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Thread: Short Stories

  1. #1 Short Stories 
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    Here you guys can post any short story you're working on, and maybe post some constructive criticism. I'll start off with a story I made a while ago...

    “It’s a cold, damp morning. You huddle around the campfire, trying to glean some last bits of warmth. Your team stands around, all battle-hardened veterans ready to lay down their lives for the cause. You sit on the ground, preparing both mentally and physically. You know you have precious few minutes before whaaaaa. It has begun...
    Your team hastens through a narrow gorge toward the target. The steep walls are imposing and suffocating as you make your way through the stony bottom. The Sky seems impossibly far away… zziiiiiiip… an arrow whizzes by and embeds itself in one of your team. You don’t look back as you dive behind a small rise, presenting the smallest possible target. Your friends scramble to find suitable cover. Another two teammates fall to the rain of arrows.
    There’s too many arrows now- and you still don’t know where they’re coming from. A teammate tries to make a break for it, but is quickly put down by four simultaneous arrow strikes. Your entire team is pinned to the in between the narrow stone gorge. Wait- maybe not the entire team. Your friend is on top of a cliff face, rushing towards a tower. That’s where the arrows are coming from! You realize with a shock. Your friend makes it to the watchtower unmolested by unfriendly fire. He enters, and the sounds of sword fighting drift down. An enemy archer falls off the top, and your friend emerges. He has an arrow in his side and a dented helmet, but he waves you on to the complete the mission.
    Unbeknownst to you, as the team hurries through the now-clear passage, your friend slumps against the wall and closes his eyes. In his dreams he remembers- friends made, battles won, and friends lost. As his dream ends the fallen comrades come back and lead him to a shining light, friends united once more. You don’t know of your friends passing or his reunion with the dead.
    Your team, weakened but not defeated, breaks through the canyon. The stone walls that once confined them now fall away to a wide plain with amber waves of grain. The wind tosses and turns the grain to present an image of a sea of provisions. You ignore the instinctual urge to harvest, till and replant. The farmer that once supported his family is gone- burned away like the farmhouse you owned. Ashen like the wife you took, the children you bore. You push all these feelings into the deepest part of your mind- where they could do no damage at the present.
    It was quiet, almost surreal, walking through the flowing strands. The midday sun shone through, lighting the entire field with a golden light. The imposing stone walls of the Kingdom Castle loom ahead. Your target lays inside- the Black King on his Throne of Thorns. You were sent here to kill him. You will leave here with his head, or not at all. This is your mission. The quiet feeling doesn’t end. There’s no sign of life, but you don’t let your guard down. Danger is omnipresent on the battlefield.
    Kksssssss… Your mind barely registers the sound when boooom. An explosion to your right. By the time you’ve spun to face the new threat, another bomb goes off behind you. “Minefield!” the shout barely leaves your mouth, when two more traps go off. You scan the ground around you, checking for any other detonator pads. A teammate crashes into you tackling you to the ground. An arrow hisses by dangerously close. You look back at your savior, only to find that the arrow that missed you hit him, right below the heart. He looks up at you, eyes full of the grim knowledge that he will die here on this field. He nods, signaling for you to finish the mission. You leave him lying there to live out the last breaths in painful agony, alone and broken.
    You meet up with two teammates near a tree, the lone sentinel in the grain field. You survey the field through weary eyes. The majesty once possessed by the field was gone, tainted by the blood and bodies of fallen friends, the peaceful quiet broken by pained screams and explosions. Your teammates are unaffected. They have seen death before, and even death such as this does not faze them. Your gaze falls upon the castle walls, now scarcely a hundred meters away. Such a short distance, yet so much pain and suffering lies between you and the wall.
    By unspoken agreement, the three of you start at once, rushing the wall. A terse war cry escapes your lips. The wind rushes through your helm, stinging you cheeks. The guards posted don’t expect the attack, the suddenness and brazenness of the three of you momentarily stuns them into inaction. A short reprieve. The arrows once again start flying, threatening you with their fatal bite. You dodge and duck, perpetually moving forward. Death was above you, awaiting his latest souls. The wall comes up suddenly, and you throw yourself onto it. The hail of fire stops, the archers unable to shoot straight down. Of the other two teammates, one did not make it. Death had his victim after all. Once more you must leave the body behind to the carrion crows, incapable of allotting your friend his last dignities.
    You must focus on the problem at hand. The wall is massive- several times your height, thicker than a tree trunk. And yet you must get over. You are too far to stop now. You unhook the ladders strapped to your pack, and start your ascent. Even with all you ladders roughly assembled in an impromptu design, you are still only halfway up. Your friend motions for you to dismount, and then he himself climbs up, adding his own ladder pieces to yours. The top is almost within his reach when an enemy guard peers over the wall side. He appears startled at the sight of you and jumps back. Your friend surges upward, sword in hand. You hastily unstrap your sword from your side, and follow up after him. As he climbs over the last little bit of wall, he is greeted by the guards knife in his gut. He stumbles back and tumbles over the wall, landing with a muffled thud.
    The guard is still off balance from his last swing, giving you precious seconds to finish your ascent and bringing your sword to bear. You take a wild swing, and divorce his head from his shoulders. Two more guards rush out of a nearby tower, prepared to avenge their fallen. One slows down, and nocks an arrow to his bow. The second continues his mad charge, swinging a massive two-handed sword, intent on smiting you. You sidestep the incoming blade, then plunge your own into his chest. The guard surrenders his last breath then crumples. You rush the last remaining guard, prepared for the kill. He looses one arrow and frantically attempts to fit another one. He never gets the chance. He falls by your hand before he knows you are upon him. You breathe an exasperated sigh. Your body is suddenly racked by spastic pain. The arrow shot from the fallen guards bow is buried up to the fletching in your armor. Unnoticed in your bloodlust, the pain now consumes you and drags you to your knees.
    You look up to see the Black King in his temple, mocking you. His disfigured face is contorted in a scowl, hinted with amusement at your failure. You raise your arms in one last defiant symbol, your legs move despite the fire that courses through them… And you charge. For the mission. For the better of the Kingdom. For your fallen comrades, you charge. Your sword raised high, glinting off the mid afternoon sun, shines with the souls of those waiting, anticipating, their revenge. Death hovers near, knowing that he will feast soon. And the King’s smile remains frozen on his maimed face, not believing he is seeing his end. You let the war cry roar past your lips, and closed the distance between you and the Tyrant…

