First Draft Fiction is Moving!

The new address is Follow us there!

Having this blog hosted at has been great, but there are some things I want to try that I can’t do in their environment, so I’ve set up a “self-hosted” version of this blog on a new host. The same articles are there, and everything else up to this post. The same, but slightly different.

I will no longer be updating this copy of the blog, and a few weeks from now will be paying to have this one redirect to the other location. That redirection, however, will only be for a limited period of time, so if you want to keep following me you’ll have to do so at the new URL:

See you there!

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Prison Break Backstory

[I’m working to develop the world for my next NaNoWriMo story. Here’s my first stab at the backstory behind it. What do you think?]

Once upon a time there were two kingdoms, Yasgur and Addison. Yasgur was located in the southern part of the land, and had warm weather and a laid-back attitude, while Addison was to the north, with colder weather and more competitiveness. Both kingdoms were quite modern, with recognizable technologies and some rather advanced innovations, especially in the area of biotechnology.

There was a conflict between the two, a war if you will. It was short and bloody, as conflicts between such modern actors will be. The cause is irrelevant, the outcome perhaps predictable. Addison was on the verge of wiping out Yasgur, and possibly being wiped out in return, when an accommodation was reached. A cessation of hostilities, guaranteed by an exchange of hostages. These being kingdoms the hostages were members of the two royal families, children of the two kings, who were quite young at the time.

That ended the fighting, and for Yasgur the war as well, but the kingdom of Addison was not so easily deterred. While Yasgur went about rebuilding itself, Addison started a two-pronged strategy to conquer its neighbor in such subtle ways that it wouldn’t realized the war was still being fought.

The first prong was corruption. Yasgur was ruled by a king, true, but his rule was guided by a parliament made up of leaders of the major houses and representatives of the people. Key members of parliament, people of influence, received bribes in the form of campaign support and monies with the only expectation being that they would vote as Addison directed on certain measures.

The second prong was infiltration. The damage done to Yasgur’s economy and military left many opportunities for rapid advancement, and Addison was able to place agents inside both who advanced in position and power as those institutions were rebuilt.

There was a third prong, intelligence, but this was really quite a minor thing, since it was an area in which Addison had long excelled. Addison’s development of drones for information gathering and remote strike ability proceeded unabated by the cessation of hostilities. By contrast, Yasgur focused its technology advancements on animal-cyborg developments as a way to supplement its decimated workforce.

Several years after “the end of the war” Addison implemented the final phase of its plan. The king of Yasgur suffered an “accident” and the resulting power vacuum was filled by a minister on Addison’s payroll, who promptly urged closer ties between the two kingdoms. The motion passed by the narrowest of margins, and was reaffirmed not long afterward by a hotly contested election which nonetheless resulted in a large majority of seats in the hands of the pro-Unification party. Soon after the king of Addison was crowned king of the United Kingdom of Malum, and the purges began.

And what of the hostages? When the king of Yasgur died his children were “discarded” as no longer necessary. His eldest son wound up in the biotech labs as an experimental subject, while the younger was dumped into an orphanage that fed into the military academy.

The king of Addison’s children fared slightly better, being distributed into the foster care system and effectively lost in the bureaucracy. They were a son and a daughter, by different wives. The king went on to father more children, so reintroducing them into the succession would prove awkward, thus they were pronounced “dead” complete with state funerals so that his younger children could inherit.

A decade later a coup occurred that resulted in the death of the king and the ascension of a young, charismatic leader whose swift rise to power was attributed to a magical power of persuasion. He cemented his rule via the bloodiest, most repressive tactics imaginable, making full use of the latest technologies. Those in opposition were branded “traitors” and “terrorists” and most were simply killed, but a few select members were instead imprisoned in a high security facility located in a small town far from the capital.

This is where our story begins.

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What’s another word for “jackbooted thug”?

Soldiers of the Death Star crew (the parade at...

Soldiers of the Death Star crew (the parade at DragonCon 2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m trying to come up with the name of the bad guys in my NaNoWriMo story, the ones who are perpetuating “outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.”

You know, the bad guys!

My rough plot outline calls them “storm troopers” which some people associate with Nazis, or the Empire of Star Wars, so I’m trying to come up with a better name. My process is to feed a word into an online thesaurus and jot down the words that seem interesting or spark a new idea. Rinse and repeat.

So far I have: Storm trooper, national guard, imperial guard, legionnaire, ranger, militia, shock trooper, conquistador, commando, marine, paratrooper, soldier, beret, cop, police, deputy, sheriff, lawman, patrol, peacer, proctor, agent, prober, steward, shepherd, inquisitor, interrogator, enforcer, butcher, executioner, liquidator, disciplinarian, teacher, instructor, preceptor, coach, counselor, guide, mentor, monitor, chaperone, minder, duenna, escort, docent, trainer, companion, squire, servant, custodian, usher, sherpa, sergeant, …

What do you think? Which term suggests a most interesting society, one that would use it as the “Official” name of it’s jackbooted thugs?

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Prison Break Rough Plot Outline

The Acre prison after the break

The Acre prison after the break (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m in the process of developing a story idea for November’s NaNoWriMo. I’m calling this one Prison Break. Here’s my initial, very rough plot outline:

The overall story starts with a scene where there’s a mass breakout from the prison where the Protagonist, John Boomer, and his sycophant Sidekick, Alec Leach, are being held (for crimes unspecified.) Alec leads John out of prison and off to a hideout.

The hideout is owned/controlled by Mary Something, a woman who knows how to deal with Alec but is flummoxed by John. She watches out for John while Alec goes out snooping around the neighborhood.

