Posts tagged with “Short Story Writing”

TRAMBLINGS…

Monday, 10 August, 2009

I posted a short hit and miss a couple minutes ago and then realized that was pretty lame.  Haven’t been here in awhile for a few reasons. 1) New job. 2) Facebook 3) Twitter.

As I stated before the new show is MERCY on NBC.  You can watch videos HERE, follow on TWITTER or join the FACEBOOK FAN PAGE.  The show premieres September 23rd at 8 p.m. and I will have my fingers crossed until then.  The writers room on this show is larger than my last one.  12 writers and 2 medical consultants but like the previous two groups (knock on wood) a great bunch of storytellers.  I am really excited about what we’ve come up with so far.  Can’t wait for you guys to see for yourselves.

So, remember last year, when I posted the opening to my short story and told you how the ending kept getting away from me?  Well, I finally wrestled it to the ground.  It was published today at  POPCORN FICTION and I couldn’t be happier.    Check out A BEST FRIEND NAMED RICK and then take a look at some of the OTHER STORIES. Hope you enjoy!

In other news, I finished THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO while I was on a short, but sweet, vacation.  Stayed up until 5a.m. just to find out what happened.  Right now I am making my way through his latest, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE.

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Nicely done.  Now, tell me what you’re reading.

TRAMBLINGS

Tuesday, 6 February, 2007

TRAMBLINGS. . .

Here is the opening of the short story I used to get into my new program. I had to submit a short story and a television spec. I wrote this two or three years ago and have been tweaking it ever since. It’s a total of 20 pages. It zings along like a beast until about page 18 and then it implodes on itself. I think I rushed the ending but I don’t have time to work on it now. Anyway, this is the opening.

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Lloyd was sure there were worse things. He knew that if he sat down and thought about it long enough he could come up with at least ten things more fucked up than being caught pumping gas in a clown costume in front of his ex-wife and his former best friend, but at that moment he couldn’t imagine anything shittier than the smug look on their faces. It wasn’t an accident that the two of them were at his gas station. Everybody in town knew he’d been hired at Uncle Ray’s Petroleum Emporium his first week out of lock-up so he was easy to find.

Besides, Emerick and Linda weren’t the first of the old crowd to stop by. A few of his buddies from the high school wrestling team, and one or two from the Circuit City he used to manage had made a special trip to fill up their tanks, and welcome him home, but once they saw him in his rainbow wig and circus tent duds their enthusiasm withered. After awhile his friends didn’t even bother to stop as they passed by on the outer highway. The most they managed was a surfer’s greeting – which meant shit in their landlocked state – but Lloyd curled his fist, extended his thumb and pinky and threw it back at them. He knew it was hard for his buddies to see him in such a sorry-ass position so he didn’t hold a grudge.

When he first got out, before their pitiful looks got to him, he’d tried to hit on a blond in a convertible coupe and she’d laughed so hard at his proposition he’d forgotten to ask for her money. Uncle Ray made him pay for that mistake out of his own pocket. He yelled at him in front of a carload of teenagers then forced him to climb a ladder and tether the special-order parade clown to the top of the building. Up there, barefoot in his clown suit, and looking out toward the lake he realized just how far his star had fallen.

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Maybe that made you laugh, maybe it made you cry. I’ve heard both. Lloyd’s day, by the way, gets worse from there but he reaches a conclusion at the end that sends him a new direction. Originally, Lloyd was going to die a fiery death at the gas station in his clown suit. Just kidding. Wanted to make sure you guys were paying attention.

The story came about one night when my sister and I were chattering on the phone at two o’clock in the morning. She was punchy, I was delirious but we kept talking. The conversation got more outrageous as it went along until, eventually, I said something about a clown pumping gas and abracadabera a story was born.

Until next time. . .

TRAMBLINGS

Friday, 9 June, 2006

TRAMBLINGS. . .

THIS is where I go when I am feeling homesick. Courtesy of the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE a photoblog by Frederic Larson devoted to BAY AREA SCENES.

