Sunday, March 16, 2008

Obey The Hype!

Only one more day before Nathan's review of "Shallow Graves"!11!!ll!!!

Yes, folks. Tomorrow, you get my long-awaited review. So, what shall we talk about today?

Well, if any of you missed it, sometime commenter, Todd Wheeler took Third Place in a short story contest over at On The Premises with his entry Nice Shade of Blue. Its good. Go read it!

So, I read the story and then wandered around the rest of the site a little. I may have to visit there some more.

Anyway, Contest #5 is underway over there. The premise for Contest 5 is:

FOUND

One or more characters *unexpectedly* find one or
more physical objects somewhere. Something about the object(s) raises questions that the characters want answered.

Your challenge: In at least 1,000 but no more than 5,000 words, write a creative, compelling, and well-crafted story that clearly uses the premise.

I'm thinking about trying to write an entry. I had an idea, but it sounds too Twilight Zone-y to really work. Here's the idea:

It would start, Ted found himself walking down a wide, deserted boulevard. The surroundings looked familiar but Ted couldn't remember ever having been there before. Logically, he knew he must have been there before; he knew there'd be a bicycle shop on the next corner before he got there. But it all seemed more like Deja-vu instead of actual knowledge.

He turned into an alley following a sudden compunction. On the ground he saw a polished piece of metal. Bending to pick it up, he saw that it was smooth and fit his palm perfectly. It was shaped like a smooth clamshell and had a line around it that seemed to indicate it might be something he could open. There were no buttons or indentations that might be the means of opening the object. Also, it seemed much heavier than an object this size should have been.


The story would go on to detail how he tries to figure out what the object is and specifically how to open it. When he finally succeeds in opening it, the following paragraph ends the story:

Ted found himself walking down a wide, deserted boulevard. The surroundings looked familiar but Ted couldn't remember ever having been there before. Logically, he knew he must have been there before; he knew there'd be a bicycle shop on the next corner before he got there. But it all seemed more like Deja-vu instead of actual knowledge.

OK, I'm not really asking if this is a good idea or not. I'm not a big fan of stories that have a Twilight Zone, surprise ending as the entire payoff. They always feel like a cheap trick on the reader...at least to me, they feel that way. So what am I asking you?

Your mission today, should you choose to accept it, is to suggest a premise to me. "That's Cheating," I can hear you howling. Why, yes. Yes it is. And why are you all right? Mostly because today is "National Everything You Know is Right Day!"

So, since we've already established that getting story ideas from you all would be cheating, why don't you just tell me something else that you know is right than I might not have known about.

(And yes, I'll acknowledge that other than pointing you to Todd's story, this is a fairly lame post. They can't all be gems.)


7 comments:

Michelle K said...

Nathan stumbled out of bed, regretting last night's Buffy bender where he and his girl friend stayed up to watch the last half of Season Six, because Evil Willow rocks. In his haze, he wasn't paying much attention to where he was going, and accidentally stumbled over the toaster in the middle of the hallway.

"That's funny," he thought. "I thought we had a toaster oven." And as he turned his head to glance back at the toaster (it was a classic silver model that would toast two slices of bread at once, and none of this foolishness about bagels and waffles, or cooking eggs at the same time), he tripped over the blender sitting on the living room doorway.

"I know we don't have a Waring," thought Nathan. "We've just got one of those cheap Oster's I picked up on sale at K-Mart when I made the mistake of thinking a daiquiri party would be a good idea."

"Honey?" he called back towards the bedroom, "Did you get new appliances yesterday and forget to tell me?"

She stumbled out of the bedroom, her hair tousled, and her flannel pajama bottoms sliding down her hips, showing just a sliver of tummy between her t-shirt and pajama bottoms.

"What on earth are you talking about? Appliances? You know I didn't leave the house yesterday!"

Then she saw the toaster. "Why is there a toaster in the middle of the hall?"

"There's a blender in the doorway to the living room," he replied.

"Have you checked the rest of the house?" she asked.

"Err... No. I just got up."

So they checked the rest of the house and found a stand mixer in the bathroom, a juicer in the hall closet, and a Cuisinart food processor in the middle of the living room. The kitchen, however, was the most changed. Not only did they have a new fridge and oven, but cookbooks cookbooks sat where their old appliances had been. Shirley O'Corrior's "Cookwise", Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything", "The Cake Bible", "Cooking with Julia", "The Vegetarian Epicure", and even a copy of the hard to find "Cookies and Brownies" by Alice Medrich.

And sitting on the kitchen table were "The New Professional Chef" and "The Home Baker" by the CIA, plus several other cookbooks, all left open.

"What does this mean?" asked Nathan.

"I'm pretty sure," said his girlfriend, "this means it's time for you to start making dinner a lot more often."

Nathan said...

::applause::

Michelle K said...

Thank you! (blushes)

Funny thing I've been in the mood to write a short story, and was considering asking people to come up for a topic for me. But since my ideas are often seeing something, I didn't think that would work...

Oh... But I could ask people to show me *pictures* and I could write short stories from that!

Ooo! Thanks Nathan!

Steve Buchheit said...

Suddenly I'm reminded of Terry Bisson's "There Are No Dead" (collected in "In the Upper Room and Other Stories").

I say there's something that happens, some obviously bad decisions the main character makes, then they're able to open the clamshell, and it acts like a big reset button.

Nathan said...

Yeah, but a big reset button sounds like a good thing; a place where you could keep doing it over until you got it right.

In mine, you just were stuck in the same event over and over again trying to open a freakin' clamshell.

Todd Wheeler said...

Thanks for the props, man.

Jeri said...

That sounds like an interesting contest. I'm not sure if I could make the timeline, but I love twilight zone-ish writing ideas. :)

And Michelle, nice work! :)