Tag Archives: short story

The Struggle to Pick a Format for a Story Idea

Last year, I was most fortunate in having enough blog content ready to post, that I could afford myself a little time to pursue other creative writing opportunities. There have been several ideas for fictional stories swirling around in my head lately, and committing them to paper (before I forget them) was becoming increasingly important as plot twists and defining moments in conversation were routinely popping into my head.

What seems to be a continuing trend, whether writing for my blog or for a fictional piece, is that I don’t seem to have a linear process of writing a story from beginning to end. It starts with glimmers of ideas that spawn other ideas that, over time, can be organized into an outline which then leads to the development of the background and context to connect those ideas.

It’s not pretty and makes writing a bit of a puzzle, but if directors can shoot movies out of sequence, why can’t a writer write out of sequence. In the end, the process of reassembling and organizing the sections can be just as much fun. Thankfully, technology makes that part so much easier.

However, for my fictional material, a new struggle emerged. As much as my little writer’s voice has been very enthusiastic about spreading its wings and committing creative material to paper, it has also been subject to some analysis paralysis.

The question that keeps coming up: What is this story? Is it a novel? Is it a short story? Is it a play? Is it a screenplay? Is it a movie? Is it a series?

I can’t tell you how many times this question rambles in the back of my mind when I am stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Continue reading

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The First Time My Own Writing Gave Me Palpitations

Regular readers will recall that I put the blog on autopilot in early summer, finalizing several blog posts at once, to offer me some free time to spread my wings and try some other creative writing projects.

It didn’t take long for me to sink my teeth into fiction. I guess ideas had been simmering long enough that putting words to paper came quite easily.

For one story in particular, I already knew my main characters and the main source of tension between them. I started committing those to paper.

What started with a few ideas soon became an outline. Then I rounded up the index cards I filled out over the last weeks related to this story and started typing ideas into their respective places.

What I loved was that I could keep the story up on my computer screen, walk away to put a load of laundry in the machine, come back and add a few sentences, entertain the cat a bit, come back and add a few more sentences, do the dishes, add another couple of ideas. Momentum was building and I was already enjoying the creative writing process.

I’d be lying if I said this particular story was a complete work of fiction. There are a few threads to the story that are inspired from my own life, but only a few people will know which is which.

Well into the process of engineering the flow of tension and conflict, I wrote a first draft of a heated conversation between two characters. For this dialogue, I tapped into something deep in my soul, loosely based on something I experienced personally.

In no way does the conflict in the story line resemble anything I’ve ever experienced, but whether someone is angry about life, people or circumstances, anger is anger. It’s universal and can motivate some very impassioned reactions in any of us.

As I was deeply into the writing zone, almost on autopilot myself, the words and associated emotions poured out of me. The exchange between the two characters flowed seamlessly.

The interaction seemed so natural. In some ways, I was not only creating a moment, I was living in it. The strength of conviction and motivation behind the dialogue was unlike anything I had written before.

When I finished typing out the conversation that concluded with one character storming out of a fictional room, the creative bubble around me faded as I returned to reality. In that moment, I noticed that my heart was racing, my breathing was fast and shallow and I felt beads of sweat on my forehead.

I was having palpitations! … over something I just wrote! Who knew that was even possible?

Instantly, this experience became one of those moments as a writer that I will never forget. At this point I didn’t care whether this piece made it to print or not. The fact that I was able to dig that deeply as if I was in the room with the two characters was a huge rush. The fact that it was able to elicit such a strong response felt like a huge emotional welcome into the creative writing world.

I was overjoyed! I was thrilled! I was euphoric!

If this is what it means to be a writer, then I want a lifetime membership! An experience like this makes it all worth it.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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My First Writing Competition

In working through some of my blog posts in the last years, there have been times when I would look at a final draft of a post and then think to myself that it was pretty good, but for some reason it didn’t quite fit with the overall theme of my blog. Rather than rethink the piece, I would just put it on the shelf and maybe the right time and place to post it would find me.

A few months ago, such an opportunity presented itself when I started receiving emails about the annual Writer’s Digest Short Story Writing Competition. I thought that this might be an opportunity to pick up one of those shelved stories and fine-tune it for the purposes of the competition.

With that decision made, in the days that followed, it was with great enthusiasm that I would come home from work, speed through dinner and rush to my desk to chip away at the story, several times per week. The writing competition definitely stoked my enthusiasm for writing again.

