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(Fark Fiction Anthology)   "There are moments which are made up of too much stuff for them to be lived at the time they occur." ― John le Carré. This is your Fark writer's thread, full of stuff edition   (farkfiction.net) divider line
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494 clicks; posted to Main » and Discussion » on 06 Jul 2022 at 6:45 PM (5 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2022-07-06 6:12:56 PM  
One of the themes that we keep seeing in these 'How to write like famous writer X' threads is the idea that it helps to have lived an interesting life in order to write about interesting things. "In order to write about life first you must live it," is a famous Hemingway quote in the same vein. Many other writers did things that seem crazy now: Jack London was variously an adventurer and gold prospector. Kurt Vonnegut survived the firebombing of Dresden by hiding in a meat locker. Stephen King worked in a laundromat and was run over by a van. Okay, maybe that's not exactly adventurous, but he still worked both of those experiences into his writing.

David John Moore Cornwell, who wrote under the 'John le Carré' pen name, had an interesting family life, where his father was an associate of the notorious Kray twins and was jailed for insurance fraud. Instead of following in those footsteps, he ended up working for MI5 and MI6, spying on potential Soviet agents, and had his career in British Intelligence ended by Kim Philby's treason and defection.

As a writer, he tapped into those experiences in his hugely successful series of espionage and thriller novels. The rest of us may never have to meet with a spy in the middle of the night or service a dead-drop while being tailed by the KGB, but luckily for us, he still has some valid tips for writers.

Make the verb do the work. Don't rely on descriptions or adjectives to describe what's going on.
Keep a travel notebook. Anything that helps you remember those experiences helps you write about them.
Start your story as "late" as possible. Don't delay getting to the action, start there.
Avoid "fuzzy endings." Even a morally ambiguous spy novel needs to have a logical conclusion so readers feel satisfied.
Start writing by 7:30 a.m. That may be early as hell, but the important thing is to get started and keep working. He wrote before work and never let himself have an excuse for not writing. I suppose if you have to keep tabs on enemy spies, getting up early is part of the job!

I'll admit I haven't been a spymaster, a con man, or been run over by a van, but I've been some weird places and done some strange things so maybe these tips will help.

Just not the 'Start by 7:30' one, yeesh.

Question of the week

What life experiences have you drawn on in your writing?
 
2022-07-06 6:13:20 PM  
Fark Fiction Anthology Update!

It's now July, so that means there's just under one month left to get your submissions in for this year's anothology!


We're looking for short, less than 10,000 word fiction submissions in the following genres:

Fantasy!
Science Fiction!
Humor!
Horror!
Suspense/mystery/thriller!


(And if you have a great story that doesn't fit into any of those, send it in any way! We'll find a way to make it work!)

Note: We haven't seen enough Suspense, mystery, or thriller submissions yet, so get those spy novels and detective stories in! I've submitted a SF/horror entry for this year, but I'm thinking about going back and writing a mystery just to make sure we have enough!

Submissions will be open until July 31st, so get them in to us!

The 2022 Fark Fiction Anthology Submissions Page
 
2022-07-06 6:37:23 PM  
I started writing a book on modern politics about how it all started going to sh*t with the Lewinsky blowjob and the contract for America how the Republicans were pissed Perot stole their presidency.,, I made it about 4 pages before I started punching my screen in anger.

Maybe I should try fiction.
 
2022-07-06 6:59:05 PM  
I can't seem to start at 7:30 am (but I used to) but after months of not doing it, I'm writing, because the deadline looms. Writing fiction is like a puzzle to me: I get an idea, get going on it and sooner or later I figure out the ending. Then I usually have to go back and change things so the ending works. Have a plot all mapped out at the beginning? Nuts. Life isn't like that. But in fiction you can go back and fix it.
 
2022-07-06 7:02:07 PM  
My high school teacher told me never to use the word stuff.
Was this a Sonic fast food commercial? I can't remember because the commercial lasted about as long as a fart in the wind.
 
2022-07-06 7:19:13 PM  

NewportBarGuy: I started writing a book on modern politics about how it all started going to sh*t with the Lewinsky blowjob and the contract for America how the Republicans were pissed Perot stole their presidency.,, I made it about 4 pages before I started punching my screen in anger.

