Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Way Over the Line

Way Over The Line is now available on Smashwords: Click here to check it out! You can download it to most (if not all) eReaders and phones with eReader apps. Smashwords has plenty of options. You can also read it right on your computer if you don't have any devices to read it on. It's only $1.99. It's geared towards kids ages 10-13, but I think even adults will enjoy it. It's a science fiction story with plenty of baseball, so if you enjoy either of those, give it a read. If you know any parents with kids who enjoy science fiction and/or baseball, let them know. And tell teachers about it, too; I'm sure they know some kids who would be interested in reading this story. I hope you give it a go and enjoy it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Writing Prompt #43

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as horror this week, but take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

Your child discovers a dead body while playing at the park.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Way Over the Line

On Wednesday I'll be publishing ebook versions of an upper middle grade novel (might be considered a younger young adult novel) called Way Over the Line. I have another blog set up for it with sample chapters available. As of right now, you can read the first eleven and a half chapters. By Tuesday, you'll be able to read the first fifteen chapters (roughly one-third of the book). I'd love for you to go check it out, see what you think, and pass along the link to anyone you think would be interested--especially teachers, parents, and, of course, kids! That link to sample chapters also has a description and the cover art. Enjoy reading! It'll be available on Smashwords and Amazon for the Kindle on Wednesday, December 1 (or very soon after).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How I Write My First Draft

Click here to view a list of my earlier writing posts

How I Write My First Draft

After my outline is set, I'm ready to get down to the nitty-gritty process of writing the first draft of the novel. I do this with pen and paper instead of on my computer's word processor. This is for a couple of reasons. First, I enjoy the process much more, and I find if I'm having fun, the words come out better (both in quality and quantity). Second, when I type out what I've written onto my computer, I use that step as a first pass-through in the revision process. I don't make any big changes, but I'm able to clean up sloppy wordings, punctuation, and grammar. This saves me a bit of time later when I'd rather be focusing on fixing the story.

The first draft process is basically nothing more than following my outline. I make sure to keep a notebook open next to me so I can jot down notes that will both help in later chapters as well as in the revision process. Mostly these notes are names I come up with while writing: secondary and other minor characters, places, things important to the story, etc. I also take notes on ideas I have which will improve the story overall. If I haven't yet come to that part, I'll add the notes to my outline after my writing session is done for that day. Sometimes I can simply jot the note down on the appropriate 3x5 card, while other times I'll need to redo a number of cards.

if I come up with changes to parts of the manuscript I've already written, I don't go back and fix it during the first draft stage. I'll simply jot down what needs to change and make those corrections/improvements in the revision process. In the meantime, I continue writing as if those changes have already been implemented. The most important thing in my mind is to get the first draft down on paper. As long as my notes tell me where I began writing as if the changes were in place, it's easy enough to both fix it later without worrying that the story won't work.

For the most part, that's it. As long as i did a good job in the outlining stage, the first draft should run smooth. Of course there are always days where the words flow better than others, but as long as I stick to my outline, I know I'll get through the first draft sooner rather than later. I also keep in mind that overall first drafts are terrible. Sure, on the whole they're good stories with many instances of sparkling writing, but they're also filled with sloppy wordings, cliches, and many other mistakes. That's fine, as I've learned to, for the most part, keep my inner editor at bay during this. I believe first drafts aren't meant for anyone but the author. I don't share my novel with anyone until well into the revision process, but more on that later.

And speaking of the revision process, I'll begin discussing what I do next week. Check back next Wednesday for that. Until then, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Writing Prompt #42

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

Your company puts a strange drug in the coffee.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

#FridayFlash--Grandpa's Final Moments

Grandpa's Final Moments
by Eric J. Krause

A cold breeze washed over him as he stood in the doorway. Since there were no open windows in the warm room, it could only be one thing. Paul didn't believe in ghosts, but that didn't mean he was pig-headed in his skepticism, either.

"Grandpa? Are you awake?"

No answer. Not that he expected one. He had to make sure before he called to Grandma. No tears came at the prospect of that, thank goodness. They would, he knew, but not yet. He needed to stay strong. The task of calling the family would fall on his shoulders. Neither Mom nor Aunt Jan would be up to the task. It was fine. He'd prepared for it. The family phone book lay open next to the old rotary phone, the one he'd always known. It seemed right he should use it and not the modern cordless in the kitchen.

He stepped over to the bed. Grandpa looked so peaceful, still lifelike. He reached down and patted his shoulder, more out of love than trying to wake him. Seemed silly to wake a dead man whose soul wasn't even in the room anymore.

"Wha? Frannie?"

Paul let out a scream and almost toppled over backwards. "G . . . Grandpa?"

