Tag Archives: short stories

Short Story #5

11 Jul

Personal Taste

“There’s always that moment, early in the morning, where I want nothing to do with the coming sun and everything to do with the blankets wrapped around me. I’m not an introvert. I’m not even depressed. I just like my own company that much. Narcissist? Nah. Well, maybe. I prefer, “Self-Expert,” or, “Curator of Personal Tastes.” I know. I know how buzz-wordy that sounds, but hey. Who can cater my likings better than, well, me? Some pricey girl that looks great on my arm, but can’t flip an omelet? No. Some less pricey personal chef who flips omelets with his eyes closed, but won’t do a photo op with me (and why would I want him on my arm?)? No. And don’t get me wrong. I didn’t mean pricey like a whore. Excuse me. Prostitute. I simply meant high maintenance. I digress. My point is that I am my own best company, and in the dull blue of pre-dawn, I am my only company. After that, my corner of the world wakes up to join me in competing to find out who’s best at what. What they don’t realize is that I already know that I’m the best… They don’t know me. They don’t try to know me. They just assume what they’ve got is the best of that particular thing, or that what they think I should do is really what I should do. So, no, I am not a narcissist. I just know what I like, and it happens to be me.”

John straightened his tie and blinked at the now-speechless reporter. The camera men stopped filming and a few crew wandered off.

“Now what?”

“Wouldn’t you know best, John?” the reporter quipped.

Self-Editing Tip #4

8 Jul

The Em Dash—The Em Dash is the “giant hyphen” of the punctuation world. Many don’t realize that the hyphen is not the proper way to add commentary/editorial information into sentences. The example below shows the common mistake of using a hyphen rather than an Em Dash for this aside-type statement.

Ex. What is most important- especially for those not accustomed to certain exercise equipment -is that enthusiasm is not replaced with recklessness.

The sentence above is not incorrect in terms of syntax, semantics, or cohesion. The only thing that needs fixing are those pesky little hyphens. To create an Em Dash, type the first phrase and two hyphens. Leave no space between the words and the hyphens and no space between the two hyphens. Type the commentary phrase without adding a space after the hyphens. At the end of the commentary phrase, type two more hyphens with no spaces just like the first set. Most word processing programs will automatically turn your two hyphens into Em dashes. If it does not, you can select an Em Dash by going to the Insert tab of Microsoft Word, selecting Symbol, More Symbols, and then Special Characters. You can also use the shortcut key phrase Alt+Ctrl+Num or set your own shortcut key. The sentence in its corrected form is below:

Ex. What is most important—especially for those not accustomed to certain exercise equipment—is that enthusiasm is not replaced with recklessness.

Self-Editing Tip #3

5 Jul

Redundancy, Reiteration, and Repetition—there’s a critical difference between making sure your message is purposefully apparent in every facet of your work (reiteration) and restating that message verbatim at every opportunity until it gets in the reader’s way or insults their intelligence (redundancy).

Whether you write in a technical capacity like web content and print materials (think client-targeted brochures, newsletters, mailers, etc.) or creatively for pleasure, reiteration is important. You want your readers to know what you’re about. Keep like items or topics together to avoid redundant menu labeling, but feel free to creatively reiterate important info when necessary.

Consider this situation:

You are the writer for your company’s website. There are ten tabs on the site menu, each leading to different groups of information. All of that information still relates back to the same central theme, idea, product, whatever. As the writer, you nod toward that unifying topic on each page in some way. This is good. After all, what if page seven of ten is the only page a particular client visits? What if page four of ten is the one that shows up in a Google search? The customer may look at that page only when coming to your site. Prepare for the possibility and probability that any individual page on your site is the only page your reader sees. Are they going to know what your company is all about?

However, and I cannot stress this enough, copying your mission statement, slogan, company motto, sales pitch, etc. verbatim on each page is not the way to make sure that reader gets the message. Remember how I said you must consider that they may only see one out of ten pages? They might also see all ten. So if you’ve been redundant instead of informative, find a way to rephrase that enables you to stay true to your purpose without insulting your reader’s intelligence.

