Doctor Who and the Snowmen

Hello everyone,

did you miss me?

I most certainly missed writing for all of you! But let’s jump right in:

Doctor Who and the Snowmen was on this past Tuesday (because it was the annual Christmas special) and it was brilliant!

Here’s why:

1. Easily accessible by new watchers

What I’ve noticed in the show as a whole since Matt Smith took over as the new doctor is this: it’s more accessible. I watched a lot of Doctor Who when David Tennant played the time lord, and at times it was, to quote Sheldon Cooper, Doctor Why Bother. But since the 2010 revamp, my wife has even become a fan of the Doctor. And she usually finds every excuse not to watch science fiction. The Snowmen episode was like this as well, allowing new watchers to discover the magic of this decades spanning franchise. But wait! There’s more:

SPOILERS IF YOU CONTINUE

2. There was plenty of stuff for people who already watch Doctor Who

Like I said, I’ve been watching the Doctor for quite some time. I’ve been with him through the throws of alien Santas, weird disembodied parasitic creatures, freaky stone angels and tons of other monsters. So when the female lead in Snowmen was someone who played another character I was confused. And then at the end of the episode, of course, my confusion was turned into the next major overarching storyline. There were recurring characters and themes as well, adding to the familiarity of the Who universe. But the blending of accessibility and familiarity was great.

3. They kept me wanting more

I’ll admit that I wanted more of the Doctor long before this special. But this episode kept getting more convoluted by the second, and I loved it. The villain wasn’t even that nasty; but everything surrounding the story line of the episode leading up to the realization of something wrong with the time stream was genius. I can’t wait for this next season of Doctor Who and all of the adventures it will bring.

So what does this have to do with a writing blog?

I’m so glad you asked.

1. Be easily accessible

You want new readers right?

Give them something they can jump into. I write a lot of short stories, and one of my beta readers has told me that they love my voicing. I give them just enough world building so they can jump in, then it’s all about being involved in the story. If your readers spend all of their time in the story, and not trying to figure out what’s going on, they will have accessed the story well.

2. Let them know you wrote the story

My beta readers also tell me that they know when it’s me writing because of the voicing (mentioned above) and my dialogue driven stories. One of my readers likens my work to a comic book with no pictures.

I told him that I should get someone to draw pictures…

But in all seriousness, how do your readers know that it’s you? If you’re writing a series, can people jump from one story to the next and know who the main characters are? That’s one thing I really dig about Doctor Who, every episode is a separate story, but they all have a role in the overarching storyline.

Sidenote: that is also what I love about the Bible.

But what is going on in the universe(s) you have created to keep everyone on the same track?

3. Leave them wanting more

This should go without saying. Especially since we talk a lot about short stories here. We have to leave the reader wanting more stories.

Because what’s the point of writing stories if no one wants to read them?

Leave your readers wanting more. It will motivate you to write more and give you some free word of mouth marketing. Tell all your friends to…tell all their friends.

So your final assignment, if you haven’t already, is to go watch Doctor Who and the snowmen. And then go watch all the rest of Doctor Who.

It will take you forever.

And try putting some of this stuff into your writing!

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A World Premiere

My wonderful friend Kenneth Barker premiered his film ‘On the Shoulders of Giants’ last weekend!

Below are a few photos from the premiere, and a link to the Facebook photo stream.

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http://www.facebook.com/pages/On-The-Shoulders-of-Giants/383469958384829?sk=photos_stream

Please go check out the Facebook page and watch the movie here:

http://www.dynamoplayer.com/dplayer/embed?token=bxxzbnkew5ewmi

Expanding Short Story Horizons

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A few months ago a wrote a post on short stories. I stand by what I wrote, but I want to expand the horizons a little bit. I was reading a post earlier today that redefined word counts associated with fiction from my previous understanding. I was using the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America scale, but after reading this post at Live Hacked about ebook pricing, I like the scale referenced there better. I haven’t written about pricing or marketing or any of that, but the time is coming for me to become more directly involved in it. I have several stories very near ‘ready-to-be-published’ status and they fall into different categories. So let’s talk about different word counts and what they ‘mean’ for short fiction. I will use part of the scale I found on Live Hacked, which was taken from the Kindle Forum.

Flash Fiction <1000 words

Flash Fiction is a tricky thing. Mostly because we think that if something isn’t long it isn’t worth reading. I disagree. I’m a huge baseball fan, and I enjoy reading baseball cards. I’m also a giant nerd and play Magic: The Gathering. The card effects and quotes are fun to read. I enjoy looking up useless information on wikipedia.

So what if you write a story that takes up only a few pages?

I think it’s perfectly feasible. Plus, these stories would only take a few moments to write and edit. Spend a few weeks writing one of these stories every single day, and you will have a nice collection of stories nearing 14,000 words.

Short Short 1000 – 5000 words

These are my bread and butter. I enjoy writing between 2500 and 5000 word stories. Not too short and not too long. Room for chapters or scenes. Not as long as a novel. They take a week or two to write as opposed to months. Or if you’re really persistent you could knock one out in a few hours I’m sure. Editing is still fairly easy, plus people can beta-read them in one sitting. I find that the story can develop quite well in one of these ‘Short Shorts’ and not leave the reader wanting in quality.

But you should always leave them wanting more 🙂

Short Story 5000 – 10000 words

I just finished writing one of these, and it was quite enjoyable. I clocked in right around 8000 words, but it took me a little while to write it. Because there’s more room for character and plot development these take up more planning time. For instance, the story I wrote has four true acts, something that doesn’t quite develop in the shorter categories. With the longer word count, the story draws you in and feels longer than it actually is. What this does is attach your readers to the characters, and perhaps they will want a series of stories instead of just a one shot.

Another note is that this is the range of most ‘traditional’ Sci Fi short fiction. Philip K. Dick and Isaac  Asimov are a couple of writers who were around this word count with their stories.

Well there we have it. A new classification system for short fiction that fits better than 0-7500 words. I hope this is helpful and ignites some new story ideas in your head that make it to paper. What are your thoughts on these divisions? Let me know, and tell me what you’re working on.

A Few Updates

I’m in the editing stage with some of my short stories right now. I’ve been designing covers, having beta readers look over manuscripts, and reading through myself to find errors and other things that could be changed. And this is all on top of my other two jobs.

It’s very taxing.

But I don’t have the funds for a professional editor right now, so I’ll rely on my friend with an English degree who is working on his Master’s.

Yet I still have the urge to write. I already started writing another story and hope to finish it sometime within the next month. So here’s what’s going to happen at Silly Robots for the next few weeks:

I am still trying to write weekly posts. I hope to have a few articles on boring plots and influences on science fiction coming in the near future. There will also be a guest post by my friend and fellow writer Grant Barnes on the question, “What if..?”

I will be releasing three of my short stories as singles and a collection on Amazon either right before Christmas or right after the New Year (depending on the editing mentioned above) totaling over 100 pages of short story!

Very exciting stuff.

I have added a new page to the site regarding guest posting. If you would like to guest post, click on the guest post menu option and follow the instructions. I won’t promise that everyone will get their post put up, but everyone will get a look.

How are your projects going? I would love to hear about them. You can email me at authorwillflora@gmail.com for reviewing, beta reading and the like. [note: I am NOT an editor. Please do not ask me to edit your writing.]

Keep writing everyone, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

BONUS!!

Here are a couple of the short story covers I have been working on. Enjoy!

West of the city cover 4

Zefron Cover 1