Thursday, August 2, 2007

The rest of the Booty story

31 days in July - 31 posts.
1 day gone by in August - Zip, Nada, Zilch from me.

But the good news is I hammered out another chapter of Plundered Booty last night. I'm up to seven thousand words on the novel.

So to finish the thoughts from the last post. How am I going to make the story ten times it's original length? Now back in grade school I would have added word count something like this.

I like Rum very, very much. Especially the very, very extremely tasty Vanilla and coconut variety.

But I doubt the word very would take me VERY far with agents. So here is my list of tactics.

1) Slow down- I feel like my greatest weakness when it comes to short stories is that I tend to slip into the telling mode rather than showing. I'm sure my fellow writers know what I mean but since more and more of the readers are not writers I'll give you a fifty cent example.

Telling- Joe-Bob was mad. He doesn't like me.
Showing- Joe-Bob slammed the door behind him as he stomped into the garage and said, " I knew you would be in here sitting on your lazy ass." Disgust on his face he harked up a loogie from deep in his chest and spit right in my eye.

The second example gives the reader the exact same impression in a much more colorful and disgusting way. this is an extreme example but I would say fifty percent of the added length will come from slowing the story down. The trick will be to do this in a way that remains interesting and funny. Filler for the sake of filler is never a good idea.

2)Characterization- Both the short story and the novel are told from a single first person perspective. In the short story I concentrated solely on his, The Captain, and Junior's, The Captain's boss, character traits. Sure I mentioned others, but I didn't have the time or space to devote many details. A reader will get a much better picture of the secondary characters in the full length piece.

3)Added Scenes and conflicts- For the short I stuck mostly to the car dealership where Captain works. For the novel I am creating an entire town, Red Dirt, Oklahoma. The place is chocked full of imaginary restaurants where the reader will get to know the Captain's wife, all of her. I only hinted at the deficiencies of their marriage int eh short but like a bad Jerry Springer episode I will expose all for the novel. And then there are the conflicts between the salesmen at the dealership.

Hope this answered your question Terrie.

By the way this is post number 99. That means I will be drawing and announcing the winner of the grand prize game very soon. Like Saturday. Remember every comments gives you one entry, so between now and Saturday throw in your two cents worth on any post between the one linked above and this one. July 10th to the present if you prefer to go by the dates.

Last time I posted a short excerpt from Plundered Booty- The Novel, so here is a bit from the original short story. Let me know what you think.

Junior had his arm across her shoulder. His right hand dangled mere inches from … from … what words can I use to describe the thin red fabric of her shirt … or the tightness of said fabric. Or my resentment at seeing Junior’s hand so close.
“Those can’t be real,” Dave said just loud enough for me and Rex to hear.

“Who cares,” Rex answered his eyes still transfixed on Eva. “Three quarters of the lakes are man-made. That doesn’t mean I don’t wanna fish their waters.”

Junior and Eva disappeared into his office.

That body, those clothes, her confident demeanor. They should have been my warning sign,
Dangerous Curve Ahead. But those eyes. They made me hit the gas. They made me go in too fast. They made me plummet off the edge.


Angie said...

I LOLed right here:

“Three quarters of the lakes are man-made. That doesn’t mean I don’t wanna fish their waters.”

Just thought you'd like to know. :D

About stretching a story out, yeah, I had to work on that when I did NaNo last year. :/ I'd been working in short story mode for the last few years (a lot of the stories I'd posted were actually under a thousand words) and was having a hard time switching gears into novel mode. The whole approach is different and it can be tough to change over.

One thing that worked for me was adding sub-plots, although the trick there is to make them significant to the main plot. Rather than padding out what you have (although the methods you've described do add value rather than just bulk) adding some new problems, complications or sub-goals to mess up your protag's life just a little bit more can stretch things out nicely.


Katrina said...

Okay Travis,

Aside from todays post--I want to know if the post office has any openings in your department? I believe it's a dream job for a writer. I'm noticing the times you post your stories: 12:00pm(I'll give you this one since it might be lunch), 4:07pm, 3:38pm,2:28pm,1:30pm,5:35pm(I'll give you this one too) and 10:01AM. Just wondering where I can sign up?

Travis Erwin said...

Shhh Katrina, you never know when a supervisor might be lurking around.

alternatefish said...

what if...

alternatefish said...

...I post...

alternatefish said...

like this?

does that count as three entries? :)

alternatefish said...

I laughed at the same place Angie did, and also at the "Dangerous Curve Ahead."

your writing is sharp. I haven't quite figured out what I mean by that, but I stand by the statement. sharp.

(four) :)

Monnik said...

I liked the man made lake comment too, as well as your Joe-Bob hawking a loogie.

Good stuff. And it's a good illustration to wannabe writers like myself. :)

alex keto said...

Well, Travis, I had my doubts about whether the guy you described as angry really was angry until I got to the part about hocking a loogie and spitting in the guys eye. Yeah, that sounds hostile alright.

On a more serious note, why worry about word count? There are long short stories and there are short novellas.

Whatever you wind up with, someone has written a story of the same length before and slapped a label on it. If I recall, "The Great Gatsby" is short and so is "The Old Man and the Sea."

If you get bogged down, what about upping the stakes? I suppose the guy that winds up ripped off can't be too pleased, neither is the FBI.

In your short story, you don't say how the captain gets to Cayman Brac.

Aaron said...

"Three quarters of the lakes are man-made. That doesn’t mean I don’t wanna fish their waters."

Hysterical! :D

Duck said...

Watch out that you don't make it too long. We don't want it to turn out like Tolkien's long-winded "the hobbits are STILL wandering around on their way to Mordor, with nary a bit of waybread" stuff. Now, I love me some LOTR, but some of those could have used a bit more editing.

Chunks said...

Great line about the lakes!

Anonymous said...

I must comment.

Joe-Bob is mad...

Nice tight writing...LOL

You do a fantastic job of showing us how to show and not tell. Just don't give them too much booty on your posts.

And get back to work.


Terrie Farley Moran said...

Thanks, Travis.

I do get it. You are taking the people and the story and giving the reader a lot more of each with bonuses on the side.

In the excerpt in this post I really like that you give an enticing (from a guy's view ) physical description of the woman but then say that it was her eyes that "made me hit the gas."

Great way to show what's inside the woman with out her saying a thing.


Anonymous said...

I have to say it: I told you so! Look how many comments just a paragraph of Plundered Booty has gotten...oh yeah, I forgot: you're bribing people with the contest. Doesn't matter -- Plundered Booty is a treasure chest just waiting for you.(I'm claiming your success a direct result of taking my class.)KEEP WRITING!