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How to Pick a Pen Name

How to Pick a Pen Name by Prof. Reed LaiterA light-hearted approach to creating names for your characters, How to Pick a Pen Name includes resources for two hundred thousand names, plus links to online name creation resources and suggestions for just winging it. Prof. Laiter has been doing this for nearly eight hours, so he clearly knows what he’s talking about!

This is his first ever publication attempt, and wound up going in a much different direction than Prof. Laiter ever anticipated. It was written in response to the Eight-Hour Self-publishing Challenge. I’m already looking forward to his next book, “How to Pick Your Nose”.

Price $0.99. Less than the price of a tea bag at Writers & Books.

Buy it on Amazon!

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I Want a Speed Writing App!

The first key to writing is… to write, not to think! – Forrester in Finding Forrester

car in the parking lotI’m trying to figure out how to make myself a better writer, and for me one of the big challenges is to turn off my “inner editor” so that I just put words on paper first, and go back to edit them later. Writing and editing are two separate processes, yet it is so easy for me to judge what I’ve just written and to attempt to clean it up immediately rather than leaving it for later. As a result I write more slowly than I want to, than I feel I am capable of.

“But,” you might say, “writing is not a race! It’s not about who gets there first or puts out the most words, but rather who writes the BEST words!”

Well haven’t your heard? “Quantity has a quality of its own.” By writing more words quickly you have more opportunities to learn from your mistakes, and in the end learning to be a better writer is what it’s all about.

To this end I need to learn to disconnect my typing from my editing process, to get the thoughts out and not to worry about how I may have misspelled something, or to clean up the flow of my thoughts, or even to debate within myself whether I really want to say that at all. I need to write, not to think. Thinking comes later.

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Love to Obsession to Madness Story Arc

[Please note that this is not a chapter or scene from my current WIP, A Bite of the Apple. Rather it is a synopsis of one of the arcs in that story that I’m trying to flesh out and include in the story. I’m posting it here mostly so I can get feedback on it, particularly suggestions for how to show Regan’s descent into madness rather than telling about it like I do here. And yes, I realize that at the end some other junk starts cluttering things up. I started writing it, and then realized that I had already completed the arc by that point – Regan had become completely mad, and anything more would be about the result of her madness and not about how she got that way.

And, like I say at the end, the resolution of her madness is a different part of the story!]

Regan is in love with Julien. Deeply, deeply in love, and getting in deeper every year.

At first it’s pure bliss. Regan loves Julien, Julien loves Regan, a perfect match. Yes, Julien loves Genevieve, too, but it’s natural for a father to love his daughter. And maybe he hugs her a little tighter than normal, or kisses her more, or pays her a bit more attention than normal, but that’s to be expected from a father who’s been raising his motherless daughter on his own for three years before marrying Regan. He’s not afraid to admit that he sees her dead mother in her, a woman whom he loved deeply before Regan ever came on the scene.

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A Bite of the Apple – Fight with the Council

“It’s too soon, Maurice! I’m not ready.” King Julien stood before the Royal Council in their Chamber, a horseshoe shaped room located at the base of the central building of Schloss Rubintal. Central heat had been added and the room remodeled decades ago, but the air was still cool and reeked of medieval tradition. Paneling dark with age graced the walls, echoed in the padded wooden benches that surrounded the carved wooden throne on three sides. The space between council and throne was small, on purpose. It kept the Crown close to the Council, and prevented the Council from growing any larger. The King was pacing the small space for all it was worth.

“Tell me, Sire — do you love her?” Maurice was the Royal Confidant, official interlocutor between the King and the Council. A position of power, to be sure, but definitely neither King nor Chief Councilor.

“Yes! No! I don’t know! It … it just doesn’t feel right.”

“But Sire, it’s been nearly three years. Little Genevieve has been without a mother long enough. This kingdom has been without a queen long enough. And as much as she needs a mother, and we need a queen, you need a wife even more.”

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A Bite of the Apple – Back to New York

That night after dinner Regan and Julien took a boat out into the middle of the lake, just the two of them. They watched as the crescent moon set behind the surrounding peaks.

“My! It gets dark out here when the moon sets.” Regan pulled her coat tight around her and leaned back into Julien’s arms.

“That’s because we don’t have all that much development.” He wrapped his arms around her and spoke softly into her ear. “But the castle is still lit up. Take a look!”

She turned to look at the castle, which was dark but for the lights glittering at the windows. This brought their faces together, a golden excuse for a kiss which Julien took advantage of. After a long minute Regan wasn’t feeling the cold any more.

“Look over there on the hillsides, you’ll see many of our farmsteads and hamlets. During the day you wouldn’t even know they were there, but at night their lights give them away.” Regan turned her attention to the darkened hills where the occasional window light indicated the presence of humanity. There were no lights at all visible where the forest came to drink at the lake, a black mass that climbed up and up until …

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A Bite of the Apple – After the Ball

“My feet are killing me!” Regan flopped down on a sofa in the suite room she shared with Renee and Amanda. It was well after midnight, and the only reason she was still awake was because she hadn’t fully adjusted to the time zone. It seemed like she had danced with every stuffy little man in the kingdom, and then some. When she finally made it back to her room her bed was turned down and a maid was waiting to help her with her dress. She gladly traded it for a dressing gown, but she wasn’t quite ready for bed.

Amanda came out of her room. “Why did you dance with so many men?”

“I didn’t have a choice! They were all lined up waiting to ‘get to know’ me. I think they wanted to make sure I had the stamina to be queen.”

“You, queen? Really?”

“Yeah. That’s what this whole trip is about — to see if I’m worthy of Julien’s continued attentions or if he should drop me and go woo someone else.”

Renee entered the room carrying a bottle of brandy and some glasses. No more champagne for him! “Here, my dear, have some of this. It’s really excellent, and should help you get to sleep.” He poured glasses all around.

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