Thursday, December 30, 2010


by Eric J. Krause

"Frilly Frillbrast here for North Pole Elf Television interviewing the head of the Toy Department, Tolly Tollbrilly. How are you today, Mr. Tollbrilly?"

"Call me Tolly. And I have to say how excited I am to be on NPETV. It's always on in the workshop."

"I'm delighted to hear that. Hopefully more departments will follow suit. The reason I'm here with Mr. Toll . . . excuse me, Tolly, is that the big announcement came down just a few hours ago. This year the Toy Department pulled down the big award: Department of the Season. How does that make you and your crew feel?"

"We're still stunned, Frilly. All we want is for everything to run smooth for the big night. We know we're the ones who not only have to be done with our products first, but we have to be on our toes for the last minute nice list converts."

"Excellent. This is the first win for the Toy Department in quite a number of years, is it not, Mr. Toll . . . excuse me, Tolly?"

"Sure is, Frilly. I don't think there are words enough to describe how ultra-excited we all are."

"In a related note, this is your first year as the head of the Toy Department."

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean anything. We wouldn't be anywhere without the hardworking group I have in there. I just made sure they were motivated with plenty of milk and cookies."

"Milk and cookies?"

"Yes, sir, Frilly. Everyday I'd set a goal. If we achieved it, milk and cookie party for everyone. That's what kept us in the game."

"As the star reporter for North Pole Elf Television, I'm often in the trenches, so to speak, and I have to say I've noticed most departments doing this. How did it happen to work so well for your group?"

"I made sure our goal didn't stay stagnant. If I noticed moral dipping, the goal would drop to a level I knew we couldn't miss. If I saw a bunch of swelled ears in there, it would rise to an almost impossible level. Funny thing is, that group in there is such a well-oiled machine that more often than not they'd hit that inflated mark. Those were the days I went home with tears in my eyes. No department head should be blessed with such elves."

"Wow, sounds like you might have a dynasty on your hands. You might not get the trophy back anytime soon, Master List Department. So there you have it, folks. I want to thank the head of the Toy Department, Tolly Tollbrilly, for joining us today. From all of us at North Poll Elf Television, Mr. Toll . . . excuse me again, Tolly, we'd like to thank you for the interview."

"My pleasure, Frilly. Can I give just a couple of shout outs?"


"All my elves are all-stars, but I just want to thank my three MVPs: Milly Milbrinker, Doddy Doddbist, and Ochy Ochvibint. Any time I, or anybody else on the team, needed anything, they were right there to get it."

"Fantastic! For Mr. Tolly Tollbrilly, this is Frilly Frillbrast signing off. Have a fantastic night, North Pole."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Writing Prompt #47

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!

After the "Happy New Year!" has been shouted, someone is found dead.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Story in the 12 Days 2010 online anthology

I had my story, "Twelve Drummers Drumming," published today over on the 12 Days 2010 website. I'm thrilled to be a part of this project, as there are 23 other great stories there as well. You can read my story here, and make sure you take some time to check out the other great stories, each pertaining to one of the 12 days of Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

#FridayFlash--Santa's Secret War

Santa's Secret War
by Eric J. Krause

"Gather round, gather round. Yes, Billy, Gramma is bringing out cocoa and cookies. But while we wait, I have a story for you kids. I've always loved stories on Christmas Eve. No, Mandy, it's not going to take any time away from presents. You know as well as I that those don't start until your mommy and Auntie Peg finish cleaning the kitchen.

"What story, you ask? This is the story of how Santa became the undisputed King of Christmas. I don't know, David. You'll have to tell me if it's true or not when I finish the tale. It might mean an extra gift for each of you.

"Do I have your attention now? Good.

"This didn't happen too long ago. Santa Claus had been around for many a year at this point, but something happened which made him have to fight to keep his place as the jolly guy who ruled Christmas. A surly little goblin named Gilly Weedwacker started a war to take over Christmas.

"It happened one Christmas Eve-eve night as Santa was just about to jump into bed to rest up for his gigantic tomorrow. The clatter outside his window didn't faze him at first--the elves often liked to blow off steam with rousing rounds of snowball fights. It only took a minute, however, for Santa to realize he wasn't hearing raucous shouts of mirth and joy, but instead yells of pain, surprise, and hate.

"The King of Elves threw open his curtains and saw strange green creatures overtaking his elite Elven guard. The monsters were vicious, but pride poured through Santa when, after the initial shock wore off, his elves fought back hard. There were far too many goblins (that's what those creatures were) for the Elven guards to handle. Many surged through the ranks as his elves handled the first wave. Santa could only hope the rest of his army could repel these evil invaders.

"Mrs. Claus urged Santa to stay hidden; he was too important to the world to go down in battle. He shook his head. No, if these goblins succeeded in overthrowing the North Pole, it wouldn't matter if he were alive or dead. And his elves would fight all the harder if they knew their beloved leader was standing tall alongside them on the front.

"Santa's elves, even though they weren't an elite force like his advanced guards, still outclassed the goblins one-on-one. Too bad the goblins outnumbered them three or four to one. How had such a large force advanced up the world without anyone noticing? The North Pole had surveillance equipment to prepare for situations such as this. How had they missed this assault?

"And then he knew. The smell hit him first. Gilly Weedwacker. King of the Goblins. While his subjects were lower than low-tech, Gilly possessed magic that could get this job done.

"Santa stepped up to face the challenge. Sweat dripped down his rosy cheeks. Though he knew his powers were more than a match for the Goblin King's, any careless maneuver would give the upper hand to Gilly Weedwacker. That would mean the goblins would control Christmas, and no one wanted that.

"The goblin grunts and Elven warriors all stopped and turned to watch their leaders clash. None of them mattered, and they knew it. This war would be won and lost by the two big-wigs. If they could have, both sides would have pulled up comfy couches and munched on popcorn while they watched.

"Gilly Weedwacker struck first. Goblin magic is deadly, but a master of Elven magic can turn even the most devastating spell aside. And, boys and girls, Santa was--and is--a master of Elven magic. He's never had an equal. And on that night, with his entire workshop--nay, his whole holiday--in jeopardy, the Goblin King stood less of a chance than the proverbial snowball in Hades.

"With a mere flick of his wrist, Santa knocked the torturous spell aside. A quick snap of his fingers brought Gilly Weedwacker, who'd been planning this assault on Christmas for over a century, to his knees. Mop up wasn't even necessary. Victory belonged to Santa and his elves. The goblin soldiers couldn't scatter out of there fast enough.

"With Gilly Weedwacker utterly and easily defeated, there was no one to challenge Santa. And that, children, is the story of why Santa is the current, and forever, King of Christmas.

"So, as David asked earlier, is this a true tale? Before you answer, I want each of you to go look into your stockings. Yes, Mandy, I realize you never open them until morning. And I also know each of you snooped in them before dinner. You better believe I was watching. Was there anything in them then? No? I didn't think so.

"Yeah, those are each for you. Only kids who know about Santa's Secret War can get those presents. Those are there for you to promise to tell your grandchildren when they're old enough. Yes, it's a long time away, but those will help you remember. I promise.

