Redeploying – Flash Bizarro Fiction

Photo by Jeremy Bishopon Unsplash

Holding on tight to my twin I went through the door into the redeployment machine.

Once we were all in and settled, the door shut with a click and the whooshing started. The vessel then started to spin. Slowly at first, then getting faster and faster.

As the vessel spun faster my twin fell away from me. I couldn’t hold on. I tried to find her as we started to spin, catching glimpses of her and then losing sight of her again. My only hope was she would be one of the chosen ones along with me.

We had been told in the holding bin that not all would make the promised land. Only a few of us each journey went to the higher place. The rest of us would have to carry on our daily jobs, ready for another attempt, later on.

The whooshing grew louder and then a bright flash of light and I was airborne.

Five minutes later I was laying looking up at the higher place. I had made it. Looking around I looked for my twin, she was nowhere to be seen. She hadn’t been selected. I could only hope she would get another opportunity later on.

I was free, to live in the higher place. I heard humans talking about what happened to the missing socks in washing machines. If only they knew.

How a Love of Reading Can Improve Your Writing.

Photo by Amy Velazquezon Unsplash

Reading like a writer is a valuable technique. Some of the most successful people in history have been voracious readers.

As a writer why would you not consult and study the work of others?

Recently I wrote a post — 5 Tips for Attracting More Readers with A Killer First Sentence. Since then I have become obsessed with studying first lines in everything I read. I even keep a notebook of first lines. Not just for those articles and books I love but, for the ones I have never finished.

I became addicted to reading at an early age. My earliest memories of my mum, involve her with a book in her hand. Whether she was reading to us or for her own pleasure, she always had a book. As children, we had monthly visits to the library and bookshops. These are some of my fondest memories.

In junior school, we had a visit from Nigel Hinton. He stated good authors see their books in their mind like a movie reel. I’m not strange, I thought, those movie’s running in my head are actually books fighting to get out. It was several years later when these actually made it onto paper.

Recently I have noticed that my reading styles have changed. I have become more analytical in everything I read. Here are my suggestions to help your reading improve your writing.

How to Read Like a Writer.

Increase your reading speed to devour more books.

  • To enable you to do this I would suggest you enjoy what you are reading. As you get better at reading you can tackle the classics with more skill.
  • Read using a medium that is comfortable for you. You can learn as much from reading a newspaper as you can from reading a novel. This is especially true if you want to be a journalist.
  • Read in a genre you are going to write. This has much more benefit than picking a book up because someone in a post told you to.
  • Practice, you will increase your reading speed.

Study Language

  • Look at how the author has built-in suspense.
  • How dialogue has been used to set a scene. I studied novels to work out how to lay out dialogue.
  • Look at how an article is started. In news how do the journalists ensure you have all the information you need in such a short word count. This is why it is essential to read in a genre you write.

Record Your Observations

  • The memory is a wonderful thing but, like a computer, it can only hold so much information. Read with a notebook beside you. I have a lovely softcover, moleskin notebook I carry with me everywhere.
  • Record phrases that moved you. Beautiful prose and of course first sentences. I have even on occasion recorded signs and menu’s that have inspired me.
  • Frequently I look back on these observations. Some may be the seed that starts an article or short story.

Finally

Reading has many benefits, a sense of escape and improving mental health are only two.

To a writer, reading should be your greatest resource.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things about all others: read a lot and write a lot. Stephen King

What books inspired you to write?

Heated Success – Flash Fiction

“A heap of empty test tubes” by chuttersnapon Unsplash

Robert monitored the thermometer. This time he was determined to take the mixture off at the right temperature. Dan, his laboratory partner and twin, stood beside him measuring out the next part of the substance.

Six months ago the pair had hit upon a revolutionary mixture. This formula was going to change their industry completely. The new formula had effects on its users that had only been dreamed of. Their discovery soon became common knowledge. All the big money men from the industry had flocked to secure these two young wizards.

