Tag Archives: Warmth

Free Short Story Preview: The bullet from a Glock 17C.

It took 0.0039 seconds for the bullet from a Glock 17C to travel from its firing chamber to David’s skull and silence the world. It took David three weeks to realize that the silence was not complete.

First he heard the Music. Sometimes it was a flute solo, echoing in vast imaginary distances. Sometimes it was an orchestra, complete with the warmth of strings, sharp brass, and a full choir in eight-part harmony. Sometimes it was electric guitar in sweeping arpeggios and triumphant melody. Regardless of the instrument or theme, the Music was always hopeful. Real or imagined, David could have listened forever.

But there were other sounds. At first they were faint, hidden behind the Music. Gradually, David was able to distinguish them.

He expected the beeping of a heart monitor, remembered from television. Instead, he heard many loud hums, layered in subtle discord. These were punctuated by clunks of doors closing, the rapid clatter of typing in the next room, the measured step of hospital staff. Though it was unintelligible at first, David began to comprehend the most welcome sound of all:

Dialog.

“David, can you hear me?”

Yes.

“David, I love you.”

I love you too, Becky.

“Please come back to us, okay?”

I’m trying. God help me, I’m trying.

And then Becky would leave, gone to work or home to return the next day and say much the same thing. He liked it better when she explained things.

“The doctor says we should wait and see. There’s no reason to think you won’t recover.”

But there’s no reason to think I will, is there?

“Your chances of recovery decrease the longer this lasts, so wake up soon. Please? David?”

David ached to answer. It was worst when she cried, because he couldn’t reassure her, couldn’t hug her. All she wanted was for him to sit up and speak. But he couldn’t. He had no sense of his body at all besides the things he could hear.

Sometimes even the Music turned sad.

I can see it, but I can’t touch it.

I wasn’t simply trying to wallow in self-pity and defeat. (Though that’s fun, too.)

I’m genuinely frustrated. Because I can write.

Or to be more precise, I can articulate. Whether speaking or writing, even arbitrating between two opposed parties, I can clarify what is meant, distinguish the particulars of intricate concepts, et cetera.

How does that skill translate into becoming, through and through, a storyteller? How does one go from brickmason to architect?

Also, I’m a critic foremost. When my family went to see a movie, the first thing we’d do afterwards is pick it apart on the car ride home; love it or hate it. I was telling my buddy at work all the flaws in a particular arc of Battlestar Galactica, and he said, “Wow, I’m sorry you didn’t like it.”

Didn’t like it? Are you crazy? I loved it. But it still has gaping plot holes, continuity errors, and worse. So does Star Wars, and LOTR, and the Matrix.

But I cannot permit those imperfections to exist in my work. They must be purged with divine fire from on high.

I can identify even more subtle problems in my own work, like those mentioned in the last post. I really think Perfect Justice doesn’t work that well as a story because it’s very cold and dark without any warmth. How do I get the warmth and keep the story? I don’t know.

Woman’s Best Friend is a nice little campfire ghost story. But it has no depth. You’ll never describe it as a story that really made you think about the larger universe, examine your own life and goals. It doesn’t have that.

Fragile Gods is the worst for me right now. I can see the whole story unfolding in my head; epic battles, broken hearts, unexpected victories, the whole deal.

I can see it, but I can’t touch it. It’s ethereal, or maybe it’s just behind glass.

How do I shatter the glass?

Everything I write sucks.

you_suck_sadLet me try to express this as articulately as I possibly can:

AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Perfect Justice needs more warmth. Woman’s Best Friend needs more depth. New Magic needs more content. Second Chances needs a likable character. Manifest Destiny needs a reason for the reader to care.

Shadows of Prophecy needs real characters. Echoes of Prophecy needs a plot.

Fragile Gods needs a better outline.

And The God Disease just needs a better writer.