the ‘drama’ of the whole thing, she had occasional slight flashes of memory, to give us faithful viewers hope that our beloved character was not irretrievably lost, I guess.

‘Not This Time’ was written in that context. I wanted to do a story showing how the woman had been changed over the last five years and stayed changed, in spite of the loss of memory. I would do this by using several characters who were known to her before the show started, and show how her memories of those people had not changed, but her feelings about them had. I can’t say it was my most successful story, but it did take me to some very dark places, in addition to practicing different types of story, such as my first song-fic, which I don’t think I did quite right.

This is all coming out with my current novel, a story that is a compendium of stories being told about the main character, Tarkas, in the context of a real-time adventure that is slowly unfolding. The original idea was to have these stories told by Tarkas’ son Janosec, which they were, in the beginning. As the story went on, I found myself in a situation where Janosec had to go away for a bit, and I could either follow him and listen to a repeat of a story I’d already written, which I didn’t want to do, or find someone else to follow. Fortunately I’d already introduced such a fellow, so I followed him to a variety of places, where I was able to continue the story-telling motif, with different characters as the teller, sort of the inverse of the style I’d used in ‘Not This Time’. Rather than one person remembering several people, and seeing how she’d been changed, I had several people remembering one man, to show how he looked to their different perceptions.

It’s a very experimental idea for a novel, I think. Certainly if anyone trips across this post as they traverse the inter-web and can think of stories like this one, I’d love a heads-up about it.


I recently re-posted a story of mine on the site, called ‘When Ellie Found Out‘. I had posted it before, as a prequel episode to the first season of my series called nine2five, which I had originally posted as a series of standalone episodes. When I decided to gather all the chapters in one place, I decided to append them to WEFO rather than create a new file, which I now think was a mistake. The funny thing is, that even though it’s a reposted story, I’m still getting comments on it, from people who didn’t see it before, or who just like to comment. Some of those comments take the form of, “This is so much better than what they did on the show”, which is a comment I got fairly often.

What they did on the show (in this particular case) was separate the leads, i.e., take a romantically-involved pair and place them apart, either physically, emotionally, or both, so that their struggles to be reunited will fuel the story for as long as the storyteller can make it. (What I did in WEFO, which was prone to backstory and exposition, was tell about how they got married, so that no one would separate them.) As story-telling mechanisms go, separation of the leads has a lot to recommend it, otherwise they wouldn’t use it so often as a short-cut to ramp up the intensity of the drama, which is where the problems arise.

Tropes like this one, or others like ‘endangered children’, or any of a number of forms of ‘intolerant ideological fanaticism’, are like story drugs, artificial stimulants that keep a story moving but without any real story in them. They are, in effect, pure drama, with no other story elements to speak of. What ends up happening is what you’d normally expect to happen when someone takes stimulants without food, the story keeps going and going until one day it keels over dead. I watched the first episode of season 2 of Glee and was immediately repulsed by the blatant self-sabotage of all the lead characters, which they would no doubt spend the rest of the season trying to repair. The last episode of season 1 of Newsroom did it for me, with all sorts of romantic partners making all sorts of wrong decisions. Tom Clancy used to use them a lot, but at least in his stories they weren’t critical elements, so the stories didn’t die from them.

They aren’t always drugs, of course. If the separation of the leads or the endangerment of the child are built up to with proper character and story logic behind them, then they’re perfectly fine mechanisms. In the canon fiction I was revising, the leads were separated very blatantly and artificially, and the show suffered almost immediately as a result. Many addicts of the first two seasons stopped watching halfway though the first episode of the third, as I did with Glee. Worse, when the showrunners realized how much they’d botched things, they went too far in the other direction, creating a full season of feel-good episodes to counter the previous season of angsty episodes, a heady dose of too-little-too-late, in my opinion. (I eventually separated them in my story as well, but only after a season and a half of development, first his and then hers, and a plot twist that made the separation logical, necessary, and most important, temporary.)

It’s very important to be wary of tropes. They combine story-logic with storyteller logic, which is why they’re useful, but they should never be used in such a way that the the telling of the story trumps the story itself (unless that’s the point of the story, in which case have fun). In my opinion, authors should be invisible in their stories, while using a story drug to force it into a preferred path is as diametrically opposed to ‘invisible’ as it’s possible for an author to be.

Not This Time Chapter 4, a chuck fanfic – FanFiction.Net.

