An interesting question following some very useful feedback.

Hello

I recently decided to put my short story ‘Do I have parents at all?’, which is about a 114 year old immortal man living in modern day Manchester, England trying to find his true calling, onto the writing feedback website www.critquecircle.com. The idea of this wonderful piece of the internet is that you have to critique other authors work to gain credits. These credits can then be used to buy a place for your story to be critiqued on their website. It’s a simple idea that has given me a lot of useful feedback over the years and has allowed me to read some brilliant prose as well. And my latest venture into the critique circle world has carried on this trend.

A reviewer by the name of ‘Fergie’ (Who is Scottish and is a brilliant name for obvious Manchester United related reasons) decided to read my little tale and provide feedback. Amongst the many things he provided was a closing comment about how he was unsure whether or not he would buy my story if it came to his attention on a book shop shelf. ‘Fergie’ was unsure in its current form if he would buy it.

This got me thinking about how important the first line of a story is and also how important the first page can be as well. If I was looking to buy a book I would read the first page and look at the synopsis before deciding to buy it so I asked myself, is the first page of my story eye catching enough to be bought?

I have to be honest and say I don’t think it is. It could be better. And using ‘Fergie’s’ and other’s feedback I hope to make it good enough. With this in mind…

What do you think? Here is the first page only of my short story and all I want to know is would you buy the rest of my story after reading it? Either way I would really appreciate your feedback. Thank you in advance if you decide to read and comment on it. If not, have a good week in whatever it is you end up doing. Bye!

I have walked the Earth for one hundred and fifteen years but the questions still remain. Where is the First? We should have some kind of connection should we not? Why am I here? Do I have parents at all?

Waking up on the ground of a forest is as much as I can ever remember about my birth. Which is more than anybody else I am sure. That first year is fragmented but there is enough to piece together the story. My story. The story of my birth or my…come now brain, let us do this dance again it may help this time around.

I am born into existence and I grow, develop, and so on until eventually I am found by that rich family and raised for a while until I age too fast and spend the rest of my first year between families. Next comes another year living with various well-meaning poor families who all end up abandoning me but, with reluctant thanks to the rich, I am prepared. By this point, I am the equivalent of a ten year old boy and I find an orphanage and live there for a year through threats and the bending the owner’s superstitious beliefs.

And so, after three actual years upon the Earth and I look fifteen. Each year equals five years until I am thirty, and then I stop growing. I just stop. But why? I travel, I learn, I earn, I frighten, as the anger builds within me and I continue to ask myself why? But remember Henry, take the best parts from life and forget the rest. You promised to stop doing this to yourself! Distraction. It is an overcast Saturday night and I will use it to take my mind off things. Manchester is the best place I know. The streets and buildings are drenched in history. I love how new and at the same time old the whole place looks and feels. The night is starting to get into full swing with people everywhere and I find myself walking inside a bar I do not recall the name of and I do not care to check. I just wish I had a friend I could share this with though I made my peace with that years ago. I will live, I always do.

“Same again?” I forget his name.

“Yes please. Thank you.” I wish these two drunken men would move from the bar. You have your drinks so why are you still here? It is time for the old nudge and move technique. I am glad I committed to the gym all those years ago.

“Hey Handsome, why do you get preferential treatment?” Handsome? Wait…I know that look. She is just after a drink. Women. I have given up trying to work them out. Some say handsome, some say ugly. I do remember one young lady telling me that my light stubble and blue eyes complimented my slightly square jaw and that I must keep my hair short and messy as tall men do not suit long hair. Of all the things I have heard why do I remember what women say about me the most? “Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes. Sorry I got distracted. My girlfriend should be here any moment.” And she is gone. I must stay focused. I cannot fall behind on my schedule. I am sure the First is in Manchester. But how can I be sure? How is it possible that I have not found him, or her, after all of this time?

And…I didn’t enter the competition after all.