"How? Easy. I got the same gift when I was your age. Now don't hold yourselves in suspense any longer. Open them up."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why not buy an Ebook?

Tis the season to buy an ebook, and I have three for your downloading pleasure! These make great gifts, either from someone on your list or even yourself! And they're very reasonably priced.

The first book I have for you is my upper middle grade/young adult book, Way Over the Line. Jessie Campbell loves baseball, but he's terrified of the ball. Though he can make great running catches, if a ball is hit right at him, he'll duck out of the way. And forget about batting. When he and his best friend, Ryder Gonzalez, are abducted by space aliens, the boys learn that the aliens want Ryder to play in the huge Intergalactic Over the Line Tournament. Jessie is only along for the ride. He soon learns, however, that this won't be a simple spectator sport. He'll need to deal with horrors such as space pirates, and, even worse, actually participating on the field. With the help of Ryder, his alien teammates, a cute girl from another planet, and even Mickey Martell, the best baseball player in the Universe, Jessie must learn to push away his fears and focus on learning how to better play the game--both mentally and physically.

And if all of that wasn't enough pressure, there's also whisperings that he may be the fabled Chosen One, destined to bring the championship to his team.

Though this one is aimed at 10-13 year-olds, anyone who is a fan of baseball and/or science fiction will be sure to enjoy this tale. You can get it at:
Amazon for your Kindle here
Or here at Smashwords for most other formats, including right on your computer
Wherever you get it, it's only $1.99!

I also have a book called The Breath of Life and Other Stories, which is a short story collection containing 20 of my stories. They are works of speculative fiction--horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Discover what the downfall of Atlantis was. Enter a video game that is a bit too real. Watch a hide-and-seek-type game that gets interrupted by evil spirits. Discover what pushed one blues guitarist over the edge. See who the mysterious figure in the window really is. Find out why there always seems to be a crowd at accident sights. Find the secrets of eternal power with the twin coffins. Join a young adventurer on his first quest. Learn the secret of a town of dragons. Find out what happens when a war clone falls in love. Discover if a controversial medical technique can cure amnesia. Wait and see if a dating phone line is what it says it is. All this plus much more.

You can get it at:
Amazon for the Kindle
Barnes and Noble for the Nook
Smashwords for most other formats
This one will only cost you $0.99!

Finally, I have one that won't cost you a cent! This is a free download at Smashwords called The Friday Flash Stories of Eric J. Krause: Volume 1. This is fifty flash fiction stories that are tales of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, as well as some bent more towards the mainstream.

To download it for free on Smashwords, click here.

I hope you'll give these a look. What better way to fill up an ereader or smart phone with a reading app?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Writing Prompt #46

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

The North Pole is under attack.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

#FridayFlash--Her Mission

by Eric J. Krause

Angelica watched the little girl shuffle through the mall. She should be with an adult, but no one around looked like they knew her. The little girl, however, paid none of this any mind. She was on a mission. Angelica only wished she knew what it was.

Up ahead, Santa loomed. Of course. No little one could resist the allure of the jolly old elf. She clutched something in her fist, no doubt a crudely written list of Christmas wishes. Angelica almost left right then, content this one had found her way. Mom or Dad would surely be right behind.

Until the little girl wandered past without so much as a glance at the Santa display. Now Angelica watched with full attention. Where could one this young be going by herself, especially when she had no business being alone?

Angelica scouted ahead to guess the destination. Then she lagged behind to find any frantic parents searching for their little darling. No luck.

Others around the mall began to take notice. This was good, to a point. Most people had nothing but honorable intentions, but those few that didn't . . . Well, they were the reason Angelica searched a bit harder for answers.

Before anyone could intercept the girl, she found her destination: a kiosk specializing in wallets. The twenty-something behind the counter smiled down at the girl.

"Do I have enough for a new wallet?" She held out a small amount; Angelica saw three dollars and some loose change. "Daddy says he never has enough money, so his probably has a hole in it."

Angelica waved her hand at the clerk so he'd see the correct amount. She'd make sure the till had enough before closing. She also perked the clerk's curiosity about the girl.

"Where are your parents?" he asked as he handed her a brown leather tri-fold wallet.

"Mommy's in the bathroom, and Daddy's looking in the TV store. I wanted to surprise them."

The clerk chuckled. "And I'm sure you have." He picked up a phone, likely to call security.

Angelica drifted to where she guessed the girl's parents would be based on the description. She found them on the brink of hysterics, but a peaceful word calmed them both. They hurried in the direction of their daughter, now certain they'd find her.

Not far from the wallet stand, the young family reunited in tears and hugs. Angelica twirled her halo, unfolded her wings, and rose back to the heavens. All in a day's work.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Break from the Project--Revision Process Pt. 1

For many authors, this step is the toughest. You need to let the first draft rest. Preferably for as long as a month. That might seem like forever, and you might think you'll lose valuable momentum on your novel, but trust me, this is important downtime away from the book. The reason you want to wait is so when you do start tearing into that first draft, the words and story will seem fresh to you. This makes it much easier to catch mistakes and to be open to changes that need to be make in order to create a better story.

What can you do in this downtime? I like to work on other projects, such as short stories or thinking up new novel ideas. I also occasionally take time off from writing anything and simply read more than normal. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you take your mind off your first draft. You'll be worrying enough about it in the coming months, so enjoy this time now.

That's it for this week. Simple advice, but sometimes difficult to achieve. When the new year gets rolling, I'll get into my actual revision process. Until then, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Writing Prompt #45

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!

Someone (or something) crawls down your chimney.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

#FridayFlash--Missed Visit

Missed Visit
by Eric J. Krause

Riley's eyes flashed open, and he flung his pillow off the bed. Instead of a crisp dollar bill, his tooth lay there mocking him. Tears flashed in his eyes, but he refused to give into them. Instead, he picked up his tooth and stormed out to find his parents. And answers.

Mom sat at the kitchen table, reading the morning paper on her laptop. Dad stood cooking eggs and bacon at the stove. Neither noticed him until he slammed his tooth onto the table.

"The Tooth Fairy didn't come."

Mom and Dad shared a panicked look that wasn't lost on Riley.

"She's fake, just like Santa, right? Even though you promised me she wasn't, you lied about her."

Mom's face had gone pale, and Dad had turned off the burners even though breakfast wasn't done. Dad put a hand on Mom's shoulder. Riley saw it was shaking. Mom started to cry.

"She . . . she really didn't come?" Dad asked.

Riley sighed and shook his head. "Bobby Milken told me she was just like Santa, but I didn't want to believe him. I guess he was right." Riley stuck out his hand. "So just give me the dollar and we'll pretend none of this happened." It stunk that they lied to him, and then got caught in it, but he didn't really care. He just wanted the dollar promised to him.

Mom sobbed harder, leaped forward to give him a big hug, and then ran from the room. Dad, whose face might've looked paler than Mom's, sat down in her chair.

"What's going on?" This went way beyond them forgetting to trade out his tooth with a dollar.

Dad didn't answer right away, and when he did, Riley had to strain to hear. Dad sounded like he'd break down into tears any moment, just like Mom.