Maybe I should try fiction.


Or try punching Republicans in anger?

jk
maybe not, but that's not writing advice, just something to make you feel better.
I do say that you've identified the correct window of "the beginning of the end"

Perhaps satire, something in the vein of Philip Roth's Our Gang?
 
2022-07-06 7:27:12 PM  
"I have actually been run over in a van, sorta funny story, of course meaning no lasting damage. I kind of ran over myself, something I found helpful was to avoid the tires, and keep your head down, helps.  And probably don't work on the transmission linkage with the motor running.  "Would of looked good on you-tube though because I had to get out from under the vehicle and then chase it down.

I think I invented a new computer virus for the book I'm writing on. I'm calling it the red flag program. In the book the bad guys want the gambling program of a programmer? The program he will give him is back loaded to trigger law enforcement agencies by using the code words they search for. Like when the FBI busts a group of terrorists they say they found red flags, so they investigate. In the old days they used to snoop for words about drugs. After 911 they use it to find terrorists. There was a story about a guy searching for a pressure cooker who got a visit from homeland security after a bombing that they used a pressure cooker as part of the bomb. The virus will send out all the words that they look for. Mainly the FBI IRS and DOJ.  The plan is get as many law agencies as possible watching this guy. And the bad guys too busy dodging the law to bother with the programmer or his friends.

To save the programmers life I though about having him wearing a wire, then going witness protection. I also had thoughts about having him hire somebody to kill the gangsters. But it is a lot darker than the rest of the story.
 
2022-07-06 7:30:28 PM  

hammettman: NewportBarGuy: I started writing a book on modern politics about how it all started going to sh*t with the Lewinsky blowjob and the contract for America how the Republicans were pissed Perot stole their presidency.,, I made it about 4 pages before I started punching my screen in anger.

Maybe I should try fiction.

Or try punching Republicans in anger?

jk
maybe not, but that's not writing advice, just something to make you feel better.
I do say that you've identified the correct window of "the beginning of the end"

Perhaps satire, something in the vein of Philip Roth's Our Gang?


Oh!!! Let me read that and see where it takes me. Thank you!
 
2022-07-06 7:45:34 PM  
Urgh.

I've eight stories in the works. For some reason, I'm having a lot more trouble completing any of them this year before the anthology deadline. I will submit something- hopefully something interesting and/or memorable- but I might have to take some time off work to get it done.

I hate it when consensus reality gets in the way of getting any writing done.
 
2022-07-06 7:46:48 PM  

starlost: My high school teacher told me never to use the word stuff.


Mine, too. (Also, "thing.") I pointed out that Shakespeare wrote "We are such stuff as dreams are made on."
She said "You're not Shakespeare."

She was right, in a pedagogic way. I knew that a good writer should be allowed to use every word available. She knew I had a long way to go to become a good writer. I still do.

By now I feel qualified to tell her to stuff that thing up her whatzits.
 
2022-07-06 7:54:11 PM  

mad cowboy: "I have actually been run over in a van, sorta funny story, of course meaning no lasting damage. I kind of ran over myself, something I found helpful was to avoid the tires, and keep your head down, helps.  And probably don't work on the transmission linkage with the motor running.  "Would of looked good on you-tube though because I had to get out from under the vehicle and then chase it down.

I think I invented a new computer virus for the book I'm writing on. I'm calling it the red flag program. In the book the bad guys want the gambling program of a programmer? The program he will give him is back loaded to trigger law enforcement agencies by using the code words they search for. Like when the FBI busts a group of terrorists they say they found red flags, so they investigate. In the old days they used to snoop for words about drugs. After 911 they use it to find terrorists. There was a story about a guy searching for a pressure cooker who got a visit from homeland security after a bombing that they used a pressure cooker as part of the bomb. The virus will send out all the words that they look for. Mainly the FBI IRS and DOJ.  The plan is get as many law agencies as possible watching this guy. And the bad guys too busy dodging the law to bother with the programmer or his friends.

To save the programmers life I though about having him wearing a wire, then going witness protection. I also had thoughts about having him hire somebody to kill the gangsters. But it is a lot darker than the rest of the story.