Dan and Robert had a choice of who to work for and could demand whatever salary they wanted. They signed on to a company that offered them three times as much as most of their competitors. As a reward for signing they received a state of the art laboratory in any area they wanted. The twins chose a seaside town where they used to go as kids. Dymchurch was an idyllic seaside village where everyone knew each other’s names. Dymchurch provided them with two advantages. The twins felt at home there and the lack of nightlife minimised the distractions. The two fitted in immediately and started making some friends.

Everything was amazing for a couple of months and both young men felt on top of the world. Six months into their work and things had started to go wrong. The problem was no matter how hard the pair tried they could not completely repeat the mixture. Both had been so excited to perfect the mixture their record keeping had not been that thorough.

The businessmen ploughing money into the laboratory were starting to lose patience. If the twins didn’t have another breakthrough soon their adventure would be coming to an end.

“I have got it this time, Dan, I know I have,” Robert said. “This is it, here comes the money.”

“I bloody hope so bro,” Dan replied. “I don’t fancy having to pay back all the money for this laboratory.”

“No wait,” Robert replied. “We are nearly there.”

He carried on staring at the thermometer watching the mixture increase in temperature. Robert started to shake, one more degree and they were there. Robert was staring so hard at the thermometer his eyes started to water. The tears in his eyes were so bad that he didn’t notice the temperature shoot up until it exploded.

The local paper that week ran a tiny article about the brothers. On page two right at the bottom, was a tiny paragraph that stated. Gas leak in quiet seaside town found to be Meth lab.

5 Tips for Attracting More Readers With a Killer First Sentence.

In a society, with a short attention span, it is essential to get it right from the start. How do you draw people in to read what you have written? It is simple, you write a killer first line.

“An open notebook on a wooden surface in front of a laptop” by Nick Morrisonon Unsplash

When writing an article I spend as much time on the first line as I do on the headline. Both are essential to pull readers in. My first line is not always the first line I write. Sometimes I get into the writing and then revisit the first line.

Here are a couple of killer first lines from famous books.

I’m pretty much fucked.

Andy Weir, The Martian

If you have read the book or seen the film you pretty much know this line sums up the story.

I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeward that Truth is a better if imagination.

Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Now I have never read this book but after this first line, the book is on my wish list.

How do you write your killer first line?

  • If it fits in with the genre of your book, make your first line surprising and funny,

It was a pleasure to burn

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

  • Start in the middle of the action. Every event that happens from this point is the front story and should be in chronological order. Everything that happened before your first line is backstory and can be told in any order you want. Margaret Atwood’s, Handmaids Tale starts as the world is in turmoil. Everything that happened before this point is told as backstory.

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.

Stephen King, The Gunslinger

  • Start with dialogue that intrigues the reader. We do not need to know who the character is or even their name. If you start with witty quick dialogue the reader will want to find these things out and read on

I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old.

Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

  • Start with conflict, a situation where the reader does not know where the writing is going. How will the character get out of this situation? Where could this story be going?

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 100 Years of Solitude

  • Start with a provocative line that will have more than half the readers arguing with you. Be careful not to make this line so provocative that people refuse to read on. Make the line provocative enough for people to want to read on.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice

Finally

Recently I have become somewhat obsessed with first lines. When I read I analyse the first lines to see what drew me in. I also analyse books I didn’t finish to see what I didn’t like about their first lines. I keep a journal of first lines from books.

If you have read this far then I did OK with my first line. It is important to remember reading is subjective. What one person will love, another will hate. The only thing you can hope for is to appeal to more people than not.

Research your own favourite books and see what their first line is. Share with me through the comments some of your favourite first lines.

Ringing for Change – A Short Story

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As the alarm went off, Eve reached out and hit the snooze button. Ten more minutes she thought to herself. Ten more minutes before the normal, boring routine of her life started.