"I swear to you, Riles, the Tooth Fairy does exist."

Riley scoffed and held up his tooth. "Earth to Dad. If she existed, I'd have a dollar right now instead of this."

"She only skips kids if . . . if . . . " He stared crying, but managed to finish with, "if that kid is going to die the next day."


His dad grabbed him in a bear hug and sobbed into his shoulder.

"So should I stay home from school today?" he asked when Dad finally let go. A missed day of school wouldn't be so bad. Sounded like a fair trade to him.

Mom walked up behind him and tousled his hair. Her eyes were red and puffy. "No. It's said if you hide from your troubles, it'll get you for sure. But if you go about your normal day, there's a chance the curse won't hit." She did her best to give him a brave smile. "And you can put your tooth back under the pillow tomorrow night." She nudged him towards his room. "Go get set for school."

Riley frowned but complied. Why did he have to go? He was the one dying, not them. It wasn't fair!

Ten minutes later, he emerged with his backpack slung over his shoulder. "Are you sure I can't stay here and hide out?"

They both shook their heads. Mom gave him a big hug and kiss before breaking down into tears again. Dad hugged him while scrunching up his face to keep from crying. They both waved and closed the front door.

Riley sighed and headed for the sidewalk and school.

Holiday Writings as Gifts

As a writer with not much money to spend on gifts for my extended family, I've discovered that a Christmas-themed short story works wonders. I write a piece of flash fiction, print out enough copies for everyone, and stick them into everyone's Christmas card. I make sure the story is short enough so it fits on one printed page, though since it's not going to a publisher, I can fudge the margins, text size, and other formatting features as necessary. I've been doing this for four or five years, and it's become a hit with the family. Since I've been doing this for a number of years, I've gotten into a rhythm. One year I'll write a heart-felt nice story, and the next I'll pen a more lighthearted story.

I print my stories out on regular white paper. To gussy it up a bit, I'll go through the fonts and pick a fancy one that matches the mood of the story. For example, if I have a sweet story about an angel reuniting a young girl with her family, I'll use a flowing, flowery font, while if I have a story of a PI interrogating Santa, I'll use Times New Roman. The possibilities are endless. You could go with fancy multi-colored paper; you could, if you're a crafty sort of person, add lace or other ornaments to the page; you could write a short poem and needlecraft it; or you could do anything else your imagination can come up with. The great thing about family (for the most part) is that they tend to appreciate the hard work as much as the gift itself.

To sum up, I like to use my talent for the written word as a gift for my family. It's unique to my family--no other family out there in the world is getting that story as a gift. You can make it as elaborate or simple as you want, and it's still a special gift. I hope this has inspired some of you to use your writing talents--be it flash fiction or poetry--to give as gifts this (and every) year! Have a Happy Holiday season!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Writing Prompt #44

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!

An assassin targets the king.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Free ecopies of Way Over the Line

I'd like to give out free e-copies to my middle grade novel called Way Over the Line. I'm doing this by giving out a code from Smashwords that will get you the book for free. Here's a description:

"Jessie Campbell loves baseball, but he's terrified of the ball. Though he can make great running catches, if a ball is hit right at him, he'll duck out of the way. And forget about batting. When he and his best friend, Ryder Gonzalez, are abducted by space aliens, the boys learn that the aliens want Ryder to play in the huge Intergalactic Over the Line Tournament. Jessie is only along for the ride. He soon learns, however, that this won't be a simple spectator sport. He'll need to deal with horrors such as space pirates, and, even worse, actually participating on the field. With the help of Ryder, his alien teammates, a cute girl from another planet, and even Mickey Martell, the best baseball player in the Universe, Jessie must learn to push away his fears and focus on learning how to better play the game--both mentally and physically.

And if all of that wasn't enough pressure, there's also whisperings that he may be the fabled Chosen One, destined to bring the championship to his team."

This is a book aimed at 10 to 13 year olds who are baseball and/or science fiction fans, though I think it's a story that can make anyone happy who reads it. And who can beat for free, right? To get your code, you don't have to agree to do anything but send me a direct message on Twitter. You can find a link to me on Twitter here. That's it, though I do have some requests.

If you enjoy the book, or if you think you know others who would enjoy it, please give them the link either on Smashwords or Amazon (both links are at the top right of my webpage, and I will put them at the bottom of this post). If you know teachers who teach upper elementary school or middle school/junior high, I'd love for you to share the links with them. If you know parents with age-appropriate kids, I'd love for you to give them the links. If you know others who simply enjoy a good story, I'd love for you to give them the links. The book is only $1.99 on both Smashwords and Amazon, so it won't cost much at all for those you recommend to. I'd appreciate it if you didn't hand out the code to anyone else, but honestly, there's nothing I can do to stop you from doing so. I only earnestly ask that you don't publish the code anywhere in a public forum.

That's all I request: if you enjoyed it, let others know. I don't even require it from you, just request. You don't need to retweet my links, you don't need to say anything about it. Just send me a direct message on Twitter and you get a code for a free book. I'd love a review on Goodreads, at Amazon, at Smashwords, but again, none of that is necessary for you to get your free code. It's just me humbly asking for some publicity for my story.

So, to recap, simply send me a direct message on Twitter and I'll send you a code for a free copy of Way Over the Line. That's it. No hidden catches. I just hope you enjoy the book and tell others that you enjoyed it. Thanks everyone!

In case you've never used Smashwords, I believe you have to sign up for an account to get the free book, but that account is free and should only take you a minute or two to sign up for. I also believe you don't need to enter any credit card number if you put in the free code.

Click here to find Way Over the Line on Smashwords

Click here to find Way Over the Line on Amazon for the Kindle

Thursday, December 2, 2010


by Eric J. Krause

I'll never forget it. It'll haunt me to my dying day. Possibly into the afterlife, whatever that entails.

There I was, minding my own business, walking to the corner convenience store for a bag of low-sodium soy chips and a diet flavored water (damn healthy living) when I noticed people congregating around, looking up. What the hell? Monkey see, monkey do, right? I turned my attention skyward.

Up on the top floor of a four story apartment building perched a man. Using my keen insight into human behavior, I knew he wasn't there to catch a few rays. But I didn't know if this was some sort of publicity stunt or if he might really jump.

No one on the ground said a word. Heck, I think most were holding their breath. I joined them, though I wished I hadn't. Not in holding my breath, but in the whole thing. Why hadn't I kept walking?

The guy on the roof never shouted demands or pleas or anything. No one on the ground yelled up any advice or words to talk him down. I was as guilty as anyone. Someone called 9-1-1; the approaching sirens in the distance spoke to that.

When a cop car turned onto the street about a half-mile down, the roof guy made his move, and it was a doozy. He stepped off the ledge and plummeted to the street. The crowd let out a collective gasp and leaned forward. Except me. I had no wish to see the aftermath, so I turned away.

Oh, if I'd only thought to plug my ears, I might be able to sleep at night without my dreams being haunted by that sound. I wouldn't cringe anytime anything made a bang or squishing noise. I used to think it such a funny, silly sound, but no longer.


