My Writing – 2016 Overview


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Here’s an overview of my horror fiction writing and published works for the year 2016

 


October 31st

My most recent published stories were in Subcutaneous Magazine for which there are two of my stories in one issue.

The Room, The Woman is a very personal tale about the thought of death and the willingness of one that is ill and his want to welcome the concept of death.

After approving the first story which is flash fiction (under 1k words) the editor asked if I had any longer stories. I sent her, Wax Dolls, which is a story of witchcraft fictionally tied into a story of murder that many would find familiar.

read it for free, here: Subcutaneous Magazine, Issue 2 – Fall 2016

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October 16th

My modern tale, Dead Song, was published in Moon Books presents Horror Anthology – 2016, sharing company with Joe R Lansdale and Jonathan Maberry. The story is about an antique/pawn shop that comes across a very unusual item, one which evil forces desire to control.

Check it out here:
Moon Books Horror Anthology 2016

moon-books-horror-anthology-2016-small antiques-pic


September 30th

I had my flash fiction piece, Blinded, published on Cemetery Tomes. The story is only 300 words, one of many short fiction pieces that capture similar aspects of the moment of death.

Read it for Free, here: Blinded – by author Michael Thomas-Knight

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July 2nd

My existential serial killer/urban legend story, Urban Legend #9 was published in Siren’s Call eZine, issue #27. I was very glad to get this story published as a reprint after the original site it was published with deleted all their stories. It is difficult to get a serial killer story published these days but the story has enough of a nuance that helped it to get published twice.

You can read it or download the .pdf here: The Sirens Call eZine #27

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June 17th

On June 17th the short story, Skin Job was released as my first stand-alone offering (with no other stories) by Pleasant Storm Entertainment. The story followed the mythology of Terry M. West’s Car-Nex creation, (Carnivore from the Nexus) and I was one of eight writers invited to create a new story involving Terry’s original ideas and concepts.

But, I’m sure you all heard enough about this during the summer when I was getting reviews of the release and posting about it here at Parlor of Horror. At times, I felt it was a little self-serving to do so, but I felt obligated to the bloggers that reviewed the novelette to provide links to their posts. I’d like to thank all of you who reviewed SKIN JOB. Despite the good reviews, it sold much less than I had anticipated and is making me rethink my path and motives in writing.

Skin Job

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I have four additional stories that were accepted into anthologies but the books have not come out yet. They will have to go into next years tally, if they are published. Two of them have been a long time waiting…

 


 

Dec. 23rd

Of course, I just posted my Christmas Ghost Story, Yule Tide on Parlor of Horror.

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Articles on Writing:

As far as articles, I wrote two very important articles on writing and getting published this year that would pertain to anyone seeking to get stories into the respected published world (not self-published).

The 5 Stages of Writing

 Publishing Terminology

 

The Best of DF Lewis – by DF Lewis – book review

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The Best of DF Lewis – by DF Lewis

TAL Publications 1993

 

I first discovered DF Lewis in the small-press horror magazines of the 1980s. He was an unknown author at the time, appearing in home grown magazines amongst other unknowns. I didn’t know what flash fiction was, but I was learning quickly. His stories were little more than a page long and left more of an impression than the featured stories in the publications. Often I reread his stories because they almost seemed like a magic trick. How could it be that the shortest story in the publication is the one that haunts me for the rest of the night?

 

I recently found this chapbook of DF Lewis stories, a limited edition, signed used copy from TAL Publications. There’s 15 stories, but it barely reaches 55 pages. Having not read any of his stories in many years, it was clear from the start I was in for a treat.df-lewis

 

In Jack the Ratter, Jack is hunting rats. Only his concept of a rat and everyone else’s is quite disturbingly different. The barely 300 word Dreamaholic twists in upon itself in demented splendor until the final treat is revealed. The 1k word, Bloodbone effectively creeped me out when an unnamed protagonist travels to the ‘dark side’ of the city for life’s answers. The chap book ends with its longest story, The Weirdmonger, which seems to insinuate that a stranger can completely tear your life apart by imparting a few words upon you.

