I recently undertook the challenge of writing a sequel to Charles Dickens’ classic story, “A Christmas Carol”. You may think that writing a short story revisiting some of the best known characters in English literature would be quite simple, but this has been the most challenging story I’ve ever written.
(You can read and download this story from the Internet Archive!)
Before I explain why, I need to give you some background on why I started this project. Writing sequels to classic literature isn’t exactly common for me, someone who hasn’t ever written so much as a piece of fan fiction. (I tried once, couldn’t get past page two, and scrapped the whole thing.) I will admit, I’ve made up plenty of “fan fiction”, but it has never escaped my head onto the page. It’s just not something I care to put on paper.
The trouble is, I had a dream – one of those really awesome dreams that you wake up from and think “that would make a really cool book!” Of course, given fifteen minutes of daylight and a cup of coffee, the dream starts to look rather insane, and you decide not to describe it to your editor.
by Jason C. McDonald
Lefty McCorsky was quite possibly the best pitcher in minor league baseball. In fact, he might be the best pitcher in the history of baseball altogether, but none of the statisticians were ever present at our games to prove it.
As popular legend has it around here, before a batter has a chance to react to one of Lefty’s pitches, his curveball has already come around and smacked them in the back of the head.
Lefty was really the only redeeming element of our local team, the Thompsonville Pluckers. We didn’t have any stats on our team because, as it turns out, a zero-win record makes for difficult number crunching. Apparently you can’t divide by zero – at least, according to the local bookkeeper, the only person in Thompsonville to remember anything from math past basic multiplication. Of course, there are the rumors that he’s just avoiding doing the math, because he’s part owner of the team, and looking at the numbers depresses him.
Skills aside, we were a baseball town. You could find us in the stands every Friday night. The hot peanuts were worth the humiliation of our perfect losing record, and anyway, there wasn’t much else to do on a Friday night.
Your story is brilliant. You just know it! It has great plot, well-rounded characters, and your readers can’t put it down.
Or rather, that will be true, once you can actually get your story written. You’re stuck on chapter three, right where you were six months ago.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Chapter 3 is not some random spot for this tar pit (though it occasionally shows up earlier). It’s a fairly common place. I often tell young writers, “The first three chapters are easy.” Why is that? (more…)
One of my greatest delights is in coaching young writers. The funny thing about it is, I think they teach me more than I teach them, whether directly or indirectly. I’ve had the privilege of coaching my dear sister, Katelyn, in developing her God given talent for writing (something I really can’t take any credit for). Nowadays, I take major cues from her in our writing. I’m proud to consider her a peer in story craft.
Currently, I’m working with Ryan, on an unusual side project that involves quite a bit of fiction writing. It has been exciting to watch his writing style grow, even in the past few months, and I’ve had so much fun crafting our co-writing project with him.
Today, in talking to him, however, I noticed something about my own writing that I had never spotted before. And I think it reveals a pretty cool truth about this craft – the stories we write are a mirror of our own personal stories.
I wrote this story today after walking 2.5 miles. I passed a woman walking her dogs, traded greetings, and then thought to myself “What if someone fell in love like that?”.
by Jason C. McDonald
Whether or not June 23rd is too late to start a New Year’s Resolution was beyond the point. I was going to speed-walk three miles a day if it killed me. I spent six to eight hours a day clattering out computer code at the office, and an hour lunch break didn’t afford me any more time than it took to walk down to the little café a block away.
So, with the knowledge that my brief daily commute had bad traffic about three times a year, I decided I’d start getting up an hour earlier, skip the Today Show, and start walking before work. As I dragged myself out of bed that first day, I mulled over possible motivations to torture myself like this every single day.
A mile and a half into my brisk walk, I found one walking on the other side of the road, at the corner of Baldwin and West. She was about five foot eight, with long chestnut brown hair and a pink exercise outfit.