A couple months ago a friend of the Crown Prince me asked me to help him with a writing project. I HATE THOSE REQUESTS! Especially when the translation is. . . “I’ll tell you a story (about my life) and you write it down.” I usually smile, nod and reference my deadlines but there was something about him, and his project, that made me listen. I’m glad I did. My friend is a native French speaker and mostly my “help” has come from wading through his accent, and his search for the proper English word, in order to get his ideas on the page. The story is all his and it’s EXCELLENT. I am actually very excited about the project. We get together two or three times a week for a couple of hours to talk through his scenes and make changes to old ones. We work well together and our writing personalities mesh with relative ease. The first week. Scratch that – the first two weeks were spent trying to decipher his accent but now I can finish his sentences. I say we have about a month of work left. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

In other writing news, I got three rejection letters in one week for the same short story. Here’s what they said:

LITERARY MAGAZINE # 1: “Thanks for sending Tramble’s story. I liked the set-up but thought it lost it’s footing toward the end. Send us more.”

LITERARY MAGAZINE #2: “Thank you for sending along Nichelle Tramble’s story. Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. There was a lot to love in this story, particularly the main character’s description of wrestling. But, unfortunately, in the end we couldn’t come to a consensus so we will have to pass. We were very impressed by Tramble’s work and hope you’ll send more to us in the future.”

LITERARY MAGAZINE # 3: A form letter.

I can’t comment on letter number three but there is definite truth to letter number one. The story does lose it’s way at the end. I can see that now. I wrote the story last year and my agent started to send it out at the holidays. Responses are just starting to trickle in now. And, since, I haven’t really touched the story in months I can look at it with fresh eyes. It clicks along at the beginning, has some funny stuff in the middle, and then it just blows it’s brains out on the last three pages. I think I was frustrated, tired and ready to wrap it up so I tied a neat little bow on the end. The story deserves more than that so I’ll go back in to do the heavy lifting and excavation work after I submit it to my writers group.

The ending isn’t horrible which is why my agent agreed to send it out in the first place but it doesn’t honor the whole of the story. My friend, JEBEDIAH REED gave me some kick-ass notes awhile back so I’ll combine his with those of my writer group and see what I get. Maybe I’ll post them here once I put them together.

Speaking of rejection letters for those of you who get really discouraged. The worst one I ever got was back in 1989 and it didn’t stop me. What’s that expression, “You can let a bad review spoil your breakfast but not your lunch.” True. True. Anyway, the letter simply said, “Pedestrian and without art. Writer displays little or no talent.” DAMN! I still have it and I still have the three rejection letters I got from the same agency that represents me now. Take from that what you will.

Lastly, I work with a great independent EDITOR if anyone is in need of a manuscript evaluation. As you know from this blog I abuse and misuse the daylights out of commas so I employ someone to help me with my grammar issues. TAMAR LOVE edited THE DYING GROUND before I submitted it to RANDOM HOUSE and they subsequently hired her on as a freelancer. She ain’t cheap but good work never is and never should be. My only warning to those of you who are self-published and haven’t gone through a traditional editing process – GROW A THICK SKIN! Part of the writer process includes taking your knocks, using what you can to grow as a writer and understanding that not every morsel typed on your computer, or written in longhand, is golden. Sometimes you have to kill your babies as the saying goes. If you love it, there’s always a good chance that you’ll get the chance to use it later. Edit it out if it has no place, mourn it and move on.

I had five chapters in the original, melodramatic version of THE DYING GROUND that I just loved but I had to let it go. I resisted before I realized the need to “kill my baby” on my own but I finally saved the pages to another file and placed the hard copy on the shelf. Looks like parts of it will reappear in Book Three but there are no guarantees.

Until next time. . .

TRAMBLINGS

Wednesday, 30 March, 2005

More on the short story I’ve told you guys about. It’s still making the rounds. I still have hope. The rejection letters, if you can invest in my delusion for a moment, fall very much in the “hopeful, encouraging, good-rejection-letter” category. A category that actually exists along with Form Letter Rejection, Bad to the Point of Being Hateful Rejection, Please Try Us Again Rejection, and the classic, ever-popular Never Even Bothered to Open the Envelope. Back in the day when I submitted stories on my own I got the last one all the time. This time around I think my agency’s letterhead is responsible for the quick read and thoughtful responses.

Anyway, here is the verbage from the latest rejection letter. “The Tramble is interesting, but it’s way too long and loosely constructed, and reminiscent of the (BIG NAME AUTHOR) story we published not long ago. We have to pass but thanks for the look.”