Way Over the Line at

Way Over The Line is now available on Amazon for the Kindle: Click here to check it out! If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a free app to read Kindle books right on your computer. Or if you have a smartphone or other device, you can download a free Kindle reader for that, too. No excuse to not check this out! ;-) 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!

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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Short Story--The Clown Killer

Happy Halloween! I'm honored to have this story chosen to be the Halloween story for The 13 Days of Horror. It's called "The Clown Killer." Check it out here. Give it a read, and let me know what you think. And when you finish my story, go give the other 12 stories a read. You won't be disappointed.

New Short Story--The Eye

Happy Halloween! I have a new short story called "The Eye" in the Halloween special of the audio magazine, Dark Movements. You get six great stories in the episode. Check it out here.
(EDIT: Unfortunately, the audio magazine is on longer online. Please enjoy the story below.)

If you'd like to follow along with my story while you listen, here it is:

The Eye
by Eric J. Krause

The eye in the window across the street stared at him. He considered that it might be a poster or picture of some sort, but that wasn't it. He could swear he'd seen it move.

What did it want? Why was it targeting him? And why could no one else see it?

His wife refused to discuss it anymore. The neighbors crossed the street when they saw him coming. Even the mailman rushed to and from the mailbox a bit quicker. All because the eye wouldn't show itself to anyone else.

So now he sat at the window, all hours of the day, and looked at the eye. Which stared back at him. All day every day.

No matter how long he sat there, nothing became clearer. It was still a mystery he couldn't explain. And he needed to know.

Late one night, long after his wife had gone up to bed, he decided it was time. Sure, he could have waited until mid-morning and knocked on the door. He had no clue who lived there, so maybe there was a simple explanation. Yeah, he could do that. But he wasn't going to.

He grabbed the sharpest, meanest-looking knife from the chopping block and headed across the street. He might not need it, or anything of the sort, but better safe than sorry. Maybe the eye would see him coming and hide. Then he really could come back in the morning.

No. It watched him the entire way. Little movements in its iris let him know it saw him. How did no one else notice this thing? It pulsed with life.

Knock or not? He could peek in each window and see what was going on. Maybe he'd find one open, and he could sneak in without anyone any the wiser. Before the decision proved necessary, the front door creaked open a crack.

"Hello?" he called. No answer. He pushed the door open all the way. Damn it was dark in there. "Hello?" he tried again. He almost asked if there were any giant eyeballs home, but that would be absurd. He giggled, and it bordered on deranged, even in his own mind.

Since no one answered, he walked in. Maybe no one lived here at all. He couldn't remember a moving van after that last family (The Joneses? The Smiths?) moved out. He gripped his knife tighter and looked around for the giant eye, though he could barely see past his nose.

The door slammed shut. Something breathed. He could hear it, feel it. He moaned as it slithered past his leg.

And then the pain hit.


The neighbors gathered around outside her house. The police had already left, finding no signs of foul play. Her husband, though, was still a no show. They'd all heard his muffled screams, but no one could quite place where.

With his unhealthy obsession with that abandoned house, she figured he'd be inside, but they'd found no sign of him. He'd be back, and then she'd get him whatever help he needed.

As the talks wound down and neighbors began to disperse, she gave one last look back to that house. She gasped. Had that window winked at her?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween FridayFlash #2--Bloody Mary

This is my second #FridayFlash for the week. You can find my first one, a kid friendly horror tale, here.

Bloody Mary
by Eric J. Krause

Jenni handed Samantha a thumbtack. "Jab your thumb and wipe the blood on your forehead. Then spin around three times and say, 'Bloody Mary,' each time."

"No," Samantha said. "That'll hurt."

"But you said 'dare,'" Melinda said. "If you don't do it, you lose."

"And we tell the whole school you like Gerald Wilcox," Jenni said.

Samantha froze. They would, too. They'd been holding that threat over her head to make her do whatever they wanted ever since Jenni saw her doodles proclaiming her love for Gerald on the inside of her notebook. Fine. What was a few seconds of pain compared to an entire school year of torture?

"What happens after I spin and say her name?"

"Bloody Mary will show up in the mirror over the fireplace," Melinda said.

Samantha chuckled. "And then she'll grant me my greatest wish, right?"

The other two girls rolled their eyes. "No," Jenni said. "She'll probably do something bloody. Why do you think they call her Bloody Mary?"

Samantha held out her thumb and positioned the tack over it. The two girls squealed in delight and pushed closer. They hadn't thought she'd do it. She nicked her thumb, bringing a quick sting, and fought hard not to jam it in her mouth. Instead, as the rules said, she rubbed the blood on her forehead and spun three times, chanting "Bloody Mary," with each spin. Only then did she suck her thumb to quell the bleeding.

Jenni was the unlucky one who noticed first. She let out a gasp and pointed to the mirror. Blood poured down her face as her eyeballs melted. Melinda screamed and tried to run out of the room, but her yells turned to gags, and she skidded down on the carpet. Her tongue turned to gore, and blood gushed from her mouth.

An evil presence grabbed Samantha by the chin and forced her to look at the mirror. A beautiful woman with alabaster skin, a blood-red dress, and glowing eyes smiled down at her.

"How did you trick them into letting you call me, my daughter?" Bloody Mary asked.

Samantha flashed a wicked grin. "Mind manipulation. These two stupid sluts proved to be no challenge."

"All because of the boy?"

Samantha scoffed and gave her mother a look that said she was getting a bit dull in her old age. "Not any boy. Unwittingly or not, they did almost force out the Anti-Christ before his time. The agents of good would have no doubt intervened and put an end to his wicked ways before we could even start. And where would that leave us?"

A whimper escaped Jenni as she tried to look around the room with holes where her eyes used to be. A strangled moan erupted from Melinda as she reached into her mouth, only to find her tongue obliterated.

"Let me put them out of their miseries, Daughter. I swear, sometimes you surpass even me in your cruelty."

"Don't go soft on me, Mother. We've been planning this for two millennia. These girls mean nothing in the grand scheme of things."

"Fine, fine. Shall I take my leave for now?"

A look of hate flashed across Samantha's face. "Not yet. The blind one's parents are around somewhere. Don't you think their genitals need to be punished for breeding such a stupid bitch?"

Halloween #FridayFlash #1-The Green Faced-Witch

I had a Friday Flash all ready to go, and then this story came available. (Good news/bad news, I guess. Bad news that it didn't win the contest I entered it in, but good news that I can share it here.) So I decided to publish them both this week. Check out my other story here. It's a bit more adult in gore and language, while this one is fine for audiences of all ages. So, without further ado, here's my first Friday Flash for the week.

The Green-Faced Witch
by Eric J. Krause

Jeremy stalked over to the snack table and let out an exaggerated sigh. Why did it have to rain on Halloween night? He had the perfect costume and everything. He would have had a full bag of candy, but instead Mom forbade him from trudging around the neighborhood in the wet weather. Now he was stuck at a party in his school's auditorium.

He scarfed down a few chips and scanned the room for his friends. Before he spotted anyone, a voice came from behind him. "Fun party, huh?"

He turned and found a girl in a witch costume. He didn't recognize her, but she looked pretty cute underneath all the green makeup. "I guess. I'd rather be out Trick or Treating."