 

Most of his stories would be considered weird tales or weird fiction but they also have a strong horror element, so much so they are undeniably horror tales, perhaps with a Lewis Carroll undercurrent. Here I am trying to label the unclassifiable. The stories break all boundaries, making perfect sense in their abstract nature, delivering twists that are unfathomable, and leaving the reader mortified yet satisfied. DF Lewis is a mad genius, like Dr. Seuss with ill intent and sinister motives. The collection includes an introduction by Ramsey Campbell.

 

Currently Mr. Lewis is active in the underground press reviewing fiction and publishing anthologies by authors who align with his fiction mantra. He has published over 1,500 stories in his lifetime. He has won the Karl Edward Wagner Award from the British Fantasy Society for his accomplishments and also been nominated for his Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing of fiction books. For more info about DF Lewis check out his blog:

https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

For a bibliography, click here:

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/l/d-f-lewis/

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parlor of horror’s books and book reviews

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The Five Stages of Writing

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Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? The 5 Stages of Writing

The Five Stages of Writing

There are five stages I take to get a fiction story from inside my head to a finished work, ready for publication. You may find you follow these or similar stages. It’s a way of organizing my work. When I follow this in stages I never get stuck on what to do next and I never have to do the same work twice (such as rechecking the grammar after I’ve made changes to the story).


STAGE 1 – Incubation period

I’ll have an incubation period where I take the idea of the story and add to it as new thoughts come into my head. I’ll write notes about different scenes, descriptions of the characters, possible endings, develop scenes that will demonstrate the conflict(s) in the story best. Sometimes I’ll collect pics and photos from the internet and add them to a file folder. I’ll look at these pics in order to influence my story or help with descriptions.

I like to have times where I’ll sit in silence and let my imagination go into the story. I see a scene play out in my head like a movie and take mental note of the setting, characters and pacing. I do this without stopping to write anything down. If I stop to write, it breaks up the flow of the scene. Once the scene has played out to the end, I’ll put it on paper.

I will do some research on items, settings, people, cultural beliefs, similar story ideas, myths and legends, and anything else that will pertain to the story. If there is a mythology or a previous ‘world building’ that is accepted by the general public, then you have to follow those guidelines in order to keep the story in a suspension of disbelief. You can add to the mythology, but the basic premise has to coincide with people’s beliefs. For instance, if you’re writing a story about Slenderman and you give a description of his face that is inconsistent than the accepted mythology (he has no face) the reader will not continue reading.

I’ll also determine if a story is developed enough to ensure I can write freely. Sometimes I’ll do this with an outline, sometimes with notes I’ve been taking and other times I’ll have it all in my head.

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STAGE 2 – Write it

I’ll often think of the opening line first. What that will be, will depend on how close to the major conflict you want to start the story. It’s best to start in some sort of action, either physical, mental or dramatic, in order to get the reader hooked. It’s also important to get the reader emotionally involved with your character early on.

I’ll try to write a little every day until the story is finished. I don’t usually try to follow a word count quota. That works well for many writers, but if I force myself to write on a day when my mind isn’t completely engaged by my own story, I wind up throwing what I’ve written that day in the trash. So, I’ll start with a paragraph and if I get that ‘flow’ going, that energy that many writers call their muse, I’ll continue writing for as long as the ideas are coming. I’ll also write no matter where I am. If an idea comes to me when I’m out, I’ll pull out my kindle, write my scene in an email and send it to my desktop computer. When I’m home I’ll copy and paste it into my storyline.

