Blog In Case of Emergencies

I’ve blogged at least once a week for three years running. I’ve written enough essays on the craft writing fiction to fill a book and enough short stories to fill another one (gee, that gives me an idea).

This week I started an article on how novelists should write with film adaptations in mind. Not to say that every hardcover is destined for the big screen, but that fiction writers could learn a lot from another medium. My angle was that narrative writers should use screenwriting tricks to keep their manuscripts from getting too long.

I got about 500 words in before I realized this was ground I’ve covered before. I was coasting on sayings I use all the time. The last thing I wanted to do was recycle a bunch old of content. I’ve followed too many blogs where each entry gets bogged down by lazy self-plagiarism (yes, that’s a thing).

So I decided to get back on the short fiction train.

I got about 1,800 words into a short story (tentatively titled Newsreelmancer) and I realized I was at the halfway point. Newsreelmancer is my first foray into science fiction in some time and it’s taking a lot longer for the story to resinate with me.

Writing can feel as empty as corporate jargon or as engaging as telepathy. The difference is that feeling of authenticity. In the spirit of finishing what I start I want to keep chipping away at this story for another week, until I find that certain something that makes it feel genuine.

That said, I don’t have any writing advice or short fiction for you this week.

This placeholder post is an I-owe-you slip for one blog entry or short story to be redeemed later. I promise it will be something that comes from a real place, resonates with deeper meaning, and is longer than the length of a comment.

P.S. One piece of advice I have for any aspiring blogger is to have a backlog of evergreen content piled up just in case something like this happens.

P.S.S. Admittedly this is not my finest work, but it does technically count as a blog entry, meaning my three year streak continues unbroken.

Words Of Discouragement: 10

For when you’re tired of platitudes and want a little attitude.

Dance Sing Write
Continue reading Words Of Discouragement: 10

The Inspiration Killers: A Story about Monsters that Prey on Creativity

Most of the symbols on the crime map were self explanatory. The blue men’s room signs with guns represented armed robberies, green cars were thefts of motor vehicles, baby blue houses were residential burglaries, red fists were aggravated assaults, purple R’s were sexual assaults, and green dollar bags represented thefts of businesses.

The symbol for what happened to me was black. The image was a floating phantom with a pointed head, winglike robes, and a curved trail for legs.

This phantom symbol covered the map around the liberal arts schools, the downtown design firms, and the bohemian blocks in Uptown.

Zoom into the map and you’d see phantom symbols across the street from the bookstore that hosted poetry readings, on the bus stop outside of the improv comedy club, and the lot behind First Avenue, the concert venue.

If you scanned a crime map of Texas you’d find the greatest concentration of phantoms were in Austin. In Oregon they were in Portland, and in Minnesota they were in Minneapolis. That’s where one got me.  Continue reading The Inspiration Killers: A Story about Monsters that Prey on Creativity

Words Of Discouragement: 9

For when you’re tired of platitudes and want a little attitude.

Crime

Continue reading Words Of Discouragement: 9

Black Noise Podcast Episode 1: Red Flags

Welcome to the inaugural episode of my Podcast: Drew Chial’s Black Noise, where I premiere short stories in the spirit of the Twilight Zone. Unlike my previous audio shorts I plan on prefacing these recordings with informal thoughts on my writing process.

This first episode is largely unstructured. I’ve yet to develop any bits beyond the reading and an artist statement. So I winged it. Maybe next time I’ll have a checklist.

Feel free to share your ideas for future episodes in the comments.

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My audiobook Terms and Conditions is now free on Bandcamp. You can listen to it right here!

How to Swap the Light Bulbs of Inspiration

Robert A. Heinlein’s second rule of is writing: You must finish what you start.

Neil Gaiman would add: Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

This article is about doing whatever you have to do, even when the spark from your first light bulb moment has gone dim.

What I do When My Inspiration is Incomplete

Ding. A light bulb appears over my head. It’s faint and it’s flickering, but I get the sense it’s one of many lamps leading down a larger path.