    By all means, tell me your thoughts!



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  3. #2  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Bows and arrows coupled with minefields and detonators?
    Intriguing...


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  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    The use of Y-O-U

    65 you
    43 your
    1 you've
    1 yours
    1 yourself

    Sorry, part way through I just started counting, so prevalent was the usage that the story got buried by it.
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; February 20th, 2013 at 08:21 PM.
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  5. #4  
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    Why then do you not provide us all with a more enjoyable "story"? jocular
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Why then do you not provide us all with a more enjoyable "story"? jocular
    post some constructive criticism
    “Having the critics praise you is like having the hangman say you’ve got a pretty neck”
    Eli Wallach
    Ok, the story is great.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  7. #6  
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    he's got a point though. I think I did overuse 'you'. Thanks for the tip!
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  8. #7  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    The image that comes to my mind is that 'you' are identifying with a character in a video game. It would probably have gamers as an audience then, I'm thinking... For ease of reading, a better layout on the page with paragraph indentations and a few more paragraph breaks would assist.
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  9. #8  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    It is possible that the format of the reply box does not allow for individual line indentation, in which case the best you could do would be leave a blank line between paragraphs. I observe that my 5 space setback vanishes when I go to preview or post.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    It is possible that the format of the reply box does not allow for individual line indentation, in which case the best you could do would be leave a blank line between paragraphs. I observe that my 5 space setback vanishes when I go to preview or post.
    it had paragraph spaces and indents on the word document...
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  11. #10  
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    It wasn't too bad, but I found it a bit confusing. The guy is sitting there wondering when the battle would start, but when it does, it is apparently his side on the attack. I don't know how that happens. Then there is a hail of arrows and one person gets hit with four arrows so there must be a whole bunch of archers. But then when the one soldier storms the tower, there seems to be only one there. Or if there were many more, then how did the one swordsman defeat the whole bunch. And how did he manage to sneak up there undetected? That wasn't explained very well. A lot of the details were glossed over.
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  12. #11  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    I found this somewhat amusing.

    You ignore the instinctual urge to harvest, till and replant.
    I suppose we are to believe the battle hardened veterans along with their leader are displaced farmers who when they see a field, find it hard to resist the urge even in the middle of a battle.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  13. #12  
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    Um, anyone else want to take a stab at putting their stories here?
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  14. #13  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheOtherGuy View Post
    Um, anyone else want to take a stab at putting their stories here?
    Actually TOG I admire the effort. If a writing career is a consideration then IMHO there's room to improve. I hope someday it happens. Good luck.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  15. #14  
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    A couple years ago, as a part of an assignment, I was required to write an intro to a story. The following is that intro. Overall it was intended to be a part of a larger short story, which was overall supposed to be a part of a larger collection - which I will not comment on (It's a side project that I still work on, when I'm not working on my more compelling side projects). So, I'm willing to share to it.