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STAGE 3 – Edit it – (aka: drafting)

This is done many times, creating many drafts. This stage involves getting the story into shape so a reader will understand and enjoy it. I will work on pacing, settings, character development and arcs, story arc, and understandability (is that a word?). I’ll check the continuity. I’ll add more story to places that may need it and remove aspects that do not add to the story. One piece of advice I always liked was, make believe Judge Judy is going to read it. Does everything make sense? Do all the characters have sufficient motives to engage them in action. Are there irrational thoughts, actions, or motivations that can’t be explained? Does everything line up to the conclusion of the story? In this step I will not delve heavily into grammar. This step is about the story as a whole, not the individual words and sentences.

Other steps in this stage is to make sure the story follows the same tense all the way through. Make sure the story has a clear POV. I’ll check to make sure I’m using Active Voice, not Passive Voice.

Passive voice / active voice
A passive voice puts a barrier between the reader and the character, never letting the reader to be fully immersed in the character’s world. It’s like the difference between reading a good fiction novel or reading a story in a text book. Historical accounts in text books are almost always passive voice. While both can tell the story, only one will allow the reader to feel the emotion, empathy and impact of the story.

Each time I save the story after a period of editing it’s called a draft. You start with a rough draft and keep working on it until the final draft (finished product). This can take months for some stories. I might complete 10 to 20 drafts for a 3k word short story. If you write a story, then only check the grammar and spelling, most likely the story is not ready to be published.

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STAGE 4 – Proofread it

This is the step where all the grammatical rules come into play. Word spellings, grammar, punctuation, verb/subject agreement, all that good stuff is checked during this stage. For very short stories I do all the proofreading myself. If the story is longer, I’ll send it to a proofreader and pay to have it done. It’s often difficult to proofread your own work because your mind sees what you want it to say, not what another reader will see. Using the spellcheck and grammar check in your Word or Writing programs is not good enough. It will not alert you to using the wrong words that sound alike, (homophones: there, their, they’re or where, wear), or having the wrong word in a sentence that is spelled right (such as ‘on’ instead of ‘one’).

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STAGE 5 – Format it

This is where I’ll set up the format of the story to get it ready for the editor’s review. It will have the proper spacing (either Shun formatting or editor’s specs), proper font and font size (I write in Arial, but most editors prefer Times New Roman or sometimes Georgia or Courier) and proper indents for new paragraphs. Do not use tabs to set indents as it will mess up formatting it to eBook. Use the paragraph format and set it to first line indent (usually+3 but check submission guidelines). At the top left you will have all your information, name address, phone, email, story name, word count, what book or zine issue you’re submitting to, the date, etc.

If you follow these 5 stages carefully, you will have a publish-ready story in your hands. Now to find a place for your creation. More advice on that in my next article.

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My Year in Writing – 2015

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2015 – my year in Horror Fiction writing

The Devil’s Avatar
The year started very early on Jan 6th with the paperback release of Stomping Grounds, an anthology collection of Giant Monster stories (also available on Kindle). In my story, The Devil’s Avatar a jealous scientist uses an ancient machine that combines spiritual and alchemic aspects to create an unstoppable monster. His twisted mind creates a giant clown to seek out his reluctant lady love and destroy the town in the process. However, his rival also uses the machine, bringing to life a giant Paul Bunyan statue, to fight back and save the damsel in distress. The two battle it out in the center of a small Midwest town in this homage to classic 1950’s American Giant Monster films.

Why you should read. Stomping Grounds contains the best giant monster stories I’ve read in some time. Each story is packed with people crushing, earth quaking action. I’ve read quite a few books in this sub-genre and this one is top notch. I’d say this is the best book I’ve been in during 2015!

