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Writing Stream Recap: Dreaming about pregnant Harry Potter

Last writing stream certainly brought out some, uh, creative stories!

We started off with a writing exercise where we got a random word, and used it as our topic (our word was “contact”). Then we get five more random words and had to use them at some point in the story. Because nothing quite gets the creative juices flowing like having to connect seemingly-unrelated ideas.

After writing three different opening sentences and the chat picking the one they liked best, this is what I wrote (bolded words are the random words).

Writing Stream Recap: The worst date you’ve ever been on

I recently read the short story “Cat Person” in the New Yorker that has been getting a lot of attention online. It’s rare for a short short to go viral; anything that’s not a Twitter post, YouTube video, or Facebook image usually has no chance, so it’s great to see an interest in the medium spark up.

Since the story is more or less about a really bad date/relationship, it inspired the theme for our recent writing stream: what’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?

We started off with a fun exercise: get a sentence from a random sentence generator (yes they exist and they’re awesome), and then write a story about a date starting with that random sentence. We wrote for 10 minutes or so, and then we got another random sentence, which would become our ending sentence, forcing us to somehow complete the story toward it.

It was tough, but thanks to some suggestions from the chat, I liked where we ended up. You can read the story below:

Writing Stream Recap: Random-word tyrants, time-swapping bodies, and Nicholas Cage

Good times were had during our latest writing stream. We started off with a fun exercise: we used a random word generator to get 10 random words, and then we wrote a story using them as the first word in each sentence. Because that’s how great writing gets done.

The words were: construct, announcement, arrange, suffer, ladder, constitution, audience, sweat, like.

I somehow ended up writing what seems like a speech made by a crazed dictator. Funny how… that happens? Read it here in all its glory:

Keiko – Good Stories Drawn Badly Ep. 01

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to show off my terrible MS Paint skills. The last chance I had was with a series at RocketNews24 called Learn Japanese through Ridiculous Manga. It was a lot of fun to create, but ultimately didn’t result in enough views/interest to justify the incredible amount of time I had to put into it every week.

But recently, about a year later, I thought about once again breaking out the old mouse and MS Paint canvas to draw something new. I’ve always been a fan of stories with illustrations, so I thought why not illustrate one of my short stories?

I started with Keiko, the shortest of my published stories, to try it out. It took a long time to draw, record and edit, but it was fun, so maybe I’ll do it again with another story in the future.

So if you like good stories that are drawn badly, check it out here on YouTube!

Weekend Review: “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang

As a fan of linguistic-fiction (and you should totally read my story Devilese plug plug plug), I get excited every time I see a new entry into the genre. So when I heard about the upcoming movie Arrival where a linguist cracks an alien species’ language, I was sold from the get-go.

Here’s the teaser trailer for the film if you haven’t seen it yet:

And best of all, Arrival is based on a short story – “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. Once I found that out I immediately read the whole thing, and I have to say it was one of the best short stories I’ve read… ever.

Masterpiece Monday: Oh For “The Love of God”

As you do when you’re a struggling writer, every week I write and submit short stories by the barrel to any online magazine that doesn’t shut its virtual door in my face. And when you’re checking out the online magazines to see if they cater to your kind of genre (I like to dabble in the lesser-known genres of Horribly-Written and Needs-Improvement), you get to read a lot of stories – some of which are pretty good.

This week I’d like to share a short excerpt from a story I read while peeking around the magazine Nimrod International Journal for Prose and Poetry. The story is from the current (Summer/Spring 2016) volume, and the title is “The Love of God” by Laura Jok.

It’s about two teenage girls who go to a summer Catholic retreat, one less willingly than the other. The two girls are going off to college together as roommates when summer is over, and here’s the conversation they have after the narrator failed to wake up her friend when she overslept:

“You sleep like a dead person,” I told her in the afternoon. “She is risen!”
“Is this how it’s going to be in the fall? Are you going to let me sleep through my college exams and stuff?”
“Exams, yes. Stuff, no.”
“I mean it. Can I count on you to wake me in the future?”
“Sista, iamb yore roommate knot chore keeper.”

That last sentence put a huge smile on my face when I read it. It’s a rare feat to express sarcasm and mockery in writing without it coming off as awkward or forced, but Laura Jok pulls it off perfectly here. The intentionally misspellings – which conveniently double as “fancy-sounding” words – let you hear the narrator’s mocking, fake-polite tone in your head as clearly as if she were making fun of you to your face.

It would’ve been so much more boring if the author had simply gone instead with “Sister, I am your roommate not your keeper.” Sure it would get the point across, but there would be no spice or life to it, and it certainly wouldn’t help create a memorable scene. This is a great example of taking a generic interaction, and then cracking it open like an egg with added detail to reveal the colorful (and delicious!) insides.

Click here to read the rest of “The Love of God,” and here to see more of Nimrod magazine. We’ll be back to looking at Harry Potter next Monday with a section that’s so good, it tells you. See you then!

(Featured image via GAHAG, edited by me)