First off, I really like being referred to as The Tramble. That put me in a really good mood. So, from now on when you send me emails address them to The Tramble. I am keeping that for myself. Second, the editor might have a point about the story being too long. It’s one of the longest stories I’ve ever written and there are probably places I can trim the fat. My agent disagrees and so does my first reader so I’ll wait until we’ve completed the first round of submissions before I cut anything major. The BIG NAME AUTHOR is a writer I admire so that was nice to hear but I read the story referred to in the letter and I don’t quite agree with the comparison. I’m flattered but don’t agree. Third, the rejection came directly from the Senior Editor and that’s what I found encouraging.

Anyway, I’ll post the others as they come in unless it’s a form letter or something that has reduced me to tears. In the meantime, if you’re looking for good short stories don’t forget to subscribe (I almost wrote prescribe) to ONE STORY, TIN HOUSE, ZOETROPE or BLACK CLOCK. You can read an excerpt from one of my favorite new authors CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE at the ONE STORY website. Adichie, if you remember, was the winner of the ZORA NEALE HURSTON / RICHARD WRIGHT FOUNDATION DEBUT FICTION AWARD for her novel, PURPLE HIBISCUS. I was a judge along with David Haynes and Donna Hemans in 2004. Here is another STORY published in Granta’s December issue.

Moving on. What is wrong with casting directors? On every season of PROJECT GREENLIGHT (and this one is no different) the casting director has behaved as if it’s “their” movie and they are the most important part of the equation. What a weird stance to take. I’m not downplaying their role in the production of a movie but from my seat on the couch it’s a role, a part, not the sum. Though I have to say that JOHN GULAGER is an interesting guy, a special little walrus who seems to have more talent than the folks they’ve picked in the past. Can’t wait to see the end result of all of this.

Until next time. . .

TRAMBLINGS

Thursday, 24 March, 2005

This just MAKES ME ILL. Pyramid Lake is beautiful and I love seeing it whenever we travel to or from on Highway 5. I am not believing the “authorities” who are saying that the drinking supply and wildlife are fine. 42,000 gallons of crude oil and we’re supposed to believe it won’t harm the drinking water in the L.A. Basin. Okay. That sounds right.

Once again Miss Valerie sent an INTERESTING LINK. I realized just how big Christian lit was when I spoke on the panel in Tulsa, OK. In the morning before the group sessions started I met with individual writers who had submitted writing samples to the conference. I read twenty stories and at least sixteen of those were Christian themed.

When my web designer put this site together she included a page that allows me to find out how many hits I receive and what websites refer them here. What is really interesting are the search words used to bring people to the site. Here is a random sampling.

1) KIMORA LEE SIMMONS nude pictures. Sorry don’t have any nude photos of anybody on this site. But a quick hello to the 500 of you (yep, 500) who used those five little words to make their way here.

2) SHEA HEMBREY artwork. And from what I understand Shea just completed a few new pieces. We should be so lucky as to own one of his paintings.

3) Critical analysis of THE LAST KING. I suspect that these searchers had term papers due. This happened last fall as well.

4) TRAMBLE FEET which I am not going to link to because, apparently, it’s some kind of porno item. I haven’t looked them/it up because I don’t want to get trapped in porno hell but I have had a great time trying to imagine what this could be. My sisters and I couldn’t come up with anything without breaking into laughter but, damn, learn something new every day. If you guys are brave enough to look email me and let me know what they are but DON’T be graphic or gross.

5) The other inquiries were IDRIS ELBA, THE SHIELD, PROJECT RUNWAY, KARA SAUN, EAST OAKLAND BLOODS, CANE CORSO PIT BULL ATTACKS, SHROUD ADVERTISEMENTS ON SCAFFOLDING, ANGRY BLACK WHITE BOY and THE WIRE.

The top five referring website besides yahoo, google, dogpile and technorati were. . .

1) SARAH WEINMAN

2) ABSOLUTE WRITE which seems like a great website. I’d never heard of it until a posting over there sent people my way.

3) THUMPER’S CORNER.

4) LEE GOLDBERG, CALIFORNIA AUTHORS, MYSTERY OF A SHRINKING VIOLET, L.A. OBSERVED and NAKED CARTHWHEELS.

5) BEATRICE.

Kinda random, isn’t it?