The Obsidian Box
My story in the Ghosts Revenge anthology deals with an ex-mobster who wants to ‘off’’ his wife but keep his hands clean. He decides to use an angry spirit to do his dirty work, but how do you control the uncontrollable? I found most of the stories in Ghosts Revenge to be entertaining. They were all written well exhibiting top quality. For a few of them, while written well, I just didn’t like the style, but that’s just a matter of personal tastes. Others I found outstanding. If you like violent ghost stories, this is a great book to dive into. My second fave book for the year. Ghosts Revenge anthology

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Sirens Call ezine issue #20
The theme in this issue was ‘a scream in the night.’ I brushed off and tightened up a story about a guy who frequents S&M chat rooms. During the night the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred when he hears a lone scream in his apartment building.  Sirens Call ezine (scroll down to issue #20 and download the pdf for free)

Bon Fire
This is a Halloween Horror story published at Cemetery Tomes. Originally released in my chapbook, The Clock Tower Black, the story follows a Old Clockgroup of friends who tell stories on Halloween around a blazing fire in the woods. It’s kinda’ like horror-lite for me, reading for all ages. Cemetery Tomes

Thanksgiving Day Surprise
I noticed that I hadn’t written much this year so I decided to write some flash fiction for the Holidays. I wrote three new stories. This is the first, which you can read FREE, right here on the Parlor of Horror site. Thanksgiving Day Surprise

Skin Job – release to be announced
For much of the year I decided to forego any other writing and only concentrate on this story for inclusion in the Terry M. West, Car-Nex series of stories and eBook releases. I figured it was the most important of any project and decided to put my full efforts behind it, turning down invitations to several other anthologies. I received word in November that my story was excepted for the project. I don’t have a definitive timeline on its release as of yet. Pleasant Storm Entertainment

Unleashed in the East
This story was published in the anthology, Kaiju: Lords of the Earth. I wrote this early in the year. It’s only about 10 pages (2,500 words), but I think it’s a very strong story with a solid emotional edge. ‘Unleashed…’ keeps in line with traditional Kaiju while adding a Lovecraftian twist. It is also inspired by a current event news item. I have to say there are only a few stories in this book that feel like true Kaiju stories to me. Kaiju to me has more to it than a giant monster. I based my story upon early Kaiju film ideas, plot-lines and messages. Hopefully it does honor the Kaiju genre respectfully. ‘Unleashed in the East’ in Kaiju: Lords of the Earth.

Christmas Lights
Here’s the 2nd flash fiction piece concerning holidays. It’s my Christmas gift to my followers. Read it for FREE here at Parlor of Horror. This is actually part of a series of flash fiction stories I’m writing dealing with the last few moments of life for each character. I plan on calling the series ‘Moments of Death’ or something close to it. Check it out here: Christmas Lights

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I finally set up a Goodreads Author Page for my published work in anthology books, You can check it out here: Michael Thomas-Knight – Goodreads

You can also check my Amazon Authors Page for the latest releases.
And join me on Facebook for discussions of horror and vintage monster model kits.

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Because of my illness this year, I didn’t have much time to write any articles or guest blog posts outside of my POH posts. I hope 2016 offers me more opportunities to write articles in the horror field. And I hope that any of you that wish to write fiction and haven’t taken that step toward getting your stories published will go for it in 2016! What do you have to loose? Feel free to ask me any questions about writing, submitting your work to publications, or even advice on your stories. I’m no expert but I’ll give you an unbiased opinion…and I read a lot of horror.

stomping grounds antho  Ghosts Revenge - JWK Fiction cover April 2015 - Sirens Call - 20 small Kaiju Lords of the Earth - web nightcarnexart copy

A Christmas gift for my readers – a flash fiction holiday story

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A short flash fiction story…Holiday Horror

Here’s a flash fiction piece for the Holiday.

Enjoy!

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Holiday Lights
By Michael Thomas-Knight

It takes me a minute to realize I am in real trouble. I grip the side of the chimney, thirty feet in the air, with a length of lit Christmas lights in my hand. I wanted to wrap the light string around the chimney from the side that was accessible from the roof peak to the side that stood in open air. I had attempted to throw the wire around the chimney like a lasso but it got caught up on the chimney cap. I reached out to get it and slipped off the roof shingles.