In lieu of having your programmer resort to violence to save himself, why not have the programmer use his programming skills to keep the Bad Guys at bay? There's a pretty good book called "The Fool's Run" which ends with the hacker protagonist and his hacker friends buying themselves safety from the Bad Guys by demonstrating they could literally destroy the Bad Guys' companies unless they were left alone. They did something similar to No Such Agency in one of the sequels.
 
2022-07-06 8:09:06 PM  
I find that writing really early before anyone else gets up helps me focus on what I want to achieve in that chapter. Otherwise I get caught up in doing work that will definitely earn me money (translating), and by the time I'm done, I'm usually too tired to get started and end up surfing the net to procrastinate.

I wish I could write a soy story like Le Carre though. I loved those when I was a kid.
 
2022-07-06 8:31:33 PM  

toraque: Fark Fiction Anthology Update!


This is a first draft for the Halloween thread. It's much shorter than "Danny Doesn't Live There Anymore." It's also based on real events, like "Danny." It's all true, up to the point where it isn't.

I welcome criticism, comments, suggestions, scorn, and praise. Let me know your mind, and I'll see what I can do before the deadline. (I don't like the title. It's a place-holder.)

=============

Captain Weird Versus the Un-Henge

I had a f*cked-up childhood, just like everyone else. It started in Oklahoma, and followed me to Montana. When we moved here, we lived in a motel for a month or so, then found an apartment, and finally a new house on the West side. Built to our specs. Typical middle-class neighborhood. Vinyl siding everywhere. RVs parked on the street, boats in driveways. The occasional pink flamingo.

I had one new friend when this story happened. He had friends that I eventually didn't like, but Phil and I were fast until we graduated from high school and fell out of touch. When I met Phil, he and his friend Rick were throwing grasshoppers into a huge spider web on a neighbor's garage. The spider would rush down and spin a cocoon around the grasshopper, and return to the center of the web. I joined in, fed the spider a few locusts, and that's how I met Phil. He won't have anything to do with the rest of this story. That spider, grass hopper thing was a clumsy attempt to set the mood.

I was 12, going on 13. My birthday is six days after Halloween, and Halloween was just a few days away. I told my mom that I thought I was getting too old to go trick-or-treating. She said

"If you can't go Trick-Or-Treating when you're 13..."

"Almost 13," I said.

"...almost 13, then what's the point of Halloween?"

I thought she made a good case, so I set about designing my last Halloween costume.

The most important accessory to my Captain Weird costume was the spring shoes. Spring shoes are metal shoes with springs between your foot and the ground. Someone who wanted me to sprain my ankles gave me spring shoes a couple of Christmases before, and damned if I didn't learn how to use them. They've probably gone the way of lawn darts by now. They're a terrible idea. I, however, was a terrible-idea enthusiast, so I mastered those class-action-suits-waiting-to-happen shoes. BOING. BOING. I got to where I could clear a good two or three feet in those ridiculous things.

The next most important part of Captain Weird was the costume. Capes are stupid, so no cape. We had been in Montana long enough to have purchased long underwear. (We went cross-country skiing for a year or so, and mutually decided "screw that.") On the chest of the top of the long johns, I painted an insignia of a W in a polygon that in no way resembled Superman's. I painted the same insignia on the front of a yellow hardhat I had, for some reason I've forgotten.  Long john bottoms, of course, but I wore my blue gym shorts over them, and went boinging down the street with my candy bucket in hand.

It was a pretty good Halloween haul. No one asked if I was too old to be panhandling for candy. Some people gave me extra candy because they liked the costume. I fell once or twice at first, but regained my skill with the spring shoes. Other kids were making their rounds. The usual: ghosts, witches, superheroes.

When I first moved to this neighborhood, I learned the layout on my bike. Phil would accompany me on his. I know I said he wouldn't come up again.  I lied. I shouldn't have done that, but it's too late now. Phil and I would ride our bikes through the alleys that ran between the streets. Unpaved roads without names, where the garbage trucks ran, where people could reach their garages. Some of the alleys had smaller alleys intersecting them, connecting the alleys to the streets. These smaller alleys are also known as driveways.