    He enjoyed the park he was sitting in, in the heart of the city. The run-down buildings, the filth and noise, all the people who cannot lessen their pace for a single moment, people who are too concerned with getting by – here is the park in which he sat. Left unnoticed within plain sight.

    The park, being enclosed within three apartment buildings, had a single point of entrance tothose not living in the buildings. Perhaps most thought the park to be private, which would explain why few ventured into it from the street. He knew better though. The apartments were too worn, and the park too unkempt to be anything other than public domain.

    He sat with hishands upon his lap. His camera rested beside him on the bench, the cap still onthe lens, the strap still on his shoulder. It was expensive and of high quality. Nobody could expect less of someone in his profession.

    As he sat in the park, sipping coffee, he watched some kids play on the old playground equipment. None of them could have been much older than six, most looked even younger. He had seen many of them in the park before. He came here often, and so did they. He liked to think of himself, as well as them, as regulars in the park.

    Unsure of the hour, he reached into his pocket and produced his cellphone. The screen read about a quarter past eight. It was still early but, if he were to correct his schedule, he would have to get to work soon.

    He had very few liberties in his day, despite him being freelance. Most freelancers were able to earn a decent living, while still spending the majority of their time as they wanted to. He himself did not have this luxury. It was because of his agent, Marilynn. All the same, today he would take some of that liberty and spend an extra fifteen minutes in the park, even if it meant falling behind a little more.

    The children continued to play on their swing-set and slide, and he continued to watch their play while he listened to the muffled drone of vehicles behind him. If Marilynn could see him now, he thought, he would be ‘amateur’ for the rest of the week.

    While Marilynn expected a certain air of professionalism from her clients, she did make them more money than a freelancer could ever make on their own. He also knew that if she did it just for her twenty-five percent, she would not have gotten him jobs where her other clients would be paid more. Being a favourite had its perks, and in many ways he was indebted to her. Marilynn was hard on clients when they did not take jobs as seriously as she wanted them to, he was becoming one of those clients.

    He looked at his phone again. His extra time had come to a close. Several of the childrenhad now joined hands. They chanted a sort of sing-song, and danced in a circle. This prompted him to remove the lens from his camera, and then turn it on. He took a couple of photos of the children and turned his back. Marilynn always said candid photos were a good addition to a portfolio. While he walked away, they all fell down.
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  16. #15  
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    The first paragraph was especially powerful.
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  17. #16  
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    Here's another story I was working on. Originally for the NaNoWriMo event, I think this is too good to let go. Feedback, opinions, suggestions all welcome. Also, tell me where you think I should go with this. Stick with Father/son conflict, or branch out to other futuristic-y things?

    December 7th, 2078

    Torna quietly walked into the room, taking in the view at a glance. Several men in white lab coats huddled around a large machine in a small room. The machine was roughly donut shaped, with a large hole in the center. Several loose wires hung out of open maintenance hatches. Torna looked over at a new reporter, quickly doing her makeup and preparing for an interview. She was pretty and young as well… Torna had to remind himself to stay focused. Nobody noticed Torna as he walked through the room, examining the odd trinket here and there. He finally came upon a document on the wall, a simple little newspaper article. Its headlines blared Laws of Time and Space Broken! The article went on to describe a stunning advance in science and how it came to be, who was involved, and petty concerns over financial and ethical decisions.

    “We are live” The newscaster began, and the men stood up straight and beamed at the cameras. “We are live” the reporter repeated “At the unveiling of a machine said to tear through time space and send a man through that gap. Dr. Atgorn led the project, a project funded by the coordinated efforts of several nations, including the United States.” Dr. Atgorn stepped forward, a tall man with gray eyes and graying black hair. His glasses were placed on top of his head, a poor defense against the tangled hair that flows down to his shoulders. As he moved another hair wilted down across his face. He brushed it away absentmindedly and spoke. “Thank you, Tania. This machine you described is more than a machine. Much, much more. You may have heard of the phrase ‘historic undertaking’? This gives whole new meaning to the words. The Portal gives mankind a chance to go back in time, turn back the clocks, and change history.”

    As he spoke Torna wandered around the room, still unnoticed. He walked up to the Portal and pulled out a little notebook. He quickly jotted down some notes, and then began fiddling with some mechanical parts. “Hmm…. Yeah, that should do it…. Tweak that a little… What were they thinking when they put that in?” Everyone in the room still took no notice of him. He finished his little fixes and backed away.

