A Thousand Words A Day

A writing journal _____________________________ PROFESSORBLOG@HOTMAIL.COM

writing: _ Christian Writers _ _ NaNo _

reading: _LibraryThing_ _ BookCrossing _ _ My local library _ _ Another nearby library _

blogs: _ Lorie Rees_ _Itinerant Iconoclast_ _ Rita's Ravings _
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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Reader, writer, podcast listener, and TV watcher. And real nice guy.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

I have the other assignment here for the Na No Wri mo meeting we had a few days ago now. This was a really interesting one, it is a card game called "Nano Fiction." First I have to explain that this is not the same Na No as in National Novel Writing Month, this is Nano as "nano second" or "nano technology" . . . the prefix meaing extremely extrememy extremely small. Nano Fiction (in this sense) relates to extreemely extremely short stories. This is sometimes called hyper fiction and is realted to the type of monthly assignemnts that appear in Writers Digest every issue. W D caps their assignments at 75 words, while official Nano fiction caps itself at 55 words. Now that is a challenge, because you technically need to basic features of fiction, including a beginning, middle, and an end, as well as a setting, characters, and resolution. So this is to distinguish Na No fiction (which is the Na No Wri Mo fiction that I am writing and that is the basic premise of the reading group I am a part of) and Nano fiction, which is 55 words or less.

So with that as a bit of background, we go back to the game that Allison picked up somewhere . . . I want to say that it was in an airport down wouth somewhere like maybe North Carolina. Anyway, the game a pack of cards with elements of fiction: character, setting, conflict, and resolution. There are a number of ways to play and "score" the game, but it involves writing a Nanostory from the elements one selects. We did not do that, in terms of writing 55 words stories, but used the cards as creativity helps in so far as getting into the mood for writing stories. So we went through the cards, selecting the elements that we could use in telling (not writing, mind you, but telling) a story. I did jot down notes, so I could get to this point.

My cards ended up (after sifting through part of the pack to get these, not completely random like the game would prefer in some cases) being: the super hero with worthless powers, the intrepid investigative reporter, the woods, a strange noise, and it all burned down. I picked these cards because some go together well, like the reporter and the superhero . . . that is a classic motif, and the combination of the setting in the woods and it all burned down went together well. Not for a happy ending, but at least they fit together a bit. So my story pretty much told itself as far as the cards went, but I added a bit to it. The first thing I had to think of was what the worthless powers could be that a super hero could have. Thanks to the good work of the improvisational teams at ABC's "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" have given me some good ideas. They have a skit like this. So I went with Captain Clearisil, who had the power of causing unsightly facial blemishes on others. He mostly used this power to embarrass all of the women who turned him down for dates when he was in high school and college. He fell into a career as a minor celebrity, ending up on "I am a celebrity, get me out of here 3," and had lined up a national long distance service TV commercial, but unfortunately was replaced at the last minute by ALF. His alter ego was Kent Clark, a mild-mannered type of person. Scoor Scooperman, the reporter, works at the Daily Snafu, and has been on the case of Captain Clearisil for years now. He suspects Kent Clark as Captain C, mostly because he has "really clear skin." So he has followed K C into a clearing in the forest. Why K C is there we have no idea, but what we do know is that there is noise! He heard the noise and wanted to investigate, so of course he had to look for a phone booth, but had no idea where to find one in the woods, and he had to keep away from the reporter. So . . . it all burned down.

They laughed at the story, which is always a good sign. Their stories were equally interesting, and it was a good assignment. What we decided to do for the next "writing meeting" is to select some cards from the pack and create a similar assignment for 4 weeks down the road, the first meeting in June. The nice thing about actually being at the meeting was to assist in the selection process. We tried to select items that were open enough so as to not force a particular story line, not too much SF or fantasy or romance or whatever. We tried to keep it open. What we ended up with was two character cards, "The Men In Suits" and "The Time Traveler Visiting From 1888," a setting of "The Bus Depot, Near Locker #17," a problem of "Trapped!" and a resolution of "They totally got away with it." I look forward to writing it, as usual we are set to try to get one to five thousand words out of this situation. I am leaning towards making the time traveler not a real time traveler, but weasel out of that. I am thinking about making the guys in suits the good guys somehow, kind of a switch of stereotypical roles. Someone else is out to get them, maybe the time traveler or maybe someone who thinks they are a time traveler or someone else . . . who knows yet? That person or that group almost gets away with it, and we are rooting for the men in suits and are glad that although they were trapped, they escape. Somehow. Though I might go anywhere, this is one of the scenarios I am kicking around. I don't want to fall into the stereotype of the men in suits trapping the time traveler in the bus terminal, whereby the time traveler (our hero) escapes the evil men in suits. I want todo something different.


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