"That you yelling, Paul? Did you see Frannie . . . uh . . . Grandma?"

Paul took a deep breath to steady his heartbeat. "She's in the other room, Grandpa. I think she's taking a nap." He let himself smile. "Sorry. I didn't realize you were sleeping. I thought . . ."

Grandpa wheezed in what had to be laughter. Paul had to lean in close to hear what he said next.

"She's not napping. She was just in here, telling me how much she loves me and how I'll be with her in a few minutes."

Grandpa paused, and Paul had to fight the urge to tell him he had been hallucinating. What harm would seeing Grandma one more time do him, even if it wasn't real?

"She also said this was best for everyone and for you all not to dwell on it." He struggled to say something else, but gave up and patted Paul's hand. He lay back, closed his eyes, and drifted off, this time not for a nap.

A tear trickled down Paul's cheek, but he held back any sobs. Grandpa was now at peace, no longer in any pain. And as far as he was concerned, he'd been with Grandma at the end.

Paul took a deep breath and stood up. Best not to delay. Grandma and the family needed to know.

As he reached the doorway, he looked back. If that cold breeze hadn't been Grandpa's escaping soul, what had it been? His stomach lurched and goose bumps exploded all over his body. No.

"Grandma?" She was a light sleeper, especially during the daylight hours. "Grandma?" he yelled again, more urgency behind it. She didn't answer, and he knew why. He sprinted down the hall to where she lay.

She stared at him from her chair, but there was no life behind those eyes. This time he couldn't hold back the sobs.

Contents Page for my How I Write posts

If you missed some of my posts on writing (or want to read them again), here they are. I'm not putting dates on them, but I will put them in order, oldest on top. I'll update this page each time I have a new article.


Writing Flash Fiction

Friday Flash

Novel Ideas

Novel Writing: Pre-First Draft Part 1

Initial Construction of Characters

Outlining a Novel--Pre-First Draft Part 2

Outlining a Novel--Pre-First Draft Part 3

Final Outline--Pre-First Draft Part 4

How I Write My First Draft

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Final Outline--Pre-First Draft Pt. 4

Now that I basically have the story outlined, it's almost time to begin the first draft. But not quite. I still have a few things I need to do before I'm comfortable starting. It's now time to construct my working outline.

My working outline consists of 3x5 cards. I write one scene per card. I usually copy the scene directly from my notebook, though I occasionally need to modify them. I believe the scene description should fit on one side of the card, so if it's too long, I've been too wordy with the outline (meaning it'll suck the life out of the draft) or I need to break the scene into two parts. There are always exceptions (for example, I might be wordy in the outline because I need the scene to play out in an exact way for continuity sake), but one side of a 3x5 card is usually a pretty good indicator for me.

After I finish, I lay out my 3x5 cards in order. I want to see them all at once, so it takes a big space--I lay them out on the floor or a card table because my writing desk is too small. I then read through them to see if I like how the story flows. The reason I like all the cards laying out in view rather than flipping through them while I read is because it's easier to rearrange scenes if they're all out and visible. Even if I'm happy with the order, I'll still play around with moving a few cards to see if something brilliant comes from an unexpected place.

Once the order is set, I'll renumber the cards if necessary and stack them in order. This time I do read through them one by one to make sure I'm happy with the final order (or that I didn't make a clerical error). I'll then make any last minute notes, and I'm ready to start!

Next week I'll talk about my first draft process. Until then, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing Prompt #41

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as science fiction this week, but take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

You travel 1000 years into the future.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


by Eric J. Krause

As Eureka rose out of a thick cloud bank over Laguna Beach, Katherine turned to her mentor, Fritz, and said, "Last chance to back out."

He looked at her with a smile. "We'll be immortal. Every historian will sing our praises until the end of time. Why would I want to back out?"

Katherine sighed. "I don't know. Maybe because it might be suicide."

Fritz laughed. "You've learned nothing from me. Everything worth grasping and keeping is going to have risk. That is what makes success so succulent."

"Then do it. I don't want to think about it anymore."

Fritz manipulated the controls on his console that had nothing to do with keeping Eureka afloat. "Send us up," he said. "As high as she can go."

Katherine pointed the nose of Eureka as straight up as she would go without fighting. She put all her faith in Fritz and his invention. Never had something like this been done on a blimp, especially one as big as Eureka. Or, if it had been done, it had ended in catastrophe and no one knew about it. She didn't want to think about that last part.

"We're close," Fritz said. "Just keep her steady and my machine will do the rest."