    “Now then, Tania, I assume you want a demonstration?” Dr. Atgorn said, with a glint in his eye. The reporter stood stunned for a second, mouth agape, and then regained her composure. “Well Dr. if you think you can wow me…” Atgorn laughed. “Wow you? I will wow the whole world. In fact, I shall go to the future, where I’m sure they are expecting me.” He pressed a button, and the Portal roared to life with a series of mechanical clicks and whirs. The scientists stepped back, holding their breaths. One shielded his eyes with his arm. “It’s working…” A short, pudgy man on the end said, suddenly looking very frightened.

    The Portal seemed as though it would just click and whir forever, but with one final click and a loud snap, a thin green veil popped into existence in the Portals hole. It emitted a feint glow, bathing everyone in an eerie light. Torna smiled and stepped back. “See ya in the future, gramps.” And he stepped out of the room, disappearing with a flash of the same green light that Dr. Atgorn was now stepping into.

    December 7th, 2103

    Dr. Atgorn was a very organized man. You couldn’t tell from his mop of graying hair (although he refused to admit it was graying), or from his disheveled clothes. You especially couldn’t tell from his far, moody stare. But in reality, Dr. Atgorn had a plan for everything. He carefully plotted out his life in his mind, and came to all decisions logically and rationally. He planned for everything, so maybe that’s why his current situation shocked him.

    Sure, Dr. Atgorn hadn’t known exactly when or where he would come out, but when he came out to see himself, albeit a younger, fitter, and with a confident stare, he mind simply stopped. The mind that could work a dozen complex problems at once could simply not comprehend that he was seeing a younger him, a hundred years in the future. For a long while, the two men stood in gripping silence. Then the Future Atgorn spoke. “Dad.”

    ‘Dad’. The word stung deeply. Dad. A word he never thought to hear in his entire life, much less here, on the brink of his greatest achievement. Dad. “Son…” Dr. Atgorn mumbled and embraced the figure. “Torna, my son! I never thought…” He broke off as Torna stepped back. “You never said goodbye” His eyes narrowed, accusingly. “Torna, please… it’s not like that. I never had a chance… Torna!” The doctor exclaimed, but to no avail. Torna was walking down a corridor, balls of white light following him and illuminating his path. Dr. Atgorn paused only for a moment to glance at the wondrous orbs before pursuing his son. “Torna!”

    “Twenty-seven years Dad. Twenty-seven years I lived without you. Mom was a wreck. She couldn’t deal with losing you.” Torna called behind him. “Mom eventually would die of a broken heart. That left me, a kid whose father abandoned him before he was born, and a mother who died because of it. You know where that put me?” Torna paused, waiting for his father to catch up before answering his own rhetoric question. “It left me alone with nothing but the legacy of you. I was constantly told of how brilliant you were, how innovative, how kind. Where were you all my life?”
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Remember, I'm only trying to help

    The machine was roughly donut shaped, with a large hole in the center.
    I will only ask this.....have you ever heard of redundancy?

    Personally TOG if this was a contest and I were a judge reading this line 3 sentences in then I would either hit the delete button or crumple up the paper it's written on and toss it in the waste basket, such are the rewards of competitive writing.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Anyone can write, print and distribute their own book these days without the need for a publisher. Check out this on-line software.

    Make a book. Photo album, picture book, & custom books | Blurb Books Canada

    Hubby made a photo book for my birthday a year ago, a nice little hardcover unit. You can order just one book if you want or they get less costly when you order in volume. Get an ISBN number and market your book on-line as another option.

    I'm sure there must be other companies offering similar services.
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  20. #19  
    Forum Ph.D. stander-j's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    Anyone can write, print and distribute their own book these days without the need for a publisher. Check out this on-line software.

    Make a book. Photo album, picture book, & custom books | Blurb Books Canada

    Hubby made a photo book for my birthday a year ago, a nice little hardcover unit. You can order just one book if you want or they get less costly when you order in volume. Get an ISBN number and market your book on-line as another option.

    I'm sure there must be other companies offering similar services.
    Self-Publishing has become a pretty feasible option these days, but it is very difficult to get a self-published book into the stores if you're looking to write professionally. Then you have to start schmoozing with stores and distributors - and that becomes hell when they're overseas. That isn't even factoring in the money you have to use to float self-publishing, and the money and effort needed for promotion (which is almost always the writer's responsibility). Getting representation, and a getting into bed with a publisher is a nice way to take of the publishing costs, as well as taking care of distribution. This creates a lot of extra resources and time for writers to focus on promotion.
    "Cultivated leisure is the aim of man."
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    Anyone can write, print and distribute their own book these days without the need for a publisher. Check out this on-line software.