"Not me. Parties are way more fun. You get to meet all sorts of people."

He squinted, trying to figure out who she was, but no luck. "Do you go to school here?"

"I used to. I like to come back and visit on Halloween."

Before she could elaborate, Mr. Martin, the assistant principal, spoke up. "Gather around, everyone. It can't be Halloween without a spooky story."

The witch grabbed Jeremy's hand. Her grip was ice cold and clammy, as if she'd just come in from the wet weather. She led him over to the group, and they all formed a circle. The lights shut off, and Mr. Martin held up a flashlight to his face. Everyone giggled, but quieted quickly in anticipation of the story.

"Thirty years ago tonight," Mr. Martin said in his creepiest voice, "a student from this very school went out Trick or Treating with her friends. She dressed up as a witch, complete with green makeup covering her face. She had a great time, and pulled in a sack-full of candy, but when they got to the large house right across the street from the school, they stopped."

One of the kids called out, "But there's no house across the street. It's a mini-mall."

Mr. Martin nodded. "It is now, but back then, it was a rickety old mansion. Most kids, and even many adults, kept their distance because they said it was haunted. And no one could dispute that, especially on dark Halloween nights.

"The young witch's group of friends crossed the street to stay as far away from the house as possible. But not her. She saw a light on and guessed whoever lived there probably had the best candy. What better place to Trick or Treat than at a haunted house? None of her friends would go up there with her. Instead, they watched as she approached the front of the house alone.

"As she stepped up to the door, it creaked open, but no one was there. She pushed it all the way open and called out, "Is anyone here?" She received no answer. Just as she started to turn away to go back to her friends, a small sign in the middle of the floor caught her eye. "This way for candy," it read. How could she pass that up? She stepped inside, and the door slammed shut.

"Her friends hollered at her to come back out, but the door remained closed. One friend ran to a pay phone in front of the school--remember, this was before people carried cell phones--and called the police. When an officer showed up a few minutes later and walked through the house, no one was there. The girl was never seen again.

"People say on dark Halloween nights, just like this one, a strange girl in a witch costume can be seen wandering around the area looking for her friends."

Mr. Martin gave a sinister laugh, and the auditorium lights flashed back on. No one said anything for a few seconds, but then the room filled with laughs and applause. Jeremy turned to the girl in the witch costume to ask if she liked the story, especially since she was dressed the same as the ghost, but she was gone.

Darren, a kid he knew from his math class, was sitting a few feet away. "Hey, did you see where the girl that was here went?"

Darren gave him a funny look. "What are you talking about? There was no girl sitting here. You walked over here alone."

Jeremy's blood froze, and he pulled out his cell phone to call his parents. It was time to go home and hide under the covers.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Initial Construction of Characters

Today I want to discuss how I create my characters for my novels. As silly as it seems, I don't spend a huge amount of pre-writing time getting to know my characters. Believable characters are a huge part of what makes a story successful, so it would stand to reason that I should, but I don't. Here's why and what I do at this stage.

I find my characters come to life while I write, which is the opposite of my plot, which is lifeless if I don't map it out. For the most part, I flesh out their characteristics and personalities on the fly. That's not to say I ignore them before I actually start writing, however.

I need a name for a character before I start. I can't begin giving them life before a name is attached. Usually for an important character, if a name doesn't jump out at me, I'll brainstorm a bunch of different names and look them over. I gather these names from baby name books, character naming books, and my own imagination. It's not an exact science, but almost always two or three will jump out at me. Of these few remaining names, one will sound best for the story and situation of the character. (I go through the same process when picking names for places and anything else that needs a name.)

Once named, based on what the story is about and the character's place in said story, I'll give a couple of key characteristics, be it physical, psychological, or whatever. I do this for all the important characters. The reason I tailor the characters to the story is because the characters are tools to make the plot work (and be entertaining). My job as an author during the first draft and subsequent revisions is to make it seem like the story is a character-driven one instead of how I constructed it. The readers can't see the characters as mere tools that move the plot along, so I need to be wary of that as I write since that's exactly how I created them!

At this point in constructing the novel, that's all I do with characters. I simply decide how many are considered main characters, name them, and give them a couple of key traits. As I continue plotting, I'll write down ideas to flesh them out, but the bulk of it happens during the first draft. When I revise, the first few chapters are usually heaviest with changes and tweaks because I need to fix up where I didn't yet have a handle on the characters. I need them to match up with how they act later in the book.

Next week I'll get into more of the heart of how I plot. I'll show how I organize my outline (and what I mean by outline). Until next time, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Writing Prompt #38

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!

You awake sealed in a coffin.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

#FridayFlash--Mom's Phone

Mom's Phone
by Eric J. Krause

Jessica's cell phone rang, and she frowned as she looked at the display. It read, "Mom's Phone." But that was impossible. Not only had they cancelled the service, but they'd buried the phone with her in the coffin. Mom's last request.


No one spoke, but Jessica could hear raspy breathing.

"Who is this? How did you get that phone?"

The breathing continued, but no answer came.

"Listen, I don't know who this is, but you're sick. I don't even want to know how you got my mother's phone, but rest assured I will be calling the police."


Jessica gasped and tried not to cry. That garbled voice came from her mother. She'd held Mom's hand when she passed. It'd been an open casket funeral. This couldn't be her mother. Mom was dead.

"Jessie? Help me. It hurts. I can't breathe."

Jessica hung up. What else could she do? She wouldn't give the sicko on the other end of the line any more satisfaction, and she wouldn't begin to guess how it sounded so much like her mother. She waited, fully expecting a quick callback, but none came. She thought about calling the police like she'd threatened, but it took her a minute to clear her head. She wasn't quite sure what to think, so she decided to forget about it.

A few days later she'd largely succeeded in knocking the incident from her memory. She'd chalked it up to post-funeral stress and a daydream nightmare. So when her phone rang and the display again read, "Mom's Phone," she didn't know what to think. She answered the phone, but didn't say anything.

Her mom's voice bled out of the earpiece stronger than before. "How could you? You should have saved me." And then the connection went dead.

Jessica dropped her phone, fell to her knees, and sobbed. That wasn't her mom, but her own guilt. Not that it wasn't any less real.

How often in the last few years had Mom complained about her insides hurting? When Jessica asked for specifics, Mom couldn't give any, so Jessica refused to take her to the doctors, citing Mom's notorious hypochondria. Only three months ago, when it was time for a regular check-up, did she finally take Mom to the doctor. Of course they found cancer; of course it could have been treated had it been caught earlier; of course Mom went down quick when she heard.

And of course Jessica blamed herself.

Once all of this ran through her mind, she felt better. It all made sense. No one had dug into her mother's grave to steal the phone. And Mom hadn't risen from the dead to haunt her on a cellular level. Life could go on, and though she might still feel guilty, at least the strange phone calls would stop.

That was the theory, anyway.

The next night, moments after she shut off the lights, her phone rang, and the display read, "Mom's Phone." Crap. Maybe she had a brain tumor. She shouldn't wait too long; she'd make a doctor's appointment in the morning. But in the meantime, she answered the phone and decided to tell off her subconscious.