My neighborhood was still being developed, so some streets had no street lights. That was OK, I knew my way around. The other trick-or-treaters had mostly gone home, but I was having a great time. I headed down an alley, boinging away. It got a little too dark, so I cut down one of those secondary alleys to get back to civilization. About 100 feet ahead, I saw festive lights strung up in someone's back yard. Looks like a Halloween party.

As I approached, I realized I had no idea where I was. The houses were gone. I was in a clearing in a forest, ringed by crude monoliths the size of refrigerators. Not like Stonehenge. More like Stone Unhinged. The festive lights were fat candles on pikes, like tiki torches. As I got closer, I could see they were arranged according to some abnormal, forgotten geometry.

In the center of this travesty, you guessed it, a circle of people chanting stuff I've successfully forgotten. Do not ask me, do not f*cking ask me to recall what I heard. You don't want to know, and neither do I. Trust me on this. Those words can lead only to sorrow. Don't f*cking ask me.

What I haven't forgotten is what they were wearing: perverse mockeries of normal Halloween costumes you'd buy at Kmart. Casper the Ghost with a mortal head wound. I could see light coming through the hole in his head. Dracula with a stake through his chest, laughing and drinking blood that seeped through his chest hole into a grail. A witch with a mask that kept falling off, revealing a more hideous face underneath, cackling, cracking, seeping. Every time she put the mask back on, it looked more like her face underneath. That made her laugh even harder. The mask started to bleed and suppurate, and that's when I turned around on my spring shoes and started to boing right the Hell away from there. The clearing in the Un-Henge went silent. The candles flared.

The alley I had come down was nothing but darkness. Behind me, the rhubarb of those things in the Henge. As I boinged away, trying to break my personal best of maybe three feet on those stupid spring shoes, I saw that when I was in the air, it was the normal neighborhood. When I hit the ground, the Henge was back.

I crashed. Fell down. The candles were moving toward me. As I scrambled to right myself, ignore my twisted ankle, I heard--and when I say I heard it, I mean I felt it in my spine--

"He's too old. We have enough."

The candles faded. The neighborhood was back. I took off the spring shoes and limped home.

That was the last time I went trick-or-treating. I was too old for that sh*t. I had had enough.
 
2022-07-06 8:42:20 PM  

toraque: What life experiences have you drawn on in your writing?


Travel and adventures. I take photos frequently along the way that help me to start creating a story for my daily journal. I write during down times like waiting at an airport or other transport hub (keeps me occupied and keeps me from thinking "WTF is going on?") or downtime in the hotel or sitting in a bar at night. The photos were my main objective but I needed a description for the photos and one thing led to another and now I am writing short daily stories that are (mostly) true but often embellished. Sometimes completely. Other times not.
 
2022-07-06 8:46:59 PM  
In lieu of having your programmer resort to violence to save himself, why not have the programmer use his programming skills to keep the Bad Guys at bay? There's a pretty good book called "The Fool's Run" which ends with the hacker protagonist and his hacker friends buying themselves safety from the Bad Guys by demonstrating they could literally destroy the Bad Guys' companies unless they were left alone. They did something similar to No Such Agency ...


That is or was very close to the ending I have for it.  I've never read the Fools Run of course. I don't know if I should check it out or not. But if its a story about an A.I. that was designed to be a space probe but is converted into picking winners that gets them into trouble with gangsters I may have to rethink it.

Thanks for the info and help really.  I'm also sure my characters are relatively original. The red flag virus I was going to use twice and fail the second time., or have the bad guys hire their own  programmer who finds the infection before it can work. My original ending was the bad guys tell one of them he's going to kill the other friend if he don't give them the program.The program goes crazy on the bad guys taking the company hostage until the two are out of danger, to live happily ever after.

Is that too close?  I never really thought of if it was original or not.
 
2022-07-06 9:41:46 PM  
Hi all, in a previous writer thread I remarked that I had self published my fantasy novel and some people asked for links. This is that post, I promise after this post I will stop banging on about this!