While I have never had delusions of grandeur about my skills as a writer, confidence was running high as the themes of the story were current, relevant and would definitely resonate with certain readers. To achieve that, I dug deeply (veeeeeeryy deeeeeeeply) for the material, breaking open some old wounds. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Misc blogs, Writing

When Money Talks

Shopping CartsIt was a quiet Friday night at the grocery store, picking up the essentials for the week ahead, when I spotted it on the floor, peeping out from behind the rack of discounted fruit. A five dollar bill!

As human nature would suggest, I took a look around, as if somehow the link between this five dollar bill and anyone in the store would be immediately obvious. The store was a ghost town. There was almost no one to be found.

I took another look around, this time to see if anyone else saw it. Clearly there was no risk of anyone swooping in to collect it.

Normally, when it comes to picking up a coin off a sidewalk, I wouldn’t think twice or look twice to locate an owner. I would just do it. But this case seemed different. Maybe it was because it was private property. But what hit me the strongest was the fact that it was five dollars, not five cents.

As these thoughts were blazing through my mind and the ensuing analysis of whether to pick it up or not, I’m not sure if the fumes from my recent oven cleaning had anything to do with it, but I could have sworn the five dollar bill said “Psst… Psst… André! Not meant for you!”

I took another look around to see if anyone else heard that, but again, the nearest customers were either squeezing the Charmin or inquiring about whether they stocked Grey Poupon. I looked down again and considered what the five dollar bill was saying. Continue reading

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The Fear of the Truant Officer… Even at Age 51

police-carsA couple of weeks ago, I had an errand that needed urgent attention, but trying to deal with it outside of work hours would have meant long line-ups. While it may have seemed like a no-brainer to most people, after 35 years of riding the bus, it still is not second nature to me to think that I can jump into my car and to run an errand at lunch time!

As I was driving around, I don’t know why but I had this feeling deep down inside that I was doing something wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems like a throwback to my primary school days when leaving school grounds was a no-no.

Picture it… Ottawa… 1974… two boys are playing in the schoolyard and one them tells the other, “Come on, I do it all the time. I’ve never been caught”. The faux-pas in question was the idea of leaving the school grounds to go to the convenience store to buy some candy. Of course I was the boy who needed a lot of convincing, as disobeying orders from authority figures was not second nature to me.

Let’s face it, having grown up as an only child, I could never get away with blaming a brother, a sister or a pet if something got broken. Even if I could attempt to blame the imaginary friend or just simply shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t know”, I was a horrible liar anyway. Between Mom’s glare that would extract the truth out of me without trying too hard, combined with the prospect of “wait til your father comes home”, the skills required for bluffing never became part of my wiring.

After much coaxing and the fact that recess was ticking away from my analysis paralysis, I decided to join him. Continue reading

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Preparing for the Repair Guy

A couple of months ago, I was off for a few days to take care of some home maintenance. The first day, I was expecting a windows guy to come over to inspect (and hopefully re-insulate) a recently-installed window as cold air was seemingly seeping through. On the second day, the insulation in my attic was getting topped up. Let’s face it, finding drafts and eradicating them is a key deliverable in the job description of being a middle-aged man.

The weekend prior, I did what anyone would do before anyone comes over. I cleaned the house. The error of my ways became evident when my partner pointed out, “Won’t you need to clean up AFTER they have done their work?”

He was right though. Why is it that when tradespeople are coming over, I clean the house to the same extent as I would if I was entertaining guests?

Hmmm… Lightbulb moment!

The fact is that anytime someone is coming to fix or check something in the house, I will make the extra effort to clear furniture out of the way in order to give them lots of room to work, as well as to ensure that there are no breakables within proximity for them to worry about. To me it just makes common sense and helps them to do a better job if they aren’t worrying about “stuff” surrounding them.

But in the process of pulling furniture out of the way, I might possibly reveal dust bunnies lurking in places that aren’t usually in the vacuum cleaner’s path over the course of regular housecleaning. I can’t leave those there… so out comes the vacuum cleaner.

And when I pulled out the furniture, it appeared that I had left a little scuff on the wall, so out came the microfibre cleaning cloths and my trusty all-purpose cleaner.

Of course, once you have one corner of the room spruced up and neat as a pin, you can’t just leave the rest of the room undone. Continue reading

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