"Listen here, Mom. I'm sorry I didn't take you to get checked out sooner, but you could have spoken up about it. You could have insisted. But you let yourself die more than I did. I'm at fault, but not as much as you."

Silence on the other end. Jessica took the phone away from her ear to see if it had hung up. It hadn't. Mom's voice sounded out, but not through the earpiece.

"I escaped, Jessie. I've come for you."

Jessica turned, her heart in her throat. Mom stood in the doorway. Dirt matted her skin, hair, and burial clothes, which were ripped and torn. Dull white bones jutted out of her fingertips where flesh and nails should be. And the nauseating stench of embalming fluid wafted through the air.

"Fair is fair, Jessie. You let me die."

She hobbled forward, and Jessica bellowed out a scream. It had to be a brain tumor. She clenched her eyes shut. Mom would be gone when she opened them, and then maybe she'd take herself to the emergency room. No way should she wait to make an appointment tomorrow.

Her eyes flickered open, and Mom continued forward. The smell of fresh dirt joined the embalming fluid. Murder shone from her mother's dead eyes.

Jessica let out her loudest scream yet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Novel Writing: Pre-First Draft Pt. 1

Once I have an idea for a novel, I can't simply start writing my first draft. I know many authors like to take an idea and run with it to see where they get, but I can't write that way. I need structure. Over these next few weeks, I'll show you what I do to get that structure.

My process is a mish-mash of many I've read about throughout the years (in writing books, magazine articles, and Internet sites). I've taken my favorite parts of many of these and mixed them into my own style. I believe this is the best way to go about writing anything--find different sources and use the parts that work best for you.

I begin with story. I know many experts say you should begin with character, but I don't think this is necessary. Don't get me wrong, characters are an extremely important part of the story, but I find I prefer constructing them and fleshing them out after I see what they'll be required to do.

The first thing I do is write a single sentence that summarizes the main idea of the story. This might sound like a huge task at the very beginning--not much of the story is known at this point--but remember it's nothing more than a jumping off point. As I continue through the process, this single sentence might still be the best indicator of what the story is about, or it might be a shadow of what the novel turns into. It doesn't matter. As long as this sentence gets me thinking and plotting, it's done its job. I sometimes take an entire day or more with this step. I find that as I tinker with different wordings and phrases, new and better ideas pop into my brain. Sometimes the first sentence I construct turns out to be the best, but I find the story as a whole is better because I've played around with the sentence for so long.

After I have my single sentence summary, I expand that into a paragraph. I do my best to keep it to four or five sentences: the first for how the story starts, the next two or three for key events in the middle, and the last for how the story ends. This gives me a great starting point for plotting the novel. I may come up with better ideas for all of these points, but I need them to get ideas to flesh out the story. Like with the one sentence summary, I don't take the first idea that pops into my mind, but I play with many different ideas. These first two steps alone could take me a few days to a week, but they lay the groundwork for everything that is to come.

The last step before I move onto characters is to discover the hook of the story. This is what draws readers in, what distinguishes the book from others of the same genre. By this point I usually have a pretty good idea of what the hook for this particular story is, but I like to write it down anyway. This hook should be a strength of the story, so I want to occasionally look back at it to keep it firmly in my mind as I plot and later write.

Now I'm ready to start thinking about who populates this story. Next week I'll show you how much characterization I do at this point of the process. Until then, keep writing and/or reading!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Writing Prompt #37

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!

Subliminal messages in a popular song infect the world.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Flash Deathmatch

I just found out I'm in a Friday Flash Deathmatch this week. Head on over to ShadowCast Audio Anthology and vote. My Friday Flash story for this week, "The Black and White Photograph," is up against this week's Friday Flash story from the always excellent Laurita Miller. Go read both stories and vote for your favorite. And while you're there, why not listen to the Masters of Horror podcast? It'll be well worth your time.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

#fridayflash-The Black and White Photograph

The Black and White Photograph
by Eric J. Krause

Andrea sat at her desk with her lukewarm coffee and glanced at the clock. A half-hour until first-grade recess. In years past, these oral reports usually took about that long, but this class never made anything easy. No doubt they'd do everything they could to stall the process, so she figured on another half-hour after recess. But she'd put a button on this project, even if it took the rest of the school day.

The first few students did a great job. She had to prompt them to give their first and last names--they found it silly since everyone already knew who they were--but otherwise it went quick and smooth. They showed an old family photograph, briefly explained what the picture was about, and said why they liked it. Instead of having each student take five minutes to allow everyone to scrutinize the picture (and, yes, this group would drag it out to a full five minutes or more), she'd promised they could get up and look at all the photos at the end. That would be a horribly noisy unorganized chunk of time, but it was better than wasting that same amount with each presentation.

Though a few of her usual suspects mucked up the process a bit with feet dragging and excess questions, she was pleased with the kids. They might hit recess with only a few left to complete. But up next was one of her wildcards. Maude (such a strange name for a child nowadays) could give the best report of the day, or she'd forget about her photo altogether and perform a song and dance. To Andrea's relief, the girl clutched a black and white photograph on her way to the front of the class.

When Maude held up the picture, everyone in class, even her most rowdy boys, went silent. Andrea perked up because this never happened. Jared and Hector would whisper and giggle even if she brought in their favorite animated feature to watch.

"This is my great-great-great Grandma Maude. She's relaxing in her favorite sofa on a warm day. I love this picture because she's me."

"You mean she looks like you, Maude?" Andrea asked. She couldn't see the picture clear enough from back at her desk to tell. Or was Maude simply confused because she shared her ancestor's name?

Maude looked up and flashed a wicked grin, unlike any a six year old should possess. "No, Mrs. Billups. Watch."

Some sort of energy pulsed out of the photo, and every student slumped down in their desk. A few face-planted hard on the surface. How was she going to explain broken and bloodied noses to the parents?

"And now I have seventeen more souls stored up next time I need to be young again. But I can always use another."

Before Andrea could do anything, Maude stepped forward and held up the photo. The woman in the picture really did look like the girl. The eyes glowed silver, and she couldn't look away.

"It's true about photography and the stealing of souls. It's not the camera that does it, but properly prepared photographs. Don't worry, Mrs. Billups. You won't remember this until you die."

The glowing eyes flashed, and Andrea found herself sitting at her desk. Maude walked back to her seat, her photo in hand. Had she given a presentation? Andrea couldn't remember. She glanced around the room and saw four or five of the kids sporting bloody noses. The entire class noticed at that same moment, and all hell broke loose.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Novel Ideas

Coming up with ideas for a novel is different than coming up with them for short stories. Sure, the basic process is the same--ideas are all around us, and any can make a captivating story. Ideas for novels, however, need to be bigger. They need to be grand. That's not to say they necessarily need to be better than short story ideas (short story ideas can be just as good), but they need to be able to carry a story much further.

When I begin to choose which idea I want to use for my next novel project, I think through two things. First, is the idea enough to take me through 60,000 or so words if I'm writing a young adult novel (or 75,000 to 100,000 words if I'm tackling one tailored for adults)? Second, and possibly more important, is this an idea that I'm excited about and will still be excited about months down the road?