Fark user imageView Full Size


While you can find it on most online retailers, I am indeed on Barnes and Noble, and Amazon! Paperback and ebooks available. So if you're interested in a queer AF fantasy novel that is best described as Knight's Tale x Witcher dipped in rainbow glitter, or D&D party of idiots led by dumpster fire attempt to kill a god, well, I got you!
 
2022-07-06 10:08:24 PM  

toraque: Question of the week

What life experiences have you drawn on in your writing?


Ooh, a perfect question for me!

I have been:

-A retail grunt.
-A rando fresh out of college running a tiny TV station in American Samoa.
-A cruise ship videographer in places as far away as SE Asia.
-Someone attempting to adjust to a "normal" life after all that, banality and all.
-A dumbstruck tourist doing a whirlwind solo tour of NYC.
-Fired with a bullshiat excuse of a cause.
-A bottom-level temporary assistant grunt for UPS.
-Someone who lived through covid and make the most out of doing so.

All of those have shown up in my writings somewhere. All of them but Samoa have shown up in my FFA stories. I'd have to work doubletime to figure out how to draw on Samoa in scifi without coming off as patronizing to the Samoans.
 
2022-07-06 10:14:43 PM  

toraque: What life experiences have you drawn on in your writing?


Generally speaking I say a character is fully formed when I can argue with them, however.

For my fantasy novel the King's Eight, Dungeons and Dragons as well as other tabletop RPGs was probably the most instructive. Given it's a fantasy setting applying real-world to it's a bit more squidgy.

My as yet unpublished spec fiction however? One of the characters passively emits radiation and everything about her is based on my real life job. The shield vest she has, the meter she wears, the fact that she has to take gut supplements, the fact that she's deadly if dehydrated. All that is my real life job (radiation safety) applied to a theoretical superpowered character. The lead character has a lot of weird knowledge but one of them is houses and architecture (at one point telling other good guys they're not destroying a building because of its historical value), and that's entirely from my mom. I grew up looking at houses with her, she loves design.
 
2022-07-06 10:23:36 PM  

Fireproof: toraque: Question of the week

What life experiences have you drawn on in your writing?

Ooh, a perfect question for me!

I have been:

-A retail grunt.
-A rando fresh out of college running a tiny TV station in American Samoa.
-A cruise ship videographer in places as far away as SE Asia.
-Someone attempting to adjust to a "normal" life after all that, banality and all.
-A dumbstruck tourist doing a whirlwind solo tour of NYC.
-Fired with a bullshiat excuse of a cause.
-A bottom-level temporary assistant grunt for UPS.
-Someone who lived through covid and make the most out of doing so.

All of those have shown up in my writings somewhere. All of them but Samoa have shown up in my FFA stories. I'd have to work doubletime to figure out how to draw on Samoa in scifi without coming off as patronizing to the Samoans.


For the curious:

-First story (Double-Spaced, 2017 FFA, about the aliens who love Necco Wafers attempting to "Coat the Planet"): Working in retail, NYC trip.
-Second story (Backspaced, 2018 FFA, about the time-traveling cruise ship): working on the cruise ship, being a retail grunt, partially on said cruise ship)
-Third story (Spaced Out!, 2019 FFA, about the interstellar delivery service): Getting fired with a bullshiat excuse, working on a cruise ship, and working for UPS.
-Fourth story (Personal Space, 2021 FFA):  Attempting to adjust to life after a couple of great adventures and making the most of life during covid.

Also remembered that romancing the now Mrs. Fireproof is a pretty prominent influence on the third and fourth stories.
 
2022-07-06 10:26:29 PM  
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2022-07-06 10:37:44 PM  
I heartily recommend Rudyard Kipling to writers. Particularly after he left the Plain Tails of the Hills stuff behind.

As WH Auden wrote:

Pardoned Kipling and Claudel
Pardoned them for writing well.
 
2022-07-06 10:58:14 PM  
I'm with ya there. My father didn't instigate the use of the name 'Rick' in lieu of my real one because he liked its clipped masculine sound, hey, but because Larval Klez just would not quit with ol' mongoose-imitation games. The Jungle Book remains a favorite to this day and who can ever top Puck of Pook's Hill?