A minute later Eureka shuddered enough that Katherine thought the gondola would fall off, but it held. "Brace yourself," Fritz said, and Eureka shot forward into the sky with a force that would have knocked Katherine backwards into the wall had she not been strapped into her seat. The blue sky turned black, and mid-morning turned to night, as the stars popped up into her vision.

"It worked!" Fritz yelled. "We're in orbit!"

Katherine wasn't sure it was possible, but here they were. She could hear the life-support system kick in, and she looked above them and saw the helium-filled balloon looked no different than if they'd been flying over Angels Stadium. She didn't even want to guess what modifications Fritz had made.

"We'll be famous," Fritz mumbled, more to himself than to Katherine. "All the talk shows; all the news media; everyone."

She smiled at his enthusiasm and started to let it sweep over her, as well. She never wanted to chase fame, but now that it had caught her, she wouldn't wriggle from its grasp. The only thing to do now was to get back down. Long Beach was expecting them.

"What did you do to enable us to get back down through the atmosphere?" she asked him. "That seems the hardest feat."

His face dropped and froze. "Back down? I . . . I didn't think . . . it all went to getting us up and stable."

She laughed. "Really, Fritz, I'm curious."

He didn't answer, and his face remained that of a deer caught in headlights. She'd known him for over ten years and knew when he was kidding.

He was not.

New Writing for Children blog and twitter account

Hi everyone! I've decided to find new digs for my stories for kids (beginning reader and middle grade fiction). I want to be published under the name E.J. Krause instead of my full name, which I will continue to use for both my adult and young adult writing. I'd be thrilled if you'd go over and check out The Funtastic Playground. I'll be posting the first 16 chapters of my soon to be released book, Way Over the Line. That's roughly a third of it for you to sample for free.

I also have a new twitter feed: @ejkfuntastic. I'd love for you to follow me on that account.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Outlining a Novel--Pre-First Draft Pt. 3

Last week I gave the framework for how I outline my novels (click here to see that post). This week I'm going to focus on how I use that framework. It all basically boils down to one technique: freewriting.

I tackle my ten scenes first. I don't plot these scenes at this point. Instead, I simply write a sentence, maybe two, about them. As I said last time, these are nothing but anchors to get me started. Later in the process is when I'll mold them into workable scenes.

I usually have a pretty good idea for a few of the ten scenes. I'll write them down first. Then, building on those I know, I'll freewrite ideas for the rest of the scenes. What I mean by this is I'll get a blank sheet of paper and write down ideas. I turn off my inner critic and go for anything, no matter how cliched or absurd. After awhile (sometimes an idea or two, sometimes ten or more), something will grab my attention, and I'll plug it into my scenes. I'll continue building until I've constructed the list of ten.

Once my ten scenes are complete, I'll see a pretty good framework for the story. But between each of those scenes are plenty of others that need to be imagined. Now it's time to freewrite some more. But I don't just wade in and hope something sticks; I like to play the "What if?" game.

If you are unfamiliar with the "What if?" game, it's when you ask yourself question after question about your story (usually starting with "What if") and come up with answers. I start with mundane questions and work myself up to the absurd. I then hone down my answers until I find something I'm happy with. I do this based on each of the ten scenes and everything in between until I'm satisfied I have enough material to construct a full outline.

To create my outline, I return to freewriting. I put a 1 on my page and flesh out the first scene of the novel. Once I'm satisfied with that scene, I'll put a 2 on the page and do the same with the second scene. I continue this way until I have my entire manuscript mapped out. I use my ten scenes and "What if?" questions (along with the various other freewrites) as guides. Sometimes as I go I'll decide to add scenes (or subtract scenes), but that's simple at this point. I just add or subtract the numbers.

My outlines have a pretty good amount of details, but they don't have everything I'll want to say when I start writing. For example, if there is a fight scene, my outline will say something simple like, "So-and-so fights so-and-so." I'll leave the details to my first draft. I also don't do much describing in my outline (except for vital descriptions that need to be in the story) so I can be creative in the first draft process. Basically I don't want to have to worry about structure while I'm writing, but I still like to be creative. How I construct my outline lets this happen.

Once this process is done (and it can take multiple writing sessions), I still have a few more steps before I'm ready to write. I'll get to those next week. Until then, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Writing Prompt #40

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun writing!

You discover your spouse/significant other leads a double life.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

#FridayFlash--Her Past

Her Past
by Eric J. Krause

He dug through all the crap at the bottom of the closet, grimacing as he did. It was here somewhere. But, damn it, he couldn't find any sign. Hell, if she knew he was looking for it, let alone if he found it, she'd be pissed beyond reason. That made this a fool's errand, but he'd be the first to admit he was one of the biggest fools around.