    Make a book. Photo album, picture book, & custom books | Blurb Books Canada

    Hubby made a photo book for my birthday a year ago, a nice little hardcover unit. You can order just one book if you want or they get less costly when you order in volume. Get an ISBN number and market your book on-line as another option.

    I'm sure there must be other companies offering similar services.
    Self-Publishing has become a pretty feasible option these days, but it is very difficult to get a self-published book into the stores if you're looking to write professionally. Then you have to start schmoozing with stores and distributors - and that becomes hell when they're overseas. That isn't even factoring in the money you have to use to float self-publishing, and the money and effort needed for promotion (which is almost always the writer's responsibility). Getting representation, and a getting into bed with a publisher is a nice way to take of the publishing costs, as well as taking care of distribution. This creates a lot of extra resources and time for writers to focus on promotion.
    The link I listed will assist with distribution by listing the book on their site. With access to the internet, anyone can do their own self promotion. Yes, this takes time and energy but if the book is any good at all it is not too hard to get it 'out there' without having to print the books in advance.

    The important thing is to write about a marketable subject if you want large public appeal. Some topics have a very narrow audience no matter how brilliantly they are written. I have a neighbor who writes for Harlequin Romance and she has pounded out over 30 books in the last 8 or so years. Just one example of an existing readership base, lol...
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  22. #21  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    Anyone can write, print and distribute their own book these days without the need for a publisher.
    Which is, in some ways, a great pity.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    Anyone can write, print and distribute their own book these days without the need for a publisher. Check out this on-line software.

    Make a book. Photo album, picture book, & custom books | Blurb Books Canada

    Hubby made a photo book for my birthday a year ago, a nice little hardcover unit. You can order just one book if you want or they get less costly when you order in volume. Get an ISBN number and market your book on-line as another option.

    I'm sure there must be other companies offering similar services.
    The signs are there yet I never realized or accepted that the quality of the literary arts was at its all time low.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    I destroyed my short story called "Showgirl." It was pornographic, and I did not want my mother to find it.
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Just So Tales from La La Land

    The Chihuawholf.

    They usually say “start at the beginning and continue to the end” when it comes to stories, but the start is kinda hard to find (and a long, long time ago) and the end isn’t here yet so that makes it difficult.
    I suppose I could go with “And then the Earth cooled…” but that’s still a bit long ago, and mostly boring, so how about “sometime, a few years ago”, and then fast-forward to “fairly recently”? That should work a lot better and keep your attention, or at least not bore you senseless before you get to the end.
    What you have to understand is that all stories are true, for, of course, variable values of "true". Some are true because they're about people and people are people the world over, while others are true because they tell you about the world and why or how it's the way it is. This is one of the latter. And it's true in the sense that it’s the absolute truth but not quite in the form you expect the truth, Uncle Remus and Br’er Rabbit or Coyote and Bird Woman maybe, not so much the Greek format though, I mean who wants another round of those?
    “Hi my name’s Leda and I’m looking for that one special person. So if you’re white and have a six-foot wingspan I’ll help you keep your pecker up, if you know what I mean”, or even “Oh yah, I invited Zeus round to my place tonight, I hear he’s worth an hour or two” “That’s bull” “Well, a girl does like variety you know…”
    Before we start you should be aware (and if not, then I'll make you aware) that the people in the story are animals. Not in the way biologists mean it, but in the way that, say Kweku Anansi is a man AND a spider. The way that guy stood at the end of the bar is an octopus (just ask any woman who's walked past him!). You just have to tilt your head like so and squint like this and, with the light in the right direction, you see it plain as day. Now, of course, some of you are going to ask "how can this be?" So I'll lay it out for you: to those of a scientific bent the answer is "That's just the way it is" and you can say "Okay, got it" and carry on. Those of you NOT scientifically minded require something more fitted to your mind set, so here it is: it's because of quantum. Now you can sigh, say "Ah, I understand completely" and go back to crocheting your yoghourt and singing traditional folk songs about the impact of the M25 and nuclear power on the happy bucolic lifestyle of 14 century serfs.


    Still working on this - I know where it starts and how it ends, it's just that damned middle bit that's causing problems.
    Oh, and, as if you hadn't already worked it out, the story is about "science" cranks and their impact on the public perception of what is science and what isn't.
    zinjanthropos likes this.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Some are true because they're about people and people are people the world over,
    My favorite line in the whole story because it heralded something special was about to happen.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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