My arms strain to the threshold of pain as I try to regain purchase on the roof with my left foot. My right foot clings to a small nub in the brick, thirty feet in the air. I have no choice; I have to jump. I may sprain both ankles or even break a leg but I’ll deal with it. I notice how the colored lights illuminate the chimney and the skin of my arm, soft colors; red, green, blue and yellow. It would have looked fantastic if I had finished decorating, better than the Johnson’s house across the street. I finally had something that Ted Johnson couldn’t copy, a way to differentiate my home from his. His chimney is at the back of his house.

My arms can’t hold on any longer. I decide to push off with my feet so I won’t land too close to the chimney and scrape my face. I count to three and push. I fall a few feet and my journey is interrupted. I feel a hard tug on my neck and my body bounces back against the chimney brick. The string of lights is wrapped around my throat and cutting into my flesh. I kick my feet frantically to find some kind of purchase or to kick myself loose, either one. I try to grab the wire but it is embedded too deeply into my neck. I can’t breath and I gasp for air. My face turns red hot. I pull on the little twinkle bulbs to get my fingers under the green wire. It doesn’t work. I find the hanging end of the wire and pull on it forcefully, hoping to snap it and help it to unravel. It pulls plastic from wire and I feel jolts of electric current stiffen every muscle in my body. My body quivers a few moments and I feel heat. Flames rise before my eyes as my clothes catch fire. My vision fades and I pray the strangulation will take me before I feel the excruciating pain of my burning flesh. The flames engulf me. I hear the Johnson’s Dodge Durango pull up across the street and the doors open. Then I hear Ted Johnson say, “Holy Shit!”

I’ve finally topped his holiday decorations. I win.

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This story is part of a series of flash fiction I am writing that deals with the ‘moment of death’ for my characters. Another of the stories is posted on Halloweenforevermore.com (Eight Seconds of Torment). I intend to title the full body of work, Moments of Death or 99 Ways to Die, or something like that. Let me know your thoughts 🙂

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Happy Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving Day Surprise!

Thanksgiving-Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving for those readers who celebrate this holiday. 

Typically, I know there’s not much to do for the men on this Holiday besides watch football and eat turkey. For the women, I imagine you’ll be busy cooking, but if you have a few free moments, you may want to escape the day by reading this short.

For those of you that need a little horror entertainment I offer you this story,
Thanksgiving Day Surprise!
You may want to wait until after you eat to read this, Yeah it’s that kind of story.

Here’s my Thanksgiving Day present to you…

 

Thanksgiving Day Surprise
Michael Thomas-Knight

Millions of turkeys marched through suburban streets pecking and screeching, attacking anyone that happened to be caught outside. Their beaks pounded like sharpened jack hammers, breaking skin, shredding clothing, ripping flesh and leaving mangled corpses in their wake. They smashed their beaks into glass storm doors and diligently whittled through wooden doors to gain entry to homes.

Men and families with guns armed and defended themselves. Turkeys were shot but there were too many of them and not enough time to reload before being overcome by their aggression. Damn those magazine size restriction laws! Roger Banister had a dozen turkeys upon him, pecking at his face as he tried in vein to keep them at bay and reload his shotgun. There were just too many turkeys. One gave great aim and caught his eye, ripping it out of the socket with a bloody splash.