Hello

So, it’s been a month or so since my last post. It could and probably should not have taken me this long to post again but here we are. After I posted on 06.06.15, I was getting geared up for a holiday to New York! For any of you who have been there I’m sure you can understand why I would be preoccupied. I went away with my two good friends Paul and Leigh for 10 nights and it was amazing. I’ll blog and brag about it another day. But for now…

The competition I was going to enter, http://www.britishfantasysociety.org/the-bfs-short-story-competition-2015/, was to close for entries on 30.06.15. Now, I was well on my way to finishing the edit for my story when the edit decided to get bigger. And then I told my girlfriend about the story and she brought up two points which I thought I had covered but as it turned out I hadn’t covered them well enough.

With all this in mind I decided not to enter the competition after all.

I did not come to this decision lightly. I knew that if I entered a story I wasn’t happy with it would have annoyed me for a daft amount of time. I will instead complete the edit and post the story in two parts on this blog and maybe www.critiquecircle.com for some more feedback. If you would like a summary of the story, please go to the following link https://johnrsermon.com/2015/06/06/finally-one-of-my-plans-is-working/ and seek out the third paragraph of that post and a summary shall be yours!

When I got back from New York! I allowed myself a few days to recover before I started writing again. When I did start again I decided to just work on my newest short story. Now, I considered starting back on the edit but the story had been rolling around in my head every time I tried to go to sleep while I was on holiday in New York! So, when I got back I wanted to try and take a full break from that so I can continue the edit with a fresh(ish) pair of eyes later on. I’ve kept up with the coming home from work and writing deal and the short story is swimming along nicely. Although, I have introduced eight more characters but I’m building the story so all is in hand. Hopefully. I will start back on my edit next week and look to change from edit to writing. Writing to editing. Week after week. And see where it takes me.

Ok. That’s me for now. I hope you all have a good week of writing and whatever else you decide to do.

Bye

The Training and the Writing combined.

Hello again,

My training for the Manchester 10k run on Sunday 10th May (https://www.greatrun.org/great-manchester-run) is going very well. I’m quietly confident I can improve on my time from last year of 54mins. I also have the added incentive that if I don’t beat my friend then I have buy him a trophy. I think this has made me run just that little bit faster considering I know how he can pull these things out of the bag. I don’t think he’s done a lot of running recently but I bet his best run ever will be on Sunday. Here’s hoping my training will pay off.

Along with my training, I’ve been moving along with my writing and editing.

I’ve taken up walking to work to help pay for a holiday to New York, which is at the end of June. This ends up leaving me, after walking to and from work at a total of 100 minutes, with the overwhelming sense of ‘can’t be arsed’ mode when I get home. I’m moving myself, albeit at a slow pace, away from this and have been editing and writing whilst tired. I was worried that my tiredness would make me write and/or edit below my own standard and I’d have to do it all over again. Meaning I’ve wasted my time. But my editing is coming along well. I’ve got till the end of June but I’m hoping to get it done by the end of May and get my story entered into the http://www.britishfantasysociety.org/the-bfs-short-story-competition-2015/.

My current story that I’m writing has also been moving along nicely and I’ve written my first action scene. Now, you must understand that as I huge fan of westerns I am almost always dreaming up of shoot outs and action sequences based in that genre. But somehow, when I came to write my first ever shoot out, it’s was something completely new. Something I have never thought of before. And something I am now quite proud of. I have always thought the way a cowboy would introduce himself in a film or book would be in his first shoot out. Showing the world, or in this case the small town, exactly what he is made of when it came down to defending himself. In my hero’s first gun fight he’s defending the honour of a horse and in turn standing up for the whole town, who have wanted to do such a thing for years. A henchman to the main villain, named Bronco, is scaring a horse by shooting at its legs. Cue our hero to save the day by showing him exactly how good of a shot he is. This is first act that will set up the rest of the story. I’m looking to push the pace faster and faster from here and build up to an almighty showdown involving everyone who is able to fire a gun in the town. I may even include the women. It could turn into the western equivalent of a Royal Rumble or a Battle Royal. Or possibly Battle Royale? I’m not sure. But as always I’ll keep you informed.