Most of my stories come to me like this.

Ding.

“What if depression acted like a movie producer invading the set of a man’s life and it gave him all these ‘notes’ that ruined his day?”

Ding.

“What if the corporation that runs reality starts putting features, like gravity, behind a paywall?”

Ding.

“What if a guy has a different personality disorder for every day of the week?”

These blinking bulbs line the entrance of a conceivable composition. These lamps rarely cast enough light to show a story’s structure. I can’t see the exit from the entrance, but I have a vague sense where the front door is leading. I see movement in the windows, but only catch silhouettes of the characters.

A lot of writers need to see the floor plan before venturing into the building. I’ve found if I keep pacing the block looking for the brightest concept I never go inside. I’m the kind that goes in blind and screws the bulbs in along the way in.

Those first few dings of inspiration might lead me to believe I’m walking into a plot driven mystery, but with a little more light I realize it’s an intimate character study. My skill for lighting depends on my ability to adjust my expectations of the building I’m working on.  Continue reading How to Swap the Light Bulbs of Inspiration

Words Of Discouragement: 8

For when you’re tired of platitudes and want a little attitude.

Conversation
Continue reading Words Of Discouragement: 8

Tooth Fury: A Story About the Magic that Goes into Every Bar Fight

My people once lived in castles as white as pearls, with great ivory towers, and spires that drilled into the clouds. We rode lifts on floss cables over waterfalls of twinkling blue paste, and rivers of green antiseptic.

Every surface of our fortress had a healthy gleam. There were no stains, cracks, or cavities. We all did our part to keep it that way. Adults fitted their shoes with bristles and glided across milky walkways. Children rode mint sleds down streets paved with bone. Jolly chimney sweepers cleaned the plaque from the gutters.

We danced beneath the long sharp roots that lined our roofs without fear of them ever falling.

The kingdom was sturdy. The infrastructure was strong, because we had a steady supply of the mineral our society was built upon.

I was a human ivory dealer (or Tooth Fairy if you prefer). My job was to procure the precious commodity we needed to fortify our city, and leave a sufficient payment for those who supplied the materials.

Ours was a trade-dependent economy. Fairy folk paid for goods and services with smiles, hugs, and songs, but for some goofy reason humans wouldn’t accept positive sentiments as payment. We had to investment in their markets so that we could pay for what we needed. Continue reading Tooth Fury: A Story About the Magic that Goes into Every Bar Fight

Words Of Discouragement: 7

For when you’re tired of platitudes and want a little attitude.

Chapter Unfinished
Continue reading Words Of Discouragement: 7

Blog Status Update

Blog entries will always get more clicks than Short Stories, but if you’re an aspiring author you need to do one of these things more. “How to” articles will drive traffic to your site, but will they pique anyone’s interest in your fiction? What’s the overlap between your readers in each medium? Odds are your blogging voice and your narrative voice sound completely different.

If you share more blogs than fiction, you’ve only established one of your brands.

I’ve had success writing about online marketing, but I’m more interested in writing horror than I am being a social media mentor. Yes, I could get around Twitter’s link limiting algorithm by writing endless articles about it, but that’s not why I’m here in the first place.

I’ve decided that my site needs to take a hit in monthly clicks so I can pursue my niche. If that means rebuilding my audience from the ground up, so be it.

There’s no shortage of bloggers who blog about blogging for bloggers who do the same, writing empty self perpetuating content that dates itself upon publication. I’m going to exit that cycle for a while.

You may have noticed the change already. This last May I’ve posted 5 short stories. I don’t know if I can keep that level of creative output going all summer long (I also have a novel to edit), but I want share as much fiction as I do blogs on writing.

There are so many would-be authors building brands by giving advice on the craft of writing. That’s been my strategy for four years now.

I’ve found that the audience that enjoys my blogging voice doesn’t really know my creative writing voice yet. That needs to change. So brace yourself for more twisted fiction to come.