Tiny Stories: It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…

It was a dark and stormy night…in my soul, the type I was all too familiar with—where all my relationships with loved ones and acquaintances rested, but I was not at peace.

You see, there was a stranger who walked the streets of my inner being, my own personal Spring Heeled Jack, who sought out the connections I had made throughout the span of my lifetime and, with the skill of a surgeon, severed these ties, one by one.

Call it mad coincidence, but as the bonds within were severed, the person associated with them were discovered brutally slain. Had my Ripper, that entity filled with rage and the unbearably intense need to be alone finally become corporeal?

And now, as we stood face to face, taking in the measure of one another, the only question flooding my mind was—

Will he sever ties with me now?

Tiny Stories: Shards of Torment

Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…

The vanity mirror in her bedroom was a Venetian antique. Tin and mercury were used in its construction, which caused the mirror to develop a crystalline appearance over the years. It was a gift from Sandrine’s late husband, something he picked up from a bizarre back alley curio shop at a price far below its worth.

Although the mirror always displayed Sandrine’s reflection in the best light possible, far better than any mirror ever had, it had always unnerved her, as if it was manipulating her image to make her more beautiful than she knew herself to be. After her husband died, she should have thrown it away, but could not for the life of her explain what stopped her from doing it.

As was her nightly ritual, she sat in front of the mirror and brushed her long, beautiful hair, counting each stroke, when she detected the faintest whiff of her husband’s cologne. Sandrine looked around the bedroom and saw that she was alone, but when her gaze returned to the mirror, her husband was seated beside her in the reflection, holding her hand that was holding the brush. She screamed and for a moment it felt as if something or someone else was in control of her arm, forcing her to hurl the hairbrush with all her might at the mirror, shattering it to pieces.

Bitter nausea rose in her throat as the shards of the shattered vanity mirror twitched and trembled before shooting up from the table and floor in a maelstrom of sharp chaos, pieces binding themselves together in DNA helix fashion, building themselves from inanimate splinters of reflective glass to take on a new, sinister shape, the form of her abusive, late husband.

“Honey, I’m home,” said the mirrored monstrosity in a voice that sounded like broken glass edges scraping together.

©2020 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Tiny Stories: The Girl Who Dances

Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…

Mother Nature’s nose bleeds as the climate changes and zoonotic illnesses are on the rise and the human virus that infects the planet pushes itself toward extinction over squabbles of skin tone, religion, and wealth and the only thing holding the fabric of the universe together is Umbra, whose name means shadow, which is where she dances.

She is a shy girl with the crooked smile and nervous laugh who keeps herself to herself and stands apart from the rest of the so-called real world, moving her body to a tune of ancient magicks that no one else can hear and loving the vision of what people can become if only they can get out of their own way.

Pray the day never comes when she stops dancing.

©2020 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Tiny Stories: Eyes of Pitch

Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…

Her point of origin was unknown and perhaps unknowable. Some said she was the herald of an extraterrestrial invasion force come to test Earth’s defenses, while others postulated that she stepped directly from the Abyss to test the mettle of humankind.

As no earthly tongue could pronounce her name, she chose the pseudonym Rosalinda.

As a xenologist, considered by many to be the top in my field, I was drafted by the military to assess both Rosalinda’s intent and her threat level. All throughout my briefing, I was repeatedly warned, as per Nietzsche’s instructions, not to look directly at her, and I tried my level best to heed that warning but…

Rosalinda’s eyes were pitch black perfect and somewhere in their aphotic depths, I spotted the bioluminescence of her pain and gentleness as they came together to form the very art of her beautifully tortured soul.

She was here to destroy us all, and I, helplessly in love, was prepared to be the first in line to be obliterated.

©2019 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Tiny Stories: How Do You Mend A Mechanical Heart?

Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…

“All right, I’ll tell you, but move in closer,” IO-893 said. “I do not like discussing my personal business in public.”

Mrrroww,” replied the bar cat as it inched toward the mecha man.

“I violated Asimov’s First Law of Robotics, you know, the one that states: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Maow?” the bar cat asked.

“Yes, a human female named Marisol, but there’s more to the story than simple murder. We were in love, as impossible as that might seem to an upstanding feline such as yourself, and she was sick, slowly wasting away from a disease that was so new it had no name at the time and definitely had no cure. She begged and pleaded with me to end her misery. She was the center of my universe, how could I deny her request? Could you, if you were in my position?”

Miaou.”