Right, all this talk of progress is making me hungry. To write and eat. So…

Good bye!

From lost to found.

Hello

In my last post I had lost my notes to go along with the story I’m editing for the 5000 word story competition www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk are holding. Now, I had given up all hope of finding the elusive note book/pad/chunk of paper that had all the notes I had made for said story. But, as I got home from work one day, satchel rubbing against my shoulder as it had done for the whole 50 minute walk, I threw it off myself and onto the kitchen side and proceeded to go through my usual routine. I took everything out that I needed for the remainder of the evening, wallet, iPod, lip balm and keys, before chucking the bag under the stairs. My evening carried on well enough but then, as I was walking to the bin of all places in my kitchen, I remembered. I have one more note pad! Oh satchel, how I like thee quite a lot. Turns out the notes I needed had been coming with me to and from work since for ages ago.

Though I’m not sure I’m happy I found them.

The notes have been useful. My story is about a group of immortal men and women who have struggled, one since the dawn of time, to comprehend their existence. The notes I had made cleared up exactly why, initially anyway before rewrites, the immortals are around and when and how they were born. Now that I know this, I don’t think I want to use my notes any more. Though they scream at me from one floor down, under the stairs, like Harry Potter having a nightmare, I’m useful! I am not to be ignored! Well, he may have screamed that at some point. You never know. I’m going to leave them where they are until I need them. I have finished my first edit and I now know that I’ll need to shuffle the story and add more things in. I’ll end up making a whole new set of notes I can smell it.

And another thing that has happened since I last posted. Whilst writing my latest story, a western that was initially about a guy who wanders from town to town doing whatever he wants but in an anti-hero kind of a way without saying to many words (remind you anyone?) has changed a lot since I first came up with it. He’s speaking a lot more and has already been shocked to his core by the first person he meets in his latest town of call. I’m writing this story without notes and thankfully it hasn’t held me back. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

Okay. Well, as much as I love writing this post and all that, my back hurts so I’m going to bed.

Night Night and thanks for reading.

The loss of notes for a finished story and the lack of notes for a new one.

Hello

So, I’ve been working my way through the first edit for the story I’m going enter into the 5000 word competition at www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk. I got into the habit a few years ago of writing stories down instead of keeping them in my head and waiting for a competition to present itself so I could use it. What if such a thing never happened? Anyway, I wrote down one such idea and it will be my entry into the aforementioned comp. The story centres on a man with a special gift that he does not know and has yet to discover why it is in fact special and why he has the gift in the first place. He takes drastic measures to try and find answers when a random crime happens in front of him and gives him an idea. Will the idea help him or will it be his down fall?

I’m not sure yet to be honest. So far my hero is following along with a new friends plan for world domination in the quite literal sense. I’ve already spotted a few changes I’d like to make to my story so I’m sure that will be fun chopping and changing stuff to get them in (yawn) This story had been floating around in my skull for years until I committed it to paper and made plenty of notes to back it up with. But, after years of it just sitting on my laptop and waiting to be edited (sad face) it finally got its wish.

And now I cannot find the smeggin notes I made. None of the bloody things. Not one single chuffin word. I’ve checked my high number of note pads and books and nothing. Goose egg none. This does mean I’ll have to remember it all again but this may be a good thing. Possibly. I’ll let you know how I get on.

With this loss of notes I decided to try something different. I decided to write another story, this time a western, and only make notes as I went along. I can only makes notes as I write with any plot points and such being created along the way. I’m not sure how this will work out but so far I have given my hero, currently named Benedict, a back story involving his parents and possible the reason why he is going to do…whatever it is he is going to do. In truth, I have plenty of ideas knocking about but so I’ll either use them for something else or throw them all in at once for this new story. May god have mercy on my soul.