Let's look at that second question first. You will be working on this project for quite a while. The process usually takes me a minimum of six months (times will, of course, vary by author, but the entire process takes awhile). If the idea doesn't excite you at the beginning, chances are it will downright bore you before you even get halfway through your first draft. And that speaks nothing of the revision process, which, in my opinion, is the biggest part of writing a novel. If that original idea is not strong enough, you will probably rather tear your hear out than read through for revision again, and your story will no doubt suffer because of it.

Now back to the first point: picking an idea that is big enough for a novel-length work. At this point in the process, I don't write anything down. I take an idea that excites and intrigues me, and I think about things I can do with it. When I discover a neat thread that will make a good story, instead of jumping right into the process like I would with a short story, I continue expanding and dissecting the idea. Is there potential for great conflict? Is this a problem that will not have a simple solution (or if it does, will that simple solution be well guarded)? Is there enough potential emotion to fire up not only a protagonist, but an antagonist and various minor characters as well? Does this main idea lend itself to believable subplots? If I can answer yes to these questions, I know I have the makings of a novel, and I can take the first few baby steps in creating this story.

Next time I'll go through what those first steps are. Some people can dive right in once they have that initial workable idea, but I need to go through a bunch of pre-first draft exercises. Until then, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Writing Prompt #36

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!

You awake to find yourself strapped down in a torture chamber.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

#fridayflash--Dear Lover

Dear Lover
by Eric J. Krause

Dear Lover,

You don't know me. Not really. Not yet. But you've been on my mind, in my sight, for so long that I can't help but feel how intimate we should be. I've seen it in your eyes even when you don't see me. You don't love me, but you will.

I hope you realize this isn't about your looks. I could go on and on about those (and I have--the voices in my head know as much about you as me), but they're only skin deep. Not that that's a bad thing. I can and do watch you for hours--watch you change, watch you shower, watch you masturbate (that's my favorite), watch you sleep--but I enjoy myself much more when I listen to you. Your phone conversations perk up my day, and in person you always turn up the charm.

The only times I hate listening to you is when pain permeates your voice. It breaks my heart, especially since I know I'm the source of so much of it. But it's for your own good. Those guys never call you back, true, but not by their choice. Some of them even seem really nice. Those were the ones it hurt the most to dispose of. You'll be happy to know that I made their deaths as painless and quick as I could. I thought I owed you that.

So you can see you're not so unlucky in love. None of those guys were right for you, and plus you have me. Don't fret. One day I'll step forward. I'll treat you like the princess you truly are. I just ask that you never betray me, never disrespect me, never laugh at me, and never leave me. If you do, I'll still love you, but it will be your corpse I'm loving.

Then again, I may just pursue your corpse anyway. That way I'll never disappoint you, and you'll never disappoint me. We'll see how it works out.

Until then, know you're my everything. I'll be watching, listening. Always. You are my everything. My everything. And one day I'll be yours.

Eternally yours,

Your beloved

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Friday Flash

Almost every week I participate in a group called Friday Flash. If you are unfamiliar with this, in a nutshell, authors post a piece of flash fiction on their personal blog or website and promote it on Twitter (type in #fridayflash in the search bar at Twitter if you'd like to join in the fun). Through Friday Flash, there are a good number (usually 70 or more) stories to read each weekend. Not only is this a way to find entertaining reads, but it also promotes the authors involved.

This week I want to share how I participate in Friday Flash. I'm sure this is not a lot of variation out there in how authors participate, but since I often wonder how others handle the little things each week, I thought I'd show how my Friday Flash weekends typically progress. (If you're curious about how I write the flash fiction I use for Friday Flash, click here for that article.)

There are basically three stages to a Friday Flash weekend that I'd like to discuss: posting (and publicizing) a story, reading stories by other authors, and retweeting links to stories by other authors. I publish my story on Thursday night. This means I don't have to rush and worry about getting it done first thing in the morning, and I can catch those who read earlier than I get up on Friday morning. To publicize my story, on Friday I use Twitter three times--once when I wake up, once around lunch time, and once in the late afternoon or early evening. I cut it back to twice on Saturday--once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. On Sunday, I cut it back again to a single tweet in the morning. I also tweet it once on Monday, but that is more a thank you to everyone who commented on my story. I also post a thank you in the comment section of the story on my blog. (I love comments!)

When it comes to reading other stories, I make a point of reading and commenting on all stories by people who have commented on mine. If you've ever left me a comment without me doing the same for you, I sincerely apologize. Chances are I wasn't able to find your story via the Google bios on Blogger or on the weekly recap. Feel free to hit me with a reminder with a link if the weekend passes and I still haven't gotten to your story. I find most of my links to other writers stories through Twitter or Google Reader. I will always bring up that story and bookmark it, getting to as many as I can that weekend. Sometimes I get through all that I've bookmarked, and other times I don't. Depends on how much time I have to devote to the process each weekend.

The final part of the Friday Flash weekend that I'd like to discuss is retweeting links to other authors' stories. I have pretty strict rules for myself to both not clog up the Twitter feeds of my followers, and to not play favorites. I will retweet a story only after I've read it. I retweet it if I see the author tweeting their own story (I rarely, if ever, retweet retweets of others). I do my best to only retweet stories once. If I retweet a story twice, it means I couldn't remember if I've already done so, and I'm playing it on the safe side. I also do my best to add a comment to each one I retweet.

There you have it. That's how I participate in Friday Flash. It can be a lot of work to stay on top of so may stories each weekend, but it's worth it. The participants each week are not only great writers, but better people. I'm honored I've been accepted into the community. Until next time, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Writing Prompt #35

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!

No one remembers who you are.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

No Friday Flash This Week

No new Friday Flash for me this week, but I do have some fiction from me you can read.

The first is my book, The Friday Flash Stories of Eric J. Krause: Volume 1. This is my first fifty Friday Flash stories from August 2009 to August 2010. Click the link to go to Smashwords and download it for free. If you don't have an eReader, Smashwords will let you read it right on your computer.

The second is also free. These are some of my short stories that have been published in various places on the Internet. Go ahead and check it out (this'll take you to a link right here on my site). There are a few flash fiction stories in there, but also longer short stories.

The third is my eBook, The Breath of Life and Other Stories. Some of these twenty stories are available here on my blog (in the link above), but there are others you can only find in this book. This isn't free (it'll cost you 99 cents), but I hope you'll find it worth it. You can find it at Amazon for your Kindle or at Smashwords for any other eReader (or right on your computer).

I hope you enjoy some of my previously published fiction. I will be back next week with a brand spankin' new Friday Flash.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writing Flash Fiction

This past year, thanks to my participation in Friday Flash, I've penned a great number of flash fiction (stories less than 1000 words). For this reason, I think some might like to see my process when it comes to flash. As with all my articles, my goal isn't to tell you exactly what you need to do (every writer is different), but rather to show you how I create my stories. If this helps you, great; if not, at least you'll get a glimpse into my writing life. And what writer doesn't like a view of how others work?

