Fiction Writing – Excerpt

August 7, 2009

After reading some writing books, I’ve started making an effort to write at least one page a day. So far I’ve been pretty successful. Once I start writing usually I end up with a short story in draft form. Here is the introductory paragraph from a short story called, Arachnophobia, that I completed a couple of days ago. Now for the editing and submission process. Word count on this one is 980.

tarantula“Bobby Drux was afraid of spiders. Ever since he remembered this was part of his psyche. Other kids found out and teased him. Whenever they caught one, it was put in his desk at school or his backpack. They laughed as he ran screaming at the sight of the little creatures. That was then, but now even though he was an adult, the fear remained.”

excerpt from “Arachnophobia” by Steve B. Davis

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Book Review: The Writer’s Little Helper

July 31, 2009

LittleWritingBookCoverThe Writer’s Little Helper is the best reference on writing I’ve found. It’s the one book I carry everywhere with me. 

The author James V. Smith, Jr.has published more than a dozen novels. His more recent material is published under the pen name John Harriman.  His objective in the book is to give the technical aspects of writing fiction to readers wanting to write a bestseller. In his words he wants to inspire, answer technical questions, and provide tools to assist the writer. 

The size of the book makes it easy to tote along. It’s 5 x 7 1/2″ and about an inch thick. 

By the way the subtitle is, “Everything you need to know to write better and get published”. There is no doubt in my mind I’m a better writer for reading and using this book. It can be read start to finish or just to focus on areas for improvement in your writing. The reading is easy and straight to the point. He uses excellent examples to illustrate. The book is an easy read. I hate books that use long-winded verbage to illustrate a simple point. 

The entire spectrum of writing is covered from ideas to publishing. Some examples include character, point of view, plot, editing, dialogue, creativity, beginnings and ends, and everything related. If you read this book you will learn something, be inspired, and have fun writing. I highly recommend it. 

The books publishing details are: 

The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr., F+W Publications, Inc. (Writer’s Digest Books), 2006, ISBN 13: 978-158297-422-4


“Oxymoron” for Writers

June 17, 2009

oxymoron-799173Definition of “Oxymoron” 

A figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear side by side.

 

 

Some of my favorite examples:

open secret                           pretty ugly
free love                                 military intelligence
extinct life                             working holiday
freezer burn                           silent scream
near miss                                crash landing
taped live                               peacekeeper missile
old news                                 original copies

The following quote is one of the most famous usages of oxymorons of all time to writers. At the very least it’s an excellent illustration of how this device can be used in prose.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . .,”

 Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.


What About Those Old 35mm Slides

May 14, 2009
Color Film and Slide Scanner

Color Film and Slide Scanner

My father took most of his photos in the 1950’s and 60’s as color slides. Now the slides are getting old, but still many interesting subjects on them  besides the usual family photos. The construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the mid to late 1950’s for example. Our family lived in Iroquois, Ontario right on the St. Lawrence River during those years.

Recently in an effort to preserve the photos and make them easier to work with and view I purchased a slide scanner. This tool is fantastic. Takes only about 3 seconds per slide and saves into a .JPG (JPEG) graphic file. You can then put them on CD-ROM or DVD or your computer to edit and view. A slide show can be created that you can view on the TV or computer. Film can also be scanned with the same unit.

Now I have no financial interest in the company that makes this unit, but if you are interested go to,

http://www.wolverinedata.com

For a writer like me this is a great tool. I can use a lot of my old slides and Dad’s to write articles and have photos available.


Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry

April 23, 2009

leavingcheyennecover-l-mcmurtrayLately I’ve been doing lots of reading. I’m especially interested in reading those authors who focus on character and setting.

I just finished “Leaving Cheyenne” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Larry McMurtry. He wrote “Lonesone Dove” for which he won the Pulitzer for fiction. You may remember it was transformed into the great TV mini-series some years ago starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.

In this his second novel, he tells the tale of three unlikely western heroes. Gideon Fry, a serious rancher; Johnny McCloud, the free-spirited cowboy; and the woman they both love, Molly Taylor.

She loves them both and being independent refuses to marry either one of them. Tragedy follows them as their lives intertwine. The story plus the characters made me want to find out what happens to them. The reader cares deeply about them. Dialogue is used to great effect to advance the plot and define the character traits of each of them.

The tale is set in West Texas around the turn of the twentieth century. McMurtry is so adept at description he doesn’t have to go into long detail. Short but very sweet is an apt way of describing the result.

An extremely satisfying read by a truly great author. As a writer I was thinking “oh to write like this”.


Turning Sixty: Flash Fiction

April 20, 2009

Jake sat in the park people-watching and daydreaming. He had an inner sadness he couldn’t seem to shake.  His sixtieth birthday was tomorrow. What hit him was how fast the years had gone by and how few years remained. If he was lucky he’d have another twenty or twenty-five years.

Life so far had been a series of ups and downs, highs and lows.

He’d married, had kids, got divorced, and lived the single-life again, much to his dismay.

Somehow he’d lucked out and found another woman to love and put up with him. He married again, this time a much younger woman. He had kids again. He was happy, but his life was slipping away. Then the birthday jumped up to rouse his fears.

He found himself thinking more and more of his own inevitable death. He’d watched his father die. During the subsequent funeral his thoughts drifted to his demise and his own funeral. Death threatened and loomed. Religion told him death was not to be feared. It was the end of one life and the start of a new one.

Deep in his gut he believed death was the end. After all what made humans different from other life forms. When you die you cease to exist. The body decays and returns to the earth. When you’re dead, you’re dead.

He only hoped his wife and kids remembered him as a good man, but a man none the less. One who had good qualities, and also who had faults.

He visualized his funeral. The mourners came to pay respects, visit, and talk about him.

His body was lowered into the grave. Family and friends shed some tears, and then returned to the problems of everyday life. His mortal remains lay in the coffin in the cold ground. A headstone marked his final resting place. Maybe his wife and kids would come to visit his grave, and maybe not. He hoped they would come and find solace, especially his children.

Yells and squeals of delight shook him from the melancholy place he’d been. His wife and kids came running into the park. Arms of love surrounded him. Life was good, at least for now. Death was shunted aside until its inescapable return.

Steve B. Davis, 2009


First Feature Article Published

March 11, 2009
102cover

Saltscapes, Mar/Apr 2009

A bit of a brag today. I just had my first feature article published in a mainstream magazine. I’m previously published in hobby magazines, but this is the first non-philatelic article published for me. It’s very satisfying to see one’s hard work in print. I say hard work, but in actuality it was fun for me.

The magazine is Saltscapes, March/April 2009 Issue. This is a lifestyle magazine published in Bedford, Nova Scotia. The photo is of the cover of the current issue. The editor, Heather White, was fantastic to work with. She really believed in the article. The title of the article and it’s description is,

“The Invisible Immigrants: One Home Child’s Story”

“Like many immigrants, home children came to Canada to bave a better life. They left a legacy, but not necessarily a history. Here is one home child’s story.”

The magazine’s website is,  www.saltscapes.com

So now it’s back to work on the writing to have more articles published. Thank goodness I seem to have lots of ideas.


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