4 Stories in 26 Days

Everybody likes charts and graphs, right? Well I just finished with Camp NaNo today, a whole five days before the deadline even!

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This NaNo win was brought to you by a heaping helping of Earl Grey, Green Tea, and Oreos. Er, probably too many oreos in fact.

 

For this month I decided to try to write four short stories in a month, at around 5,000 words per story, or roughly 5,000 words a week. For somebody who usually spends a lot more time to squeak out a story, this was a challenge. The theme: all weird horror tales. It was actually a ton of fun too.

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Here are the stats on each story, and a short blurb on what they were about.

Just Too Sweet

Basically all about the dangers of ordering weird stuff online, especially edible weird stuff. Ultimately I’m hoping to try this over at Weird Ales, but it’s going to need some cleaning up first. Here are the stats though (courtesy of Writer’s Trail which I believe is still in Beta).

CampNano_TooSweet_ChartIt was the first story I did, and I kept up a pretty good pace on it for the most part. At this point I was still very much on track!

Lonely Road

The premise I used here was: what if a woman gave you a baby and told you to keep it safe? Only you find out that it isn’t the woman’s baby, and in fact she stole it from someone else? Our poor college student protagonist is put into a very uncomfortable situation.

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I was able to keep a good pace during this piece too for the most part. As luck would have it, I was feeling pretty confident up to this point as well. Two stories down, two to go – what could possibly go wrong? Then story #3 came along…

Thirteen Crows

I knew I was going to have problems with this story to begin with. On an earlier post, I talked about the kind of research I needed to do when I was writing these stories, and this one was more difficult emotionally. I’m a bird-watcher and a geek about wildlife in general, so having to find out all the ways that people catch and control crows was a painful process. It certainly gave me new appreciation for the variety of birds that thrive in my backyard. Ironically the inspiration for this story came from the comments of a Cornell Lab article, which strives to educate bird lovers on things like feeder placement, bird house construction, etc. So you can imagine the uproar when someone described the best way to catch house sparrows and snap their necks…

Anyway, this inspired this difficult to write weird horror story, and send me down paths on the internet that I would normally avoid. Of course, they do say it’s good to try to get out of your comfort zone occasionally in your writing, so I feel like I succeeded there.

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You see how little I eked out on those days? Three hundred here, only a measly hundred there… it was like the words just didn’t want to come!

My protagonist in this piece is a jerk, and it was so hard to write about him to begin with. I’m still not entirely pleased with how he’s turned out in places, and I’m certain I’ll need to do some heavy editing down the road, but at least it’s finished. You can certainly see the way it took off toward the end as the suspense mounted, but it was an uphill battle getting there.

The Mirror

Of all the stories that I wrote this month, this one I kind of considered my baby. I talked about what inspired back in my research post, but I’ve been bouncing ideas around on this tale for quite some time and it shows. Basically it’s about a teacher who loses a student in a mirror, and she has to get him back.

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I wrote this in a whopping two days. I still don’t quite know how I did it. I can’t tell you the last time I wrote almost 5,000 words in one day, but I was floored that I was able to do it on a short story. The weird world that this feeds from is based on a place in an in-progress novel, so I felt like I had a lot of it already worked out in my head. I felt like I had a good amount of background to work from on the complex antagonist of the tale, which made the words slide along. Plus describing the creatures in this piece were crazy fun. Either way, I’m stoked that this was the tale I got to end on. If I had Thirteen Birds as my final story, I doubt I would have NaNo completed so early.

 

Needless to say, a lot of these titles will be changed before publication, and a lot of the numbers will change, but I thought you all would enjoy seeing the awesome word production (or less-than-awesome) over the past few weeks. I’m not ready to start shipping stories around yet, but I’ve got high hopes for this set. Here’s hoping I still feel so good about them when I pull out my editing chainsaw. 😉

Creepy NaNo Research

Camp NaNo is off to a great start, even if I am a thousand words behind right now. This month I’m working on writing four short stories, all weird horror pieces. I wrote back in March about some story ideas that I had, but looking back on them, I haven’t used a single one. That said, all of these had a loose to detailed outline to go along with them. I’ll give their tentative titles below and a bit of research I had to do for each of them.

  • Just Too Sweet – Not much research had to be done here, cause I already had a good understanding of beer, Twitter, and apartment complexes. 😉
  • The Odd House – Now this one needed quite a bit of research. I needed to know the name of a particular Interstate, I-16, that runs from Macon, GA down to Savannah, GA. I’ve had to drive this a couple of times, and running over 80 miles long with hardly any exits or rest stops, it definitely feels long, especially if you already have a lot of asphalt behind you. I’ve never had to drive this stretch of road late at night by myself, but I would give anyone who did plenty of respect. With the endless trees on either side of the two-lane road, I imagine your mind could get to you.
    I-16_Map

    I-16

    Another fun aspect of this story was finding some fun inspiration. This one especially caught my eye and the mood of my story. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any ownership info on it though.

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    Really, it just wants hugs.

  • The Thirteenth Crow – This one hasn’t been written quite yet. I’ll be starting on it tomorrow morning, and it was certainly one of the more difficult stories to research. Not that it was difficult to find information on this, but it was difficult for me personally as a bird-lover.

    Yep, that's a crow trap.

    Yep, that’s a crow trap.

  • The Masked King’s Dance – I’ll admit, this was completely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s The Trap, which I heard about from the HP Podcraft podcast (which is freaking awesome if you haven’t heard). Admittedly it isn’t a very good story, but the premise just really got my creative juices flowing. So many of Lovecraft’s stories do though. 🙂

 

So there are my plans so far! I’ve got some catching up to do still, but I doubt I’m the only one. With a total monthly goal of 20k words, I think it’s completely do-able.

A Weird April

So this is happening next month.

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I know, I know, I have a ton of things on my to-edit list right now, including a YA Horror novel, a YA Fantasy novel and a werewolf novella, but the story ideas just keep coming. Plus there are some fabulous story prompts showing up on Duotrope lately. I’m limiting myself to 20,000 words this Camp, and am hoping to churn out 4 short stories at around 5,000 words each.

Here’s a peek at what I’ll be working on:

  • The Traveler
    • Detective Harris (from Mysterious Disappearance of Charlene Kerringer) investigates missing children in town. Police are coming up empty handed and since he’s got a reputation for being particularly good at finding missing kids, parents come to him for help.
    • Upon investigating he learns that the kids are being used in some sort of ritual, and worse yet, it appears to be working. Things turn bizarre pretty quickly after that. It’s a good thing Harris is getting used to that sort of thing.
  • TBD Weird Ales
    • Based on WEIRD ALES call for submission
    • I’ve got a few ideas bouncing around at the moment, some involving hair, some involving the psyche, but all of it is sure to be strange and unusual. Don’t want to commit to anything quite yet though.
  • The Woodcutter
    • After dozing off in the woods, a woman seeks shelter from a downpour in a nearby Woodcutter’s home.
    • Although the Woodcutter is out of the house, something old and angry is waiting for her to return. The woman is mistaken for the Woodcutter and has to think fast to survive.
  • TBD Wild Things
    • Based on WILD THINGS call for submission
    • What can I say? I really love their prompts for these anthologies! I need to steer clear of werewolves for this one, which is probably good for me. Leaning toward using a Deer Woman, but I’m still tossing ideas around for this one.

It looks like it’s going to be a weird April for me, and I’m okay with that. I’ve never written so many short stories so quickly though, so I’m a bit anxious at the same time. Guess this means I need to sit down and do some planning & outlining in the next couple of weeks. I always feel better going in with a plan.