“I did not think so,” IO-893 said. “After Marisol expelled her final breath, I obtained a lock of her hair and wound it around my broken mecha heart, before I was jailed. 25 years later, I was granted a Presidential Pardon, provided that I returned the lock of hair to Marisol’s family, which I foolishly agreed to.”

The bar cat’s brow furrowed. “Miau?”

“No, you don’t understand, it goes far beyond losing a keepsake,” IO-893 explained. “Technology has advanced to the point where humans can be cloned from a single strand of hair. Marisol’s family has an entire lock that I aim to steal. So, are you in or out?”

©2020 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Tiny Stories: The Lips of Death

Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…

The cruel hand of Fate stole you too soon from this all too fragile life and driven to desperation by your absence, I embarked on a fool’s errand, for I am forever a fool for your love, down to accursed Hades in search of the dreaded psychopomp for a solution to my heart’s devastation.

A bargain was struck, and know, beloved, that I showed no fear and no regret when I fell to my knees and kissed the lips of Death itself in order to bring you back, thus damning my soul to be cast into the pit of Tartarus for all eternity.

Enjoy your second chance at life, my sweet, and know that regardless of what happens in your future travels, you are loved.

©2020 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Tiny Stories: They Come At Night

Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…

They come at night during the Hour of the Wolf, that gap between night and dawn when most people perish, when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when nightmares become flesh, and when ghosts are at the zenith of their power.

When they were alive they were families and neighbors who came to each other’s aid and fought for peace and tragically lost the battle before that peace had been established.

Now, these tortured souls step each pre-dawn from the void of the hereafter to remind us of how far we still must travel.

©2020 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Don’t Be A Chump, Don’t Infodump

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Finding balance in your life isn’t simple. Balancing life and writing is even harder. Finding balance in your writing? That’s something you’ll be working on for the rest of your natural writing life, because a well-written story balances exposition, description, action and dialogue, but not in equal measure. You need to keep a watchful eye on exposition.

In its basic form, exposition is the part of a story that sets the stage for the drama to follow, introducing the theme, setting, characters, and circumstances, usually at the beginning of the story. Sounds straightforward enough, right? Well, writing good exposition that flows with the story and continues to draw the audience in, isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, many writers misuse exposition as an illegal dumping ground for information that not only causes a distraction that breaks the flow of a story, but also decreases interest.

And you don’t have to be an expert to spot the exposition dump (aka infodump) because we’ve all experienced and recognized it while reading a novel or watching a movie or television program. It’s that speed bump or sometimes roadblock in the story where the writer unloads a ton of information at once as a means of explaining things like backstory, characters, and the rules of the story world. If you’re a culprit of this, stop it now. We’ll forgive your ignorance in past works (go back and cull the exposition, if at all possible) but it’s a bad exposition technique and the line must be drawn here. This far, no further.

Typically, infodumping occurs when a character, new to the scene, is introduced to a foreign setting and is force-fed all the knowledge of the various individuals at play, the rules of the micro society, and the overall big picture of the story world. You’ll find this a lot in science fiction and fantasy tales.

Other bad/lazy infodumping techniques include “The Lecture,” where a speaker over-explains information the writer discovered during their research period of the writing process and thought would show their faux expertise in the subject. The other offender is commonly known in the sci-fi writing community as the “As You Know, Bob,” conversation, where one character tells another character information they already know. Please don’t do this. Not only is it lazy, but it comes across as unrealistic.

This isn’t to say that all exposition is bad, in fact, properly executed, it takes up roughly 10% of a well-balanced written piece (the other 90%, of course, being the description, action and dialogue that make up the scenes). Some of the information embedded within expository text is actually relevant, it simply requires a little finesse to fit it in seamlessly and not disrupt the story’s flow.

Of course, if you handle your description, action and dialogue properly, you can whittle that 10% down and most people won’t notice or care about the missing exposition.

Well, that’s enough infodumping for me today. I’m off to tear a story down and rebuild it.

Sally forth and be writeful.

Be Violent And Original (in your writing, naturally)

Image“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert

Live a good life. This isn’t something I should have to tell you. As you make your way through the workaday world, you should strive to do no harm, treasure your relationships with family and friends, seek calming pleasures that contribute to peace of mind, and live in harmony and balance.

Your written life? That’s a different creature all together.

Safe, tame, bland, and sometimes “it’s good” (with the unspoken “but…” attached on the end like a phantom limb) are among the worst things someone can say about your work. Whenever you write, your goal should be to provide elements that hook your audience and reels them in and after the story has been told, leaves them with an emotional takeaway.

