[Reading Room] We Was Twins by Fiona Maazel

This story takes place against the backdrop (as they say) of the Occupy Wall St movement. As well as being a really good story, it’s a great example of how you can take a hot news story and use it to ground your story without risking it seeming dated, later.

How does that author do this? Well, let me set the scene for you. Continue reading “[Reading Room] We Was Twins by Fiona Maazel”

[Reading Room] The Dome by Steven Millhauser

I’m not sure when this story was written so I’m not sure if it predates or post-dates other stories about cities within domes, but when a story is this well-written it hardly matters.

This story is fascinating in several ways. Firstly, the writing is just great. If you like language, and like a little humor in your stories, get a copy of this (you can find it at Selected Shorts, read by Alec Baldwin, who does a great job).

Second, it breaks rules — or at least bends them. I’m always reading that stories have to have a character and the character has to want something. This story does not seem (at first) to have a character. And it’s not at all clear who wants what. But it turns out that the ‘character’ could be said to be ‘humanity’. Later in the story it becomes clear that if there is a protagonist, it is the contemporary group of dome-dwelling humans of which the narrator is one.

But it’s refreshing to read something so engaging that breaks from expected patterns and still manages to hold the reader’s attention all the way through.

Steven Millhauser won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his novel Martin Dressler, which prompted publishers to bring some of his older story collections back into print. I’m off to see if I can get hold of some of them…

[Writing Prompt] Affectionate Spoofing

The Write On Wednesday story prompts are designed to prompt quickly-written stories that you can share in the comments. It’s a warm-up exercise, to loosen up your creativity muscles. Come back every Wednesday to see a new prompt or subscribe.


Lassie, July 29, 2006

“What’s that girl? Timmy’s stuck in the old well?”

We all have TV shows that we love even though they are formulaic, populated by ‘character types’ rather than characters, and a real guilty pleasure. And we keep watching them, even if we don’t always admit our deep, abiding love for them to our more sophisticated friends.

So why do we watch? Because on some level they satisfy a need for escapism, heroism, humour, idealism. They may even have moments of brilliance that keep us coming back for more.

(For me, it’s Star Trek, Murder She Wrote and almost anything featuring Robin Hood or King Arthur).

We know the hero is (almost) always going to win. We know none of the major recurring characters are going to die. We know the bad guy will get what he deserves — even if it’s only the frowning disapproval of the hero.

THE PROMPT

Write An Affectionate Parody/Spoof of Your Favourite Formulaic Show

Tips

*If you need inspiration, track down a copy of “Heart of A Champion” by T. C. Boyle, a wonderful parody of the Lassie stories.
*Don’t be lazy. Don’t just reach for inappropriate romance or make the characters stupid. (Check out Jon Scalzi’s “Redshirts” as an example. It starts as a fairly unimaginative parody of the action scenes in “Star Trek” (you know, the ones where the no-name ensign in a red shirt goes on an away mission and gets eaten by pink slime to prove that the landing party faces some peril) but moves on to a more thoughtful and affectionate examination of science fiction tropes.

 

The Rules:

  • You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
  • You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  • Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
  • Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

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