The writer’s workshop

A lot of trawling and procrastinating last night lead to the (misguided) belief that I need to write more… things. I’m talking short stories, flash fiction, things that come in at less than 3,000 words and you’ll be lucky to net more than $30 for were it to get printed. But I don’t know where to begin. It’s not like you start at the beginning and the rest just happens – and even though that’s the case I still can’t come up with a beginning.

With that in mind, I’ve opted to unleash some openers I’ve been working on. While this has taken over my life for what seems like forever (read: an hour or so), I’m ready to let you all in on these testers for the world of fiction that awaits me.

“Once upon a time lived a Nazi. He was big, fat, smelly and nasty to all the children in the area…”

See, this one doesn’t work as I can only think of the word ‘area’, and that’s a terrible word to use. ‘Region’ is even worse. Still – it’s a fine main character for the fantasy genre and an inventive opening gambit, so at least it’s something to work from. I just need to sex it up a bit to really grab the attention of people. With that in mind, howsabout this one:

“I walked swiftly into the office, barely paying attention to the uncomfortable surroundings I had thrown myself into – here was a man you could safely describe as ‘monied’. I made my way through the vast, oaken office to where the body lay, still harbouring a faint look of surprise in his otherwise glassy eyes. It only took a cursory glance at this champion of industry to see how he had met his maker.

There was no doubt about it: he had been bummed to death.”

See, while that’s a sexed-up intro, I can’t help but feel I’m just ripping off Raymond Chandler word for word. I mean, I’d try that with Bukowski but he wrote from personal experience, so mine would come across like this:

“It’s hard to grow up right when you’re living in a comfortable, small town on the outskirts of a safe, clean, major city in the north of England. With parents like these: financially secure; caring enough to help deal with any problems that arise; not too controlling that you’re not allowed to do anything; the kind who keep the cupboards consistently stocked with tasty treats – it’s even harder.”

The main thing it’s missing, in being a Bukowski rip-off, is the sense of poetry to the prose. I mean, I think the content is on a par with the suffering that ugly bastard went through – Swinton = Skid Row, clearly – but I just don’t have the literary faculties necessary to craft the language like the wino wordsmith did. Other than that, I’d say it’s a solid 7/10.

Maybe one day I’ll be good enough, but right now I’ll just have to settle for being a poor imitation of everyone else in the world. I am Legion.

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