If you have 5 minutes:
please read JIMMY'S GIRL FRIEND, my most popular and favorite story. 99% enjoyed this story. (word count 1,469)
please read LIFE OF CHARLES, my newest mystery. It should make you feel good. (word count 1,555)
Please feel free to leave your comments after each story. If you enjoyed either story then read the other, too.
I always clickLIKEwhen I read a story because Booksie remembers if I have read the story before or not. Also, it encourages Booksie authors!
CRIME STORIES - Short Stories
If you have 12 minutes, please read RESPITE BEFORE BREAK UP a tale of intimate treachery (word count 4,832).
If you have 19 minutes, please read SAVING BONITA, emotionally intense mystery (word count 8,970).
If you have 13 minutes, please read A RANDOM SELECTION, a guilty mind thriller (word count 5,981).
If you have 19 minutes, please read PARTY TIME ON LAKE GEORGE, a wild and senic thriller (word count 8,745).
Reading Requests - Short Stories, Novels, and other Prose
BEFORE you publish on Booksie and ask other Booksians to read your work, please assure your work is the best you can do. Just as a chef prepares a fine dinner for the enjoyment of guests and a sculptor chisels and sands a block of wood or stone to reveal a figure from the sculptor's mind, so, too, the author prepares a written journey for the enjoyment of readers. A chef would not serve delicious vegetables and salad with a burnt steak and a sculptor would not exhibit a statue of a human figure with a leg that cracked and fell off. While Booksie is a laboratory for authors developing story writing skills, stories should be of a quality as if to be turned in for a school grade. We all started from the beginning at one time or another.
Your stories are read with scenes played out in the minds of readers using their imagination. Don't cause the reader to stumble and lose the picture by having to stop the story to discern intended meanings obscured by spelling and grammar mistakes. However, if English is not your mother tongue, just say so and we'll understand. Don't use overly large and / or obscure words and don't refer to people, places, or things unrelated to the story because each will interfere, and might destroy, the story being played out in the minds of your readers. 90% of stories are told in past tense so check your stories to assure nothing written is also happening immediately, unless you have a really good reason. Use good punctuation, especially use paragraphs to give the eyes a break and to give cues as to who is talking or when scenes change.
The Golden Rule of Fiction is "Show; don't tell". This means do not write your story with mainly sentences describing what happened. This is called a story summary and it has good use but not continuously in the story because summaries lack emotion, depth, and juice. Show the reader what is happening by using dialog, movement, and action. Let the readers figure out simple things; don't write, "She doubted his explanation." but write "She raised her eyebrows." True, raised eyebrows can mean different things but by providing the context, that is, what happened before, the readers will correctly discern your intent.
"If you fail to plan then you plan to fail." In Booksie and other publishing sites you will occasionally read that an author has given up continuing with a novel. The author may give some excuse but whether the authors admits it or not (or realizes it or not), without story planning the story got lost in a cul-de-sac or a box canyon, if writing a western. The incomplete novel either lost its emotion or story line. The solution is to write a story summary using descriptive sentences, as if you were telling your best friend or advisor what your story was about. A story summary allows for easier changes, repositioning of chapters, and the insertion of sub-plots as desired. Stories written without plans almost always require massive rewriting when something does not work out. Experienced authors report they can write full time one novel a year without a plan and three or four novels a year with a plan. After twenty years of full time novel writing, which would make you more proud in your bookshelf and bank account: Twenty unplanned novels or Eighty planned novels?
What is the power of the story summary? From the most convoluted English mystery to TV's 30 minute Monk episode, the detective usually gives a dénouement where the motivations, opportunities, and crimes are itemized. Near the end Monk says, "This is what happened...". What follows is the story summary, containing both Instant story and Back story, in the likely event the reader or viewer did not catch all of the clues due to the swirling distractions of red herring story clues, personalities and sub stories, and sometimes breath taking scenery. Write the whole story in the Story Summary. Never embark on a trip without thinking you know where you're going.
Instant stories and Back stories. Have you ever felt compelled to start with the boring prologue to the story, what and why things are as they are, before starting the story? Resist it, if you can, because the prologue is likely boring and you will lose your readers quickly. Look at some Booksie novels and note the read counts on page 1 and then on succeeding pages. The read counts will naturally drop off but is the drop gradual or abrupt? A gradual drop means the readers did not believe further time should be invested into the story or they had quit reading to do something else. An abrupt drop between the first and second page indicates the introduction was boring and could not arrest many readers. The story should begin at an interesting point to grab the reader's attention. We'll call that the Instant story. What happened before that is the Back story. Weave in the Back story details as the story moves along. Another difference between the Story Summary and the Instant story (the story you will publish) is you tell the truth in the Story Summary and Back story but you can lie to, mislead, and withhold information from the reader to build drama and mystery in the Instant story.
The Breakfast of Champion Fiction is conflict. A story without conflict is either a travel log or erotica and both equally boring. The more conflict and troubles the author heaps on the protagonist (the main character) the more readers like it. Assure that your stories have a plot. Reveal some of the conflict, if not all, as close to the beginning of the story to "hook" the reader into continuing to read. Continue to heap troubles onto the protagonist.
Be stingy with your words. Once the story is written and cleaned up, put it away for a week. When you come back, imagine you are sending your story via the old Western Union telegraph and you have to pay twenty-five cents per word. Can you keep your winning story in tact by chopping out words to make it a crisp read? Of course you can.
Conversation versus Dialog. Listen carefully to the conversations of others and you will hear boring, badly structured words that barely make sense but are understood. Conversely, have you ever had an experience where you later thought, "Gee, I should have said..."? That should-have-said is the dialog that should appear in your story. Conversation is boring. Rich dialog moves the story along efficiently and can provide much non-verbal information, eliminating the need for much description.
Reading Requests - Short Stories, Novels, and other Prose. If you have gotten this far, please indicate on your reading request that you have at least attempted the suggestions above and are ready for an evaluation. Otherwise I will LIKE your story without comment. With a multi-page novel, I am likely to only invest enough time to evaluate one page and it will be the first page unless you direct me to another page.
Reading Requests - Poetry, Songs, and Etc.
Poetry is something I seldom understand or appreciate. I can not make constructive suggestions about these types of writing. It's not you, it's me. If you ask I will LIKE your poem without comment.
These terms may sound harsh but, in the past, I spent a lot of time advising new writers who all committed the same, common mistakes. A few authors, after inviting my comments, expressed indignation that I criticized their first draft story and stated no intention of making any improvements. I rather desire to assist those authors who strive to do their best.
Happy reading and writing,
Ben A. Vanguarde
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