Ever since they started dating, he knew she had a past. That was no surprise; everyone had one. Her past was different, though--it was hers and he loved her. He shouldn't care, shouldn't give a damn one way or the other. She loved him, and that's all that should matter. But he had to know. He'd heard too many rumors, too many whispers.

And that brought him to her closet. It all connected somewhere in here amongst the mess. Underneath all of the discarded sweaters, the once-used gift boxes and bags, and so much other assorted junk, he discovered it. He knew as soon as his fingers brushed against the sack. It was like an electric shock shot through his body and mind.

He pulled the bag--just a plain old paper one from the grocery store--from the closet and set it on the floor. He wanted to dive right in, figure out what it was, what her secret was, but he practiced a bit of patience, something he wasn't always good at. Whatever was in there was big--life-altering big. Was he ready for it? Probably not, but that wouldn't stop him.

He gasped as he opened it. An unnatural bright light shone out from the fabric inside. He reached in, expecting the worst, but when he touched it, nothing happened. It stayed lit, but no weird energies bounced through his body. He pulled it out of the bag and examined it from every angle.

A costume. Or uniform. Whatever. It was just as he feared.

The door opened, and she walked in. He looked up. Her face first obscured in confusion, and then hardened into anger. Before he could say anything--an excuse, an apology, anything--she clapped her hands. The costume disappeared from his arms and reappeared on her. She was. She really was!

Awesome Lady. The very one from the comic books. The one they made that television series about. Even that god-awful motion picture (but that wasn't her fault--that had script and casting problems from day one). And he was dating her. Her alter-ego anyway.

"Couldn't just leave it alone, could you?"

He tried to shake his head, tried to stand up, but couldn't move.

"Don't bother trying. I'm controlling you. For the first time in what I thought was an excellent relationship. But you had to dig. You couldn't be content with love. You had to figure out what made me tick, where I'd been, and all that bullshit."

She started crying, and the costume disappeared, leaving her in the clothes she walked in with. "Don't bother trying to follow me. You won't keep up. You won't be able to find me. In fact . . ."

She snapped her fingers, and he found himself at home, lying on his couch, with a baseball game on the tube. What the hell? Must've fallen asleep. And he'd had the weirdest dream. He'd been dating Awesome Lady. He chuckled. Too many comic books lately. He'd have to cut back.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Outlining a Novel-Pre-First Draft Pt. 2

As I've said, I need to outline my novel or the story won't get written. I've tried too many times to simply start writing, and each attempt has resulted in a few chapters that went nowhere. When I plot it out, however, I actually get a finished manuscript. Today I'll show you how I begin my outlining/plotting process.

I use a form of the three act structure. Act one goes from a strong opening scene to the first turning point--or first really big problem for the protagonist. Act two is obviously the large middle section of the book. For my purposes, I break it into two sections. Part one of act two goes from building on turning point one by intensifying the problem to the temporary triumph for the protagonist--it looks like he or she has won, but we'll soon learn that it won't last. The second part of act two goes from the reversal--where we see how the protagonist's triumph has gone sour--to the second turning point of the story--the lowest point for the protagonist, where it looks like it's all over. The third act goes from the protagonist discovering what the final obstacle is and moves forward to the final resolution of the story. Of course, for readers to really remember the story after they've finished the book, it should end with a bang.

In order to start plotting, I use that three act structure and break it down into ten key scenes. These scenes are the anchors to my plotting. A novel, obviously, is much more than ten scenes, so these ten are an excellent place to put the initial dots I need to connect. I will list below the framework I use for the ten scenes. 1 and 2 are act one; 3 through 5 are act two, part one; 6 through 8 are act two, part two, and 9 and 10 are act three.

1) Decide what the opening should be (should be a strong scene).
2) Decide what turning point #1 is (what makes the story big, or the first huge problem for the protagonist).
3) Decide how the problem intensifies (how the story gets bigger, more meaningful).
4) Decide what big even can happen in the middle of act two, part one (relates to the protagonist solving the problem).
5) Decide what the temporary triumph for the protagonist is.
6) Decide what the reversal is (how the protagonist's triumph goes wrong).
7) Decide what big event can happen in the middle of act two, part two (relates to the protagonist solving the problem).
8) Decide what turning point #2 is (this should be the lowest point for the protagonist--it looks like he or she can't win).
9) Decide what the final obstacle is for the protagonist to overcome.
10) Decide what the resolution to the story is.

That's the beginning framework I use. Bear in mind that if the story later calls for it, I'll move things around. I'm only strict in my structure at this point because I don't yet know much about the plot--but more on that in weeks to come. Next week I'll give you a look at how I fill in the details of these ten scenes. Until then, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Writing Prompt #39

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as fantasy this week, but take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

Flowers and trees start singing to you.