Most of my flash fiction comes from writing prompts. I usually start by jotting down the prompt at the top of the page. Unless I'm caught by a wave of inspiration, I'll leave it and work on something else, letting the prompt mix with other ideas simmering in my subconscious. When I come back to the page a day or two later, I simply sit down and start writing. It often takes a few minutes for anything usable to flow, but once it does, watch out! The words fly onto the page fast and furiously.

If, on the other hand, I find the words barely trickling out, or worse, not at all, I'll start freewriting. It's a simple process--take a blank sheet of paper and bang out ideas about the story. I don't judge ideas at this point; I put them all down so they are visible. Later I can deem which are worthy to be expanded on. I'll also play "What if?" This works the same as freewriting. I'll ask myself questions about things in the story, usually starting with "what if..." and throw out multiple answers. When I get a few down, I'll decide which one I like best for that particular story. Sometimes that's enough to break the log jam in my brain, and other times I'll move onto a new question. Sooner or later, the story is ready to write.

Once I've finished the first draft, unless the story needs to go out soon, I'll let it sit for a day or two (or a week or two if I'm in no rush) before I revise. I rarely find my flash fiction stories need a major overhaul (I'd rather scrap the story and start another with the same idea instead of moving the pieces around), so I almost always just give them a few line-edit passes (however many I feel it takes before the story is ready). I write most of my flash fiction with pen and paper, but I usually edit them right on the computer (with the typing considered my first revision). Once I deem them ready, I'll send them off to an e-zine or magazine, or publish them on my blog for Friday Flash.

Next Wednesday, I'll talk about the nuts and bolts of how I participate in Friday Flash. I occasionally wonder what other participants do, so I figure other writers must have the same questions. Until next time, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Writing Prompt #34

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!

You find yourself in a never-ending hallway with countless doors.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

#FridayFlash--X Marks the Spot

X Marks the Spot
by Eric J. Krause

The cursor glided across the screen. He did his best to scan every bit, every pixel. Nothing, so he hit the "Enter" key, bringing up the next screen, the next bit of battlefield, and started the process again. This time he found an "X," and a quick mouse click shifted it to a "0." In the next few minutes, three more popped up, which he likewise eradicated.

"Good work, Private."

Jackson almost swallowed his gum in his haste to turn around and salute the general.

"At ease, Private. I don't want to break you out of your zone. You're doing good work. God's work."

"Thank you, sir." He saluted again, hesitated, and spun back to his screen, hopeful that's what the general wanted. He threw a glance to his right and saw his partner, O'Sullivan, doing everything he could to keep his eyes on his own station.

The general clapped Jackson twice on the shoulder. "Keep it up, Private, and there'll be plenty of promotions in your future."

"Thank you, sir." He found another "X" and obliterated it, hoping the general noticed. A slight chuckle proved he did.

"Carry on, men."

Once the general was gone, O'Sullivan stood and looked over at Jackson. "Dude, you're a stone-cold killer. Five in less than ten minutes." They'd been working side by side for over two weeks, and that was the most he'd ever said.

Jackson shrugged. "Just clicking the mouse."

"To you, maybe. Not to them."

"I'm not following."

O'Sullivan scoffed. "Rookies. They don't show that holo anymore. They just point you to a comp-station and tell you to find and click the "X's." If you only knew."

Jackson looked over his shoulder at the door.

"Don't worry. You hit your quota. You'll get a medal for that short ten minutes of work. It takes me a month to get that many, no matter how many I find." He reached into his pocket and flicked a tiny ball of paper under Jackson's chair. "Don't pick it up now. Wait until your shift is over. Then take it to a secured holo room, punch in the code, and get yourself an education."

O'Sullivan said no more. He went back to his screen. After a few seconds, Jackson did the same. At the end of his shift, he scooped up the discarded paper and headed for a holo. His stomach growled at not hitting the mess, but curiosity won out.

The holo accepted the code, and General Rackers, leader of Earth's Armed Forces, appeared. "Operation Smart Bomb is a go. We've finally found a signal that'll locate the mines, and a way to dispose of them. Our satellites x-ray the ground and send their findings back in a basic code. The enemy disrupts any other possible signal--one so simple must be below their worry. As for the disposal method, it's of a high cost, but it's the only way we've found effective. We'll beam a trooper to the exact spot our code monkeys back at base tell us. It costs one life per mine, but it's better than a whole platoon. Or more. We're working on alternative answers, but so far only a living, breathing human will do. Not even a synthetic robot or laser blasts from a war cruiser will work. For now, this is the best and only solution."

The holo shut off, and Jackson sat staring at the now-empty room, his appetite gone. He'd sent five men--five of his brothers--to their graves today. Not even their graves, considering there'd be nothing left after that explosion. Had it been the enemy, the Spacers, he'd have patted himself on the back. But not fellow humans. Not his brothers in arms.

He staggered towards his bunk room, trying to get his head around it. How could he go back tomorrow? How could he sentence more men to die? He ran the general's words over in his head and had his answer. One man rather than a hundred. Yeah. It wasn't fair, but it was what it was. War. It'd let him sleep at night. Maybe not that night, but soon.

As he neared his bunk room, he saw O'Sullivan ahead in the hall. He almost hailed him, but the other man made a show of ignoring him. Jackson could play that game, too. But as they passed, O'Sullivan whispered something that ruined Jackson's career as a code monkey.

"What if that mine would never have been tripped?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


If you're a writer, chances are you've been asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" I'm sure you have a stock answer, be it amusing, humble, or straight to the point. The truth is, though, that we get our ideas from anywhere and everywhere. Our ideas might come from something as big as an earth-shattering event, or as small as simply watching an ant cross a patch of sidewalk. Ideas themselves are cheap; it's what we, as writers, do with them that makes them great.

The purpose behind this article isn't to instruct you on how to spin your ideas into gold, but rather to show you what I do to foster my own into workable stories. If this ends up helping you, great! If not, at least you'll get an inner look at my process. As I've said before on this blog, writers tend to be quite voyeuristic when it comes to seeing how others write, so this should satisfy that portion of the population that reads this.

I don't often write my ideas down. Sure, I have a notebook to jot down those tidbits I think have the best potential, but for the most part, I let the many ideas I come across simmer in my subconscious. I do this because when I'm in the market for a new idea, those that are freshest in my mind are the most exciting, so there's no need to open my notebook to find inspiration (though it is nice to know it's there as a safety net if I need it.)

Often times I'll use a writing prompt to get a story off the ground. Sometimes too many ideas can be just as paralyzing as not enough, so these are great ways to get the pen moving on the paper (or fingers on the keyboard if you write like that). I usually find that those ideas bubbling around in my subconscious will latch onto the prompt, strengthening the potential story exponentially. But more on that next week, when I talk about how I write my flash fiction stories.

To recap, ideas are a dime a dozen. If you simply walk down the street, you'll find plenty if you're paying any sort of attention. I personally find that I don't need to write down most of my ideas--if I forget one, there will be plenty more to take its place. If I really like an idea, however, I will write it down in a notebook for later perusal. Writing prompts are also a way I've found to get a story started so those ideas in my subconscious can take over. I hope you enjoyed my look at ideas, and check back next Wednesday for an article on writing flash fiction. Until then, keep writing and/or reading.