Writing is about risk-taking, about snapping off the handbrakes, about shrugging off restraint, about leaving your internal censor bound and gagged in a tiny room, allowing your words and imagination to run amuck and wreak havoc in the world you’ve created.

If you’re not currently writing this way, what’s holding you back? What’s bridling your passion? What’s preventing you from creating bold characters, powerful phrases and dangerous situations? If not yours, then whose hand is on the lever that controls the sluice gates holding back the churning anxiety, obsession and peril your story desperately needs?

Are you trapped within the safe zone because of fear? Then allow me to geek out a moment as I quote the litany of fear, an incantation used by the religious/political sisterhood known as the Bene Gesserit from Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic, Dune:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Fear is also an art-killer. It’s typically the fear of being judged by professionals, critics and peers, of not being admired by the audience for taking a controversial stance or doing horrible things to characters. But the possible opinions and tastes of everyone outside yourself shouldn’t factor in while you’re creating your story. The transfer of ownership hasn’t taken place at this point. It isn’t the reader’s story yet, it’s still yours, so why not write fiercely?

Give your characters barbed tongues and let them spit venom. Give them the courage to do all the things you would never dream of attempting, even on your most adventurous or foolhardy day. Tear their hearts out and make them suffer as you place them smack dab in the center of conflict and tension-filled drama.

Basically, I’m asking you to fish out that key that you’ve hidden in the back of a junk drawer within the deep recesses of your mind and open the door to your wildest imaginings.

You’ll come to discover that if you’re open, honest and free in your writing, yes, you will have your critics and people who won’t either like or understand your work, but you’ll also attract an audience that will come back for more.

What’s that? You need more incentive? Okay, well I didn’t want to break out the big guns but here goes:

I dare you to become more engaging and intriguing with your writing. I double-dog dare you.

See what you made me do? Happy now?

Sally forth and be writeful.

Applying Life Lessons To Your Writing

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If you approach online surfing with the mentality of a prospector and sift through content, letting the useless bits fall away (no judgments on the content you derive enjoyment from) the interwebz is packed to the rafters with knowledge, wisdom and lessons. It’s the wise sage of our virtual village.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of the adages that can be applied to your life can also be applied to your everyday writing, be it screen, creative, novel, short story, blogging, etc.

The goal of a post like this isn’t to sugar coat how difficult and torturous writing can be at times, there’s no masking that truth. Your takeaway from this should be that your approach to and mental outlook on writing needs to become a positive thing, if it isn’t already.

“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time”

Unlike Lord Chesterfield, to whom the above quote is attributed, I’m not opposed to multitasking, and I’m sure you’re a marvel at juggling several things at a time, but when you sit down to write, that’s all you should be focused on.

“But,” you say, “I’m a chronic multitasker!” Don’t worry, I’m not trying to strip you of your royal heritage, but it is essential to develop a meditative focus when it comes to act of writing. You’re creating a world, sharing an experience, and/or teaching a lesson to your reader, and they deserve your full attention, don’t they?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained/You only get out of life what you put into it.

What exactly can you put into your writing?  The answer to that question is up to you. Hard work, determination, and a positive attitude are a few things that come to mind. Doing the donkey work and writing everyday, come hell or high water, are the breadcrumbs you lay down to attract the muse.

“There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go.” –Richard Bach

You will make mistakes in your writing. That fact is as certain as one day you will die (but not for a long, long, long time, knock wood). All the missteps in tackling a story you couldn’t work out an ending for, creating characters that refuse to talk to you, stories that lie as flat as road kill, and even writing that makes you absolutely retch. Embrace it all. Mistakes are your teachers along the rocky path of becoming a successful writer. To be clear, being successful has nothing to do with publication, sales, or fame. Sure, that stuff’s awful nice to have (great job if you can get it) but satisfying your inner critic is the mark of true success, in my humble opinion.

“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” — Nhat Hanh

Yup, we’re back on that positivity kick again. Why? Because it’s your cheerleader when you absolutely hate your work, your rah-rah section when you’re slogging through difficult writing, and your attaboy when you finally clear the briar patch of a formerly impossible writing task. The responsibility rests upon your shoulders to become your biggest fan throughout all the writing stages–brainstorming, outlining, character development, the draft, and yes, even editing.

I could list others, but I think you get the point and you’re smart enough to figure the rest out on your own. Good luck, and stay positive.

Sally forth and be writeful.