Moving on. Yesterday at 8 a.m. I encountered a couple (mid 30s) waiting outside a bakery with their infant daughter. As I walked up they started to French kiss with a commitment I haven’t seen high school. I mean, really, beyond teenagers who haven’t had the fear of God put in them by their parents who kisses with tongue at 8a.m. WHO DOES THAT? It caught me so off guard I almost tripped. It was so odd I wanted to ask them about it but I just kept on my way.

Another rejection letter on the short story that is currently making the rounds. This time they didn’t object to the profanity but here is what they said, “I finally read the story by Nichelle Tramble that you sent to me last month. In fact I read it twice because there is a lot there. But when it comes down to it I don’t think it’s the right fit for our readers. I would love to see any other short fiction by Tramble.” Not bad as far as rejections go but I have to admit this publication was in the Top Three on my wish list.

Until next time. . .

TRAMBLINGS

Friday, 18 March, 2005

VARIETY reporting that HBO HAS RENEWED THE WIRE for another season. Read more about the series HERE. And if you need a IDRIS ELBA/STRINGER BELL fix watch SOMETIMES IN APRIL on March 19th.

In Wyoming last year I started to read THE KITE RUNNER by KHALED HOSSEINI. The book was on the shelf in my room but I only got through the first chapter before my residency was up. Back in California I read one great review after another and finally gobbled the book in two days this weekend. Hosseini deserved every word of praise that he received. THE KITE RUNNER is available in paperback. Pick it up if you can.

Over at BEATRICE Jennifer Weiner RESPONDS to the Meg Wolitzer’s essay about chicklit. Loved how she dubbed Wolitzer and her ilk “Gray Ladies.”

Lastly, I wrote a short story last year that my agent started to send out in January. Two weeks ago I received the funniest rejection letter of my career. It said, “The Tramble piece is interesting. Nice writing. Unfortunately, there is too much profanity for our publication. Please send more of this author’s work.”

Until next time. . .

TRAMBLINGS

Friday, 10 September, 2004

Turned in the short story for the anthology which leaves me free to complete the new novel. Short stories, in my opinion, are second only to poetry in difficulty. I have never been able to write decent poetry, and I admire people who can. I’ve watched DEF POETRY JAM a couple of times but the actual poetry leaves me cold.

I may be exposing my age when I say this but it feels like performance art rather than poetry to me. When I said this to a friend, he responded with a line I used on my parents when they complained about hip hop. “It’s not for you.” That’s probably true and I can accept that.

In another discussion, with this same friend, we talked about the difficulty of various forms of writing. This is how it came together for me.

1) Poetry – Hardest

2) Short Story

3) Novel

4) Essay

5) Screenplay

Poetry, as I explained above, is beyond my range of skills. I looked through old journals and diaries (going all the way back to junior high) and my skill level remained the same. It didn’t matter that I had grown up, traveled, read or had new experiences. I never upped my game in any way, shape or form and the thoughts were consistently simplistic and trite. “Bunnies and Rainbows” is how I classify poetry that should remain locked in the pages of personal journals and not be inflicted upon the world.

I started out in the short story form at California State University, Long Beach and later at San Francisco State University with Susan Harper. Harper was my professor in a Short Story class and I would love to know where she is now. Harper was hands down the best teacher I’ve ever had. I know she was a southerner, originally from Georgia, I believe, but I haven’t been able to track her down. I really found my sea legs in her class and I would love to have a conversation with her now.

Novels. Well, if you found this blog you already know about the novels. If not – run don’t walk – to find THE DYING GROUND or THE LAST KING.

Essays. I am spending a little more time on essays after reading the anthology BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS the past couple years. Much more creative than we were allowed to be back in school. I have a piece that I work on every couple months that involves a long lost photograph of my grandmother and THIS LADY. Maybe I’ll post it here once it’s complete.

Screenplays. I live in Los Angeles so you know I’ve tried the screenplay thing. Back in 1996 I wrote a romantic comedy about barbershops in Oakland. Well, the success of the “BARBERSHOP” franchise killed any chances of my version ever being brought to screen but the writing sample did get me an agent, meetings and a rewrite assignment on another screenplay. And, like every other person in town, I have a couple ideas I’m batting around but I am way too swamped with the new novel and the third Maceo book to even think about it.

Anyway, visit CELAINE. to read her blog and some of her poetry. Drop me a line if you have studied with Susan Harper and know where she currently teaches.

Until next time. . .