Eve knew how today would go. It would be exactly the same as the five previous years she had lived through. Get up, have a shower and get dressed. Go downstairs and put the coffee on, ready for Adam to wake up. Whilst the coffee percolates, wake up Tommy, help him get dressed, brush his teeth. Back downstairs to make breakfast for them both. At 0830 am both the men in her life would kiss her goodbye and leave. The day was then spent cooking, cleaning and washing. At 3 pm, pick Tommy up and help him with his homework. Adam came home at 5 pm, he normally grunted a hello to Eve. He ate his dinner and then sat semi-comatose watching TV until they went to bed.

Eve once again leaned over and turned the alarm off. Strange, Adam was not in bed. Eve couldn’t remember the last time Adam had been up before her. Going downstairs Eve went to put the coffee on.

There, standing in her kitchen was a 20-year-old, muscle-bound, naked, hunk.

‘Hey babe, you’re up late,’ the guy said, as he walked towards her, kissing her.

Eve heard herself say, ‘Scott, I told you I have a later meeting.’

Eve had no idea where this had come from or why she had said it.

As she sat drinking her coffee the rest of her life came to her like a showreel. Eve had fallen pregnant at 21, like her other life. After Tommy had been born she returned to work after 6 weeks. From there her career had flown, she was now managing director of her own HR company. Addicted to work, her family life had suffered. She was divorced at 25, Adam had gained custody of Tommy. Eve now saw Tommy once a month.

Eve knew she had to get ready for her 10 am meeting. Going into her wardrobe she looked at her expensive selection of clothes. Choosing a Chanel dress, a Prada handbag and Louboutin shoes, she yelled bye to Scott. She went into the garage, to her brand new Audi. Eve was starting to enjoy this dream life. Was this a dream life or was the other world a nightmare, she couldn’t work it out.

Without knowing how, Eve knew her way to work and her office. The meeting was long and boring. Eve, however, was starting to enjoy spending time with other people. For once, people listened to what she said and were interested in her opinions. A fancy lunch followed the meeting. Then another couple of meetings. Before she knew it her workday was finished, it was 8 pm. Home to hunky Scott and then out for an evening with friends.

This was how her life continued for the next week. Her last life started to fade into the background. After the first week Eve received her weekly phone call from Tommy. He sounded so distant to her. She tried to talk to him about common subjects she knew he loved. As his one-word answers mounted up, her heart began to break. She remembered her dream of being at home with him. The feeling of his little hand in hers on the way home from school.

Over the next week, the longing and loss became worse. Eve was continually tired and Scott was thick. He looked pretty but as far as debating current affairs with him, it was impossible. How she missed Adam’s quick mind and analytical thinking.

By the end of the third week, Eve was a tearful mess. She had been signed off with depression. Scott had moved out 3 days ago, luckily he had left an old tracksuit which Eve was now wearing. Her designer wardrobe didn’t accommodate slob clothing.

By the end of the fourth week, Eve had not washed or changed her clothes. She barely ate, instead she sat daydreaming about the wonderful dream she had a month ago. That night she’d had enough, she went to bed knowing that if she woke up tomorrow she would be ending her life.

The alarm clock woke Eve and she felt the depression settle on her like a black cloud. That’s when she heard the soft snoring coming from beside her. She looked over at the sleeping form of Adam and her heart skipped a beat. Without worrying about making coffee she threw herself at Adam.

Coming to, he enveloped her in his arms.

‘Hey, you, what’s wrong?’

‘Adam, I have had the worse dream,’ she sobbed resting her head on his chest. ‘I love you so much.’

‘I love you too, babe’ he answered.

At that moment Eve heard the tiny patter of feet as Tommy came running into the room. As he threw himself into his mum’s arms, tears rolled down Eve’s face. Adam leaned over and hugged her.

‘Baby, what is wrong? How about I take the day off and we go out on a nice family day?’ Adam said.

The day was amazing, the best day ever. Eve would never moan about a normal day again.