In fact, I think I'll forego the adventurous retellings - some of this shiat actually has been a little much, you know, and there are days when I despair of ever really explaining how it felt and looked much less properly writing any bits of it for the screen and I had thought to seek some advice on all that - but fark it. I'ma just smudge some sage, burn one of these excellent pre-rolls I accidentally smuggled in on the train from Seattle, put on a little music, listen to the surf a while ... and think about it.

I always write better in the mornings anyway. Office hours are important.

A Pict Song
 
2022-07-07 5:55:34 AM  

mad cowboy: That is or was very close to the ending I have for it.  I've never read the Fools Run of course. I don't know if I should check it out or not. But if its a story about an A.I. that was designed to be a space probe but is converted into picking winners that gets them into trouble with gangsters I may have to rethink it.

Thanks for the info and help really.  I'm also sure my characters are relatively original. The red flag virus I was going to use twice and fail the second time., or have the bad guys hire their own  programmer who finds the infection before it can work. My original ending was the bad guys tell one of them he's going to kill the other friend if he don't give them the program.The program goes crazy on the bad guys taking the company hostage until the two are out of danger, to live happily ever after.

Is that too close?  I never really thought of if it was original or not.


I like your described ending. Don't worry about being close to Fool's Run (or any other work, really). There's only a limited number of McGuffins available for the genre you're writing, so most such stories are going to have modest similarities. The only major similarities to your work are the existence of criminals, computers, and double-crosses.

Your described story isn't particularly close to Fool's Run. Fool's Run is about a professional thief, artist, and part-time hacker who uses Tarot to clarify important decisions, but doesn't believe in Tarot (or any other magical thinking). He gets hired by a large defense corporation to sabotage a rival defense corporation, and the first 3/4 of the book is a dated but well-described cybercrime operation against a large company. The rest of the book is the hacker and surviving friends trying to avoid getting killed by their double-crossing employer.
 
2022-07-07 7:11:41 AM  

Wenchmaster: mad cowboy: That is or was very close to the ending I have for it.  I've never read the Fools Run of course. I don't know if I should check it out or not. But if its a story about an A.I. that was designed to be a space probe but is converted into picking winners that gets them into trouble with gangsters I may have to rethink it.

Thanks for the info and help really.  I'm also sure my characters are relatively original. The red flag virus I was going to use twice and fail the second time., or have the bad guys hire their own  programmer who finds the infection before it can work. My original ending was the bad guys tell one of them he's going to kill the other friend if he don't give them the program.The program goes crazy on the bad guys taking the company hostage until the two are out of danger, to live happily ever after.

Is that too close?  I never really thought of if it was original or not.

I like your described ending. Don't worry about being close to Fool's Run (or any other work, really). There's only a limited number of McGuffins available for the genre you're writing, so most such stories are going to have modest similarities. The only major similarities to your work are the existence of criminals, computers, and double-crosses.

Your described story isn't particularly close to Fool's Run. Fool's Run is about a professional thief, artist, and part-time hacker who uses Tarot to clarify important decisions, but doesn't believe in Tarot (or any other magical thinking). He gets hired by a large defense corporation to sabotage a rival defense corporation, and the first 3/4 of the book is a dated but well-described cybercrime operation against a large company. The rest of the book is the hacker and surviving friends trying to avoid getting killed by their double-crossing employer.


Thanks for replying. It's even closer now, one of my main characters mother was a professional fortune teller and he decides that he has the talent for it. I've used it as a tool to win him friends and build his confidence. Right now my villains are gangsters but I thought the main bad guys would be a company that operates the legal sports books. You also helped me with a plot twist, the gangsters want the program to use, while the company want her to be destroyed because she's wrecking the business.  I'm trying to keep it simple so I haven't figured out how the bad guys will interact or if they do. I should know that by now, but I have been having fun writing in the gangsters.  My main bad guy is older and like everyone his life didn't turn out like he planned. His beef is all the things he used to make money off are now legal and done by corporations. Like he is a loan shark but now they have payday loan companies in strip malls, and you can gamble online. I set the story in Chicago so there's even legal weed.

Thank you very much for replying, and helping, it was great having someone to bounce my ideas off.
 
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