Roger woke with flailing arms and mumbled protest in the living room recliner. The family members present at the time laughed and chided him.
“Damn Roger, that must’ve been one hell of a nightmare,” Uncle Walter said.
Roger rubbed his face with his hand pulling it down to his chin. He blinked several times in succession. His wife handed him a cold bottle of water.
“Thanks, Jamie.”
“I told you not to start drinking so early in the day.”
The football game had just started on TV and they were yet to eat their traditional thanksgiving meal.
“What kind of nightmare was that?” Aunt Dee asked.
Aunt Dee was the spiritual guru of the family, always available for ghostly guidance and to light certain candles to promote peace and happiness in the home. Most of the family laughed at her eccentric ways but not in a mean spirited way. They accepted her for who she was. However Roger didn’t want her rolling around inside his head with analysis. He kept it short and simple.
“It was weird; I dreamed there were millions of Turkey’s attacking everyone.”
“That’s your guilt. The guilt you feel for this yearly slaughter of the Turkey species,” Aunt Dee said.
“I will tell you one thing. When I eat ma’s turkey, I don’t feel any guilt at all, so you are way off on that one,” said Roger.
“Do you realize leading up to the last Thursday in November forty-six million turkeys are slaughtered,” Aunt Dee said.
“It also means over a million Americans eat a decent home cooked meal on this day rather than the fast food garbage they eat all week because of their hectic schedules,” Roger said.
Jamie added, “You’re right about one thing, the turkey should be honored on this day.”
“The turkey is honored on this day. You see the big turkey decoration Ma hangs on the front door? She don’t hang a picture of George Washington out there on Presidents day. Does she?” Uncle Walt said.
Without looking up from the TV Pop said, “Yes, she does.”
Aunt Dee ended the discussion with, “Well I’m a vegetarian and have no guilt to give me nightmares on Thanksgiving.”

 

The rest of the night went down as usual, Uncle Walt told inappropriate stories about his life as a single bachelor. Aunt Dee told him karma would one day pay him a visit.
“Until then, I’m gonna’ have the time of my life!” Walt said. “I’ve tried positions that the Karma Sutra don’t even know about.”
Aunt Gloria covered her son Billy’s ears and yelled at Walt. Not that it mattered, little Billy, even at ten years old, was oblivious to what Walt was saying.
“That boy is dumb as a stump,” Walt said. “He don’t even know we’re talking about him.”
“He’s my son, and I love him, but when you’re right, you’re right,” Uncle Bob said. Aunt Gloria threw her husband a scornful glance.
Billy looked up from his mashed potatoes, where he had built a moat for his turkey gravy and noticed everyone looking at him.
“What?” he said, just proving the point Uncle Walt had made.

Roger’s wife insinuated that Ma would’ve had dinner ready hours ago if she weren’t nipping the cooking Sherry. Pops accented the night by farting in the living room and clearing the area of all living things, including Muffy, ma’s scruffy little dog. The family always had a good laugh about Ma naming the dog Muffy, saying she had latent lesbian tendencies. Ma yelled at dad about controlling his bodily functions and Pop blamed Ma’s cooking.
Turkey surprise 1It was just after 9:30 when Roger and Jamie returned home. Their daughter, Krista, in the back seat had not pulled the ear-buds from her ears since morning, not even to eat turkey. The only sign that she was actually alive was the constant movement of her thumbs on her I-Phone screen. She left the car first and waited by the front door.
“Ya know, she could’ve wrote a damn novel by now if she had half a brain,” Roger said to his wife.
Jamie punched him in the arm, “That’s our daughter you’re talking about.”
Everyone was asleep by Eleven PM, groggy from Turkey and mentally exhausted from spending the day with their extended family.

At two in the morning Roger woke in a sweat. His wide eyes darted around the room and he jumped from the bed. Jamie was not in bed, but that was not his concern. He walked to the front windows to see what was happening outside. Flashing lights, red and white, illuminated the window shade. He wiped the sweat building on his forehead with the back of his hand. He moved the curtain aside and peeked out. Turkeys! The Turkeys were attacking. His nightmare had come true. He slipped on his pants and a shirt and rushed from his room. He stopped by the bathroom and heard his wife throwing up.
“Honey are you alright?” He asked through the closed door.
“Yes, just sick,” she managed to get out before heaving into the bowl once more.
Downstairs he opened the gun cabinet in the den. He needed to defend his family from these killer turkeys. He armed himself with a loaded shotgun and a pistol. He stuffed extra shells for the shotgun in his top shirt pocket.

