Thursday, January 24, 2019

That Scene

Image (c) Free-Photos via Pixabay
I joined a writer's group once. We all sat around a small apartment living room and read excerpts of our work. After I read mine the room was silent for a few moments before a woman stated simply, "I'm scared." I never went back and shelved the story - which was supposed to be a romance. Since then the story of this experience has come up a few times and others have asked to read it. I have decided to share it here and you can let me know your thoughts in the comments.

WARNING: The scene is intended to be intense and it may be uncomfortable for some people.

Waking Up

My head hurts. My head really hurts. I inhale deeply and immediately regret it. My chest burns and every other part of me aches. I lie still on the firm mattress and try to remember what I did last night.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

I growl at the sound and taste the tackiness of my dry mouth. I open my eyes slowly to a dark room and try to focus my eyes. The darkness combines with the blurriness to make a swirling pattern on the ceiling. I blink a few times but my vision is shades of black on blurry black.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

I'm going to kill whoever thought it was a good idea to set an alarm this early. I try to ignore the noise but the rhythm won't stop.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

My chest continues to burn and my head throb. I haven't felt this bad since my foster brothers threw me down the stairs. But this seems worse somehow. Every bone in my chest somehow feels broken.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

The sound is coming from my left but I don't want to move my head.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Maybe if I throw it off the nightstand? I reach out and wince as my hand hits something metal. Instinctively, I yank my hand back towards my body. Panic swells as I feel a soft cuff along my wrist, restricting my movement. I pull the other hand but it's also restrained. I keep pulling on the restraints in a futile effort to break free.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

I try to ignore the torturous beeping. I lie still and strain to hear anything. The room is silent. Not just quiet, but silent except for the beeping. I can feel the pain in my chest worsening as it tightens. I swallow my scream, not wanting to draw attention. I close my eyes and take several breaths, trying to calm myself down. I just need to think. I need a way out.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

I open my eyes again. I still can't focus very well but I try anyway. I can make out green lights to my left but I can't determine what they are. The contrast of the glowing lights in the darkened room hurts my eyes so I look to my right. Nothing. It's just unfocused darkness. Where am I?

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

I try to sit up but the pain in my chest sends out radiating streams of agony which knock me back onto the bed. What the hell happened to me? I close my eyes again as I try to deal with the pain. What do I do now? I can't see. Even if I wasn't restrained I don't think I could get up. What do I do?

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

I feel a tear slide down my face. Oh, no. I'm not going to cry. I pull at my restraints wanting to remove the evidence of my panic. I put all my energy into trying to free my hands until the pain and exhaustion overtake me. I lie still allowing the noise and pain to engulf me.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Fatapiller by Shaun Bunting

Fatapiller is the story of a caterpillar who finds himself in danger and has to come up with a way to save himself. The artwork is beautifully drawn and I loved the cadence of the story. The story is designed for young readers with a lyrical quality to the text similar to Dr. Suess.

While I love the style of the drawings, some of the images are awkward. The caterpillar is drawn larger than the gecko which emphasizes not only that the caterpillar shouldn't be afraid of the gecko eating as the gecko is 1/3 of the size of the caterpillar, but also that the caterpillar is named "Fatapillar". Additionally, the caterpillar solves his problems my convincing the gecko to let him eat more which eventually allows him to change into a butterfly (a Fatafly). In short, the lesson is that if you are fat you can solve your problems by eating more.

The author has a real talent for storytelling and the artwork is beautiful. I didn't like the theme of the story.

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Short Note about Novellas

Novellas a are a novel idea but they are often misused or misidentified making readers frustrated. Generally speaking, a novella is longer than a short story but shorter than a full novel. This is the only thing that people seem to agree on about them. Some sources say that a novella is 7,500 to 40,000 words, other sources list a novella as 30,000 to 60,000 words. Some of the confusion is that there is no concrete rule about how long a novel is. 

The general rule is that short stories are less than 7,500 words while novels are generally 80,000 to 90,000 words (according to Writer's Digest).  This does not take into consideration things like YA novels which tend to run shorter (averaging 55,000 to 80,000 words) or Sci-fi and Fantasy which tends to run longer (averaging 100,000 to 115,000). The fluidness of what defines the length of a novel only adds to the confusion of how to define the length of a novella. 

Copyright Writer's Digest
The use of novellas is also something that few authors seem to agree on. When novellas were first introduced they were stand-alone stories and published as an anthology of work by a single author. Today some are stand-alone works, while others are prequels or connector books between different series. Regardless of the style, they can be published as an anthology by several authors and focused on a central theme, or as a single work. Unscrupulous authors will publish novellas and advertise them as full novels, often putting snippets of other work behind the novella or short story in a practice referred to as book stuffing. 

Novellas are not generally as complex as a full novel because of their smaller size. The smaller word count means that there is less space for multiple points of view, complex plots, and other literary devices. The story is more straightforward and to the point. This is part of what makes them attractive as a way to add a tangent story which ties into an existing series or for an after the fact prequel. The short and straightforward format has also become popular for authors who are trying to link reader's from one series to another. I am not personally a fan of this type of usage although it has more to do with stories themselves than the format. 

Do you prefer novellas or novels? Let me know in the comments.