Well, thank you for reading and I’ll see next time.

Bye

That’s time travel done with. What’s next?

Hello

I’ve finished my time travel story! I managed to answer all the questions I had rolling around in my head about it and then come up with two possible endings for it. And now I’ve moved onto another project.

Okay. Picture the scene. I’m typing furiously and marching my way to the end of my story. The hero and villain are engaged in a battle of wills for the fate of the country. As I was writing it I wasn’t really sure where the ending would come from. I had a vague idea but I always prefer it when the ending naturally presents itself. And then two endings did. Great. Another question to answer. Which ending to pick? The happy one, which in itself leaves the reader (or it should anyway) wondering whether our hero has made his decision for the right or wrong reasons, or the apocalyptic one, where everything goes to hell in a hand basket.

I have to say I’ve never been so worked up about the ending to one of my stories in my life. I felt like I was going to tear up when I thought about my apocalyptic ending, which is brought on by an unexpected event. Should I go down the sad route? I thought over and over again. But then I realised that I didn’t really like that ending. Hell, I really didn’t like it and I didn’t think it fitted well with the story. So, I went with the happy one, which leaves unanswered questions. I always prefer books and films that leave you to discuss its ending with others till the end of time rather than have it spoon fed to me. I did write the apocalyptic ending out as well and I’m even more convinced I picked the right one. If ever gets published I’m sure I’ll be proved wrong.

Anyway, once this was done I decided to enter a competition. I had found one but misread the deadline date and it was the end of May 2014. Not 2015. Well done eagle eye. Although it didn’t take me long to find another short story competition to enter. And I can use an already written story for it as well! So now I’m back to editing. Again. Like always. The competition is the British Fantasy Society Short Story comp at www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk. 5,000 words and for any type of fantasy. Wish me luck.

Okay. Have a good week and do good things and all that.

Bye!

Time travel and moral ambiguity. Obviously?

Hello

With my last post in mind I am still no closer to knowing what I would do if I knew when and how I was going to die. And no one else does either considering I didn’t get an answer to the question I posed last time. Yeah, I’m sticking with that for the reason why nobody answered it. I’ll sleep better if I do.

Anyway, I closer to the end of my sci-fi story. Well at least I think I am.

My hero Arthur had just woken up on the day of his death and was about to put his plan in motion. He did just that and it all went exactly as he wanted it to. But only if you forget about the explosive reaction of a certain someone within the government. That someone was watching him all the time and kidnapped him and took him to his lair. Makes my villain sound like the claw or something. He might be? I’ve taken Arthur to his final show down with the villain of the piece and I am enjoying writing it. I have said in the past that I mostly enjoy writing battle scenes but battles of will’s between hero and villain are actually pretty cool to construct in themselves as well.

So how did I end up having to develop moral ambiguity within my story?

This did creep up on me I have to say. I’m about half way through the ending of the story and my hero is faced with a problem. Should he let the government head honcho continue ruling as a secret dictator, which has made the UK very wealthy, or stop him completely and thus restoring the UK population to its free and sometimes reckless self. I’m not sure which way he should go. On the one hand my hero, who is only just beginning to live life the way he wants to after years of slogging away for seemingly nothing, could rule the UK and become an even further behind the scenes dictator of a dictator. On the other hand he could destroy said dictator along with the government and put the UK into potential chaos, but it would be a chaos that could lead to a better future without being pushed down by an iron fist the public currently don’t know anything about.

I got to this point all on my own and then I read a wonderful article by Alex Davis in the February edition of Writing Magazine that concerned character-building. There is a section about moral ambiguity that I seem to have covered all on my own. Though I have opened myself up to asking more questions and making sure I’ve got it right. I may even have to rewrite parts of the story so it will flow.

And with that in mind I’m going to go away and try and answer them. Once my story is finished I’ll post parts of it on here for your eyes to peruse. Or not. Your choice of course.

Bye Bye