My first attempt at combining song lyrics with my story. I don’t think I did it the normal way, but then, when have I ever done anything the normal way?

We’ve all read them, those lines that speak in dread foreboding of grim and ghastly events to come. Lines like, “That’s funny, my watch stopped too”, or “What do mean all the lights are out?” When the phone lines are down you know something dire is in the wind.

Well, I don’t want you to write anything like that.

For every sure-fire spinetingler, there are a lot of wanna-be lines, not quite losers, definitely not winners. These are the lines that deserve their moment in the, umm, halogen headlight of fame.

Write a line that has the shape, the form, the structure of one of these classics, but without the content. Lines like, “That’s odd, there are no fire hydrants along this entire stretch of road”, or “Buy why would only one show be missing?” Perhaps “Bob, why would the kitchen smell like spinach when we had peas last night?” has occurred to you, but since I just used it, you can’t.

Prizes are as follows: The winner (chosen by me) will receive the entire corpus of the Author Guy oeuvre, yes, both short stories will be yours! That’s ‘Chasing His Own Tale’ and ‘Chasing His Own Tale 2: Struck By Inspiration’, for those of you who haven’t looked to the right yet.

For you non-winners out there, you will have the inestimable pleasure of reading all the entries to this little contest, which is prize enough for any sane man. They should be put into the comments, of course, but if you want you can email me instead at mvonkann2000ATyahooDOTcom, and be sure to put VPP+$TR_01 in the subject header so I’ll know that this is an entry into the Author Guy Vaguely Sinister Contest.

Yes, I just posted a freebie.

Even worse, it’s a fan fiction.  I know you’ve all come to see me as the ever calm, reasonable, rational, discusser of all things writer-licious, but I too have a darker side.  I am a fan of stories, as we all know, and I, like all of us I’m sure, sometimes cringe when I see a show or read a book and there is a scene that is just too too painfully bad.

Not bad as in poorly written, but bad as in unnecessarily unpleasant.  Or sometimes simply lacking in some way that I personally find unpleasant.  These are scenes that nag at me in what would otherwise be a perfectly acceptable book.  Yes, the world is grim and the story dark, but is it necessary for a bunch of kids to die horribly for no good reason?  (I have a particular button about children in danger; The scene in Battlestar Galactica where the little girl is killed put me off the entire series, and don’t get me started on GRRM’s Ice and Fire series.)  Yes, the people died heroically and nobly protecting their planet, but wouldn’t it be nice if there was some way to let them know that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain?

As an author I can use this discomfort to my advantage.  I come up with alternate storylines for these scenarios and flavor my own writing with them.  Sometimes this is just a trifle, a pleasant little side-note, but once in a while it can be something quite spectacular that affects my entire story.  Tarkas setting his own arm on fire (the cover art to A Warrior Made over there is a scene from the story) is the sort of traumatic event that resonates through a character’s entire life.

A fanfic is a bit more than that, a whole story all on its own, dependent (if it is) only on the reader’s knowledge of the story it’s a fanfic of.  Normally I don’t have the time or interest to write fanfics.  I don’t much like writing in other people’s universes, trying to use someone else’s rules.  I’ve had a lot of ideas for such stories, including a Star Trek novel, but I’d never write them.

So why did I write this one?

Well, first of all, I love the TV show Chuck, with its strong characters, and fun plots.  Second, the part of season three that featured Hannah ended particularly badly, IMHO, and it didn’t have to.  In some respects it seemed like they had more than they could conveniently fit into four episodes so they tried to compress it and it didn’t quite work.  I have problems like this myself.  Third, I had recently discovered a story type called a HISHE, for How It Should Have Ended.  Most of these stories are used to point out the flaws in a story, the bad logic or poor plotting, especially in movies.  I decided to write one for a different purpose.  I wrote a story that would give poor Hannah a happier ending than the one we were shown in the show.  It’s consistent with the show’s storyline but something they didn’t show.  I put it up on, but we’re trying to get it up elsewhere.

So anyway, here’s my story,.  Take it away.



Unbinding the Stone

A Warrior Made

A Warrior Made

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St. Martin’s Moon

St. Martin's Moon

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Chasing His Own Tale

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Struck By Inspiration

Struck By Inspiration

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Steampunk Santa

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Bite Deep

Christmas among the vampires!

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Cyber-pirates. Sort of.

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Off the Map

Reality TV...without the Reality!

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