Another effective way to make sure your reader gets the whole message is to encourage your audience to take a look at the rest of your site (or any other publication). Give them an incentive, give them motivation, and give them something to look forward to. Every writer must decide for herself what those incentives, motivations, and exciting features will be. For some, it might be giveaways and contests. For others, it might simply be good-natured or humorous instruction to do so. Consider your niche and your audience when deciding. Not every method will work for every reader or writer. Also, give readers easy navigation to those additional pages; i.e. Back to Top buttons, Home Page link on every page, sentences with links to other pages written in.

Let’s diverge, now. Did you notice what I did up there? “Give them an incentive, give them motivation, and give them something to look forward to.” That’s neither redundancy, nor reiteration. That is repetition. In this instance, it is also an example of isocolon—the repetition of entire grammatical structures within a sentence. You can reuse entire grammatical structures consecutively in order to create emphasis on an idea. This is a great technique for all writing. If you take the time to say something more than once in the same sentence or paragraph, most readers will realize it is something important.

Just remember, these three concepts are not the same as summarizing. For long academic or technical documents in which a final culmination of ideas is necessary for reader understanding, restating the message in a condensed way is almost always an appropriate means of wrapping up.

For more tips on web content, technical writing, and editing for business documents, check out Mike Markel’s book Technical Communication 9th edition or newer.

Need writing inspiration? Generate a list of random words and try to use them all in a short story or poem.

4 Jul

http://listofrandomwords.com/index.cfm?blist

Short #4

2 Jul

Worthwhile Travel

Smog, fog, rain—Ellen thought of it as her cozy blanket for years. It kept her delightfully secluded even when surrounded by people. “Alone together.” That’s how she’d described city life in one of her calls home. After she finally broke away from her childhood town, it never occurred to Ellen that there was any place else for her. Why would she leave the comforting urban canopy of carcinogens and clouds?

Apparently, “Because I said so,” still worked. When Ellen’s mother called to tell her that Pops passed, she preemptively refused all invitation home. Ellen found herself on a jet, a puddle jumper, and then a bus back Snoreville anyway. The bus stopped in front of the law office where Ellen was destined. The corner where the office and the pharmacy met the main road was the only bus stop. No special treatment.

The welcome from her family was stiff and forced.

As her family filed out of the office, the lawyer grabbed Ellen’s shoulder. “The will instructed me to give you this envelope privately. Go to his old place and open it somewhere peaceful.”

“Oh, Ok.” She stuffed it into her purse.

The bewildered look on her face must have been severe because the lawyer went out in a hurry.

In the breeze and sunshine of her grandfather’s land, she opened the envelope and read:

The address to my safety deposit box is on the back of this page with the password you’ll need to access it. Go. Get the money. It’s yours. You’ve got the courage and love the rest of this family is missing. That part of you always stays the same. Use the money for the rest of your surgeries. Ignore what the family says. It’s your body. I love you, Alvin. Ellen.

-Pops

Short #3

1 Jul

Necessary Attire

She was missing a glove. The young lady of the house was frantic, clutching at her naked arm. As petty as this might seem in summer months, it was actually quite the scandal. When the search began, the house maids scurried more like mice than ladies upending baskets of linens, disheveling neatly made beds, and tossing tasseled pillows into the floors of carriages. From the balcony of the manse, the man of the house, her father, shouted at the help to hurry their searching. After all, a lady without her glove may as well have been a pauper or a common whore. The lady could not leave without it—that pair passed down from lady to lady of the family through generations. Wearing them spoke of dignity, station, and propriety, and of a continuity of physical self that balanced the inconstancy of mind and spirit for which women were so known. As such, she just could not depart without that glove. Oh, and did I mention the hand, member of the glove’s safe, modest keeping, was also missing? From the wrist down to be exact…

I need your opinion…

1 Jul

I’m thinking that posting a new short to the Shorts Project page daily may not be the most effective way to get reads and feedback for the individual stories. After all, when someone likes the page, I don’t know which story in particular made them like it. The downside I originally saw to posting the shorts one-by-one directly on the blog front is that over time they will scroll down and out of view. Having them there would allow individual likes and comments for stories, though, which is important to me. I really value feedback. So, what would you do? Keep them on a separate page, put them on the main page, or put them on the main page and also keep the Shorts Project page running as a collective archive of the stories? I’m leaning toward choice C.

In the mean time, there’s a new short on the Shorts Page.
Thanks Guys

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