He snuck out the back door and made his way to the front of the house using the bushes as cover. In the street, turkeys were gathered in gaggles, chortling and gobbling, while police stood behind their open car doors with guns drawn. Then he saw it. Several of the police were turkeys too, large turkeys wearing police hats and badges. The police had been infiltrated, and were now on the side of the turkeys.

Roger stood and took aim with his pistol. He fired six shots taking out many of the gathered fowl before anyone even knew what was taking place. The turkeys dispersed, running wild, in circles and bumping each other. The police turned to Roger and started firing. He took aim with his shot gun and got Turkey surprise 3off one shot as the police opened fire on him, killing him.

Overnight, fifty million Americans would perish from a mutated strain of the avian flu. It was labeled the mad turkey disease by the press. Millions of people ate turkeys on Thanksgiving. About half of those turkeys were tainted with the new virus strain. Many would perish in their beds with an escalating fever and unquenchable thirst, sweat pouring from their pores as they experienced fever dreams. Others went mad as their brains boiled in the heat of their own blood. Those with guns aimed them at family or themselves, pulling the trigger as a release from the blistering pain. Others were shot in stand-offs with the police after shooting neighbors indiscriminately. Some made it to hospitals and were treated; still others did not get sick at all. However, the year will always be remembered as the year turkeys got their revenge.

Ironically, Aunt Dee survived the weekend, but would perish only a few weeks later when a drunk driver in an SUV crashed with her car head on.

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Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Part X

skeleton-writing-letter

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Part X

The Secrets of Writing Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is a story form that is really short, usually from 100 to 1000 words. It is not a vignette, it is not a commentary on an event, it is a full story with a plot and conclusion. If you attempt writing some flash fiction you will find it is often harder to write good short fiction than longer works.

How I approach flash fiction writing is by breaking it into the three act story format, but I title them:

Conflict
Action/reaction
Resolution

In a flash fiction piece it is important to start your story in the conflict, or very close to it. You usually don’t want to rely on back-story for flash fiction because it will eat up your word count. You might need a few sentences but keep it minimal. You’ll want to make your story be told in one scene, one location, and in one piece.

1st act – character introduction, initial conflict, dilemma
2nd act – the action the character takes to resolve the conflict or dilemma
3rd act – The results of the main character’s action to solve the conflict and the change in the situation.

Theoretically you can do this in three paragraphs.

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It is important to have a great first sentence, a grabber that will get people to read your story. It should do one (or more) of three things:

– It should make the reader ask themselves a question that needs to be answered.
– It should put them in a situation that they are curious about.
– It should make them feel instant camaraderie or empathy for your main character.

The climax of the story should be at the end of the second act when the MC has taken action to solve the dilemma and the conflict is escalated to its peak. The third act should be short and bring everything back to normal, to a new normal, or to a realization of what the future of the MC will be.

Naturally, these are just guidelines and exceptions to the format always exist.

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Here are a couple of opening sentences, grabbers, that I’ve used from some of my most frequently read stories on the internet:

The moment old lady Ambrose bent over to look in my basement window, I hit her in the back of the head with a hammer…
from my story Upstanding Citizen on the Carnage Conservatory

I love the dead. Their cooling flesh, pale blue tone, and relaxed muscles produce an exquisite experience within my fingers…
from my story Aberration on microhorror.com

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Extremely short fiction can have an implied aspect to it. Much of the story can take place in your head after the story is read. Following are some examples.

The shortest stories ever written:

Ex. 1:
For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.

This two sentence piece is often attributed to Hemingway.

Ex. 2:
James woke one night in his dark bedroom with the notion that someone was in the room with him. When he reached for his glasses on the nightstand, they were placed in his hand.

Unknown author.

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“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

“A short story is a different thing all together – a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.” ― Stephen King, Skeleton Crew

“You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money’s in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.”
– Larry Niven