JM Williams

A home for all things fantasy and sci-fi.

Deadly Creation — My Writing Roots Vol. 3

Dec
04

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have been visiting my mother back in the suburban town where I grew up. Digging through the closets here, I have found a lot of my old writing material. Turns out, my mom saved everything from my time in school, some things she perhaps shouldn’t have.

(On a totally non-writing-related note, I am currently watching Bill Nye: the Science Guy on TV. It’s been way too long Bill!)

I was originally planning to post scans of the sequel to my first full-length story, which I wrote in the 6th grade.

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Like the last, this one was bound in a wonderful construction paper cover. But also like the last, it had a similar demon-hunting plot. It also doesn’t seem to be as well done as the original. Isn’t that the case with all sequels? It was quite a bit shorter than Dakkar of the Outworld, and the ending was horribly rushed. That being said, I would like to share the very last line of the story, because I think it’s representative of my writing then, and somewhat even now.

And to this day we remembered that anyone has the power to save the world.

Doesn’t that pretty much sum up classic heroic fantasy? Very Tolkien.

Instead of sharing that story in full, I would like to jump ahead in time to middle school, where my youth writing experience seemed to peak. I was not a prolific reader as a little kid. I started reading novels around the 6th grade, and my reading really took off in middle school. My general writing ability also improved. I even had the gall to think I could write a book myself! Though, I clearly didn’t have a good grasp of the scale of such a project.

That unfinished project, my first ambitious attempt to write a book, is what I want to share today. Though not anywhere near the size and depth of a real novel, this work came pretty close to a full-size, professional short story. If it had been completed, I am sure I would have broke four or five thousand words easy.

I titled my story “Deadly Creation.” I will first share the text with you, then offer some background on where it came from and what it meant for my evolution as a writer.

So here’s the unfinished military-horror story “Deadly Creation.”

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First thing, I clearly didn’t understand the difference between a fax and an old telegram–the cost of which was based on character count. Also, doesn’t “I’ll send you a fax.” date this story pretty well? I also had yet to learn how to properly paragraph, especially with the dialogue.

Something the Dakkar sequel showed was my growing fascination with the Amazon, which fed directly into this next story. Both stories also showed how little I actually knew about the sorts of animals that lived there.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I started reading a lot in middle school and the fictional influences are brutally clear to me here. I wrote this story shorty after reading Congo by Michael Crichton. Many elements of the story–such as the monster in the jungle and the motion detectors–as well as the general plot, were stolen from that book. Some of the other books I was reading at the time were Richard Marcinko’s Rogue Warrior series. Marcinko was the man who created Seal Team 6 and his books were filled with military and tactical expertise, and vulgarity, both of which I tried my best to emulate. Though, I kept my cursing hidden in acronyms like WTF and FUBAR. I don’t know if my mother ever figured those out!

This story shows a lot of growth in my writing, both in relation to story structuring, but also in the quality of the prose itself. My obsession with similes was beginning to die, though there are still a few cringe-worthy ones. I was starting to learn to be more abstract, less reliant on the word “like” to link my metaphors, and showed greater distance between the concepts I was comparing. A few of the lines that stand out to me as being pretty good are:

The night crept up like a lion on the hunt. It grew dark quickly and left the men scrambling for artificial lighting. The hum of the fluorescent lighting equipment was a relief to the silence of the jungle. 

and

It was an easy 100 degrees and an ocean floated in the air.

The other thing that shocked me a bit after all this time was that the two lead characters are both black. My neighborhood was not the most ethnically diverse place, nor was my school. I remember most of my friends, if not all at that time, being very white. Additionally, all the fictional sources of influence for this story had white protagonists. Hollywood is still dominated by white, male stars. But there was no consideration of any of that when I wrote the story. I had characters in my head and I wrote my vision as I saw it.

I think this was the last big story I wrote for a long time. Even though my family was very supportive of my writing, and their praise was at times overwhelming, I don’t think I ever had the delusion that writing would be a viable career plan after high school. Also, the work load from school increased significantly. So my focus drifted from the arts into the sciences, though English remained one of my favorites classes.

If you managed to make it this far, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed seeing my growth as a writer. I’ll have to write one more post, filling in the gaps between middle school and college. That’s when my desire to be a professional writer came back in full force.

But Saved by the Bell just came on, so I got to go!

~J.M.

 

 

 

New Flash Story out on Roane Publishing’s Flash Fiction Friday!

Dec
02

A supernatural horror story that I have been trying to place for quite a while now finally found a home. It was just released on Roane Publishing’s Flash Fiction Friday.

I will have to warn you though, it is a bit more depressing than my usual heroic stuff. I would probably classify it as supernatural-horror-tragedy.

If you feel up to it, drop on over and give it a read! You can read the story HERE.

~J.M.

Dakkar of the Outworld — My Writing Roots Vol. 2

Dec
01

As my previous post mentioned, I started writing heavily in the 6th grade. I wrote horror stories in my school journal, I played with the word processor on my home computer, I even assembled mini-books. Today I will be sharing one of those.

I must preface this by admitting to some of the blatant copyright violations in this story. I was just a kid; I had yet to learn the word “plagiarism.” I stole names in particular from everything around me. I was big into video games and Magic: the Gathering. The term “Outworld” in the title, comes straight from Mortal Kombat (On a unrelated note, a lot of people do not appreciate just how much lore was crafted for those old SNES games; the game manuals were dozes of pages long and usually this was half story. The first Mortal Kombat film is still one of the best video game adaptations in part because it followed the lore of the original game, and did it unabashedly.) The name of the main villain in my story series, Lim-Dul, was stolen from M:tG. In fact, Legions of Lim-Dul is even a card itself. I almost certainly stole the word “legions” from that very card. In addition to names, magic cards were a source of much of my complex vocabulary. Sometimes I didn’t use them right, but I tried.

So with that caveat (read: Don’t sue me Wizards of the Coast!), I would like to present the first full-length story I wrote in my youth, “Dakkar of the Outworld.” This story was nine pages hand-written! What 12-year-old writes that many pages of fiction? If I have to guess, it’s around 2000 words. That’s a full-size short story these days.

I apologize for the horrible handwriting. I did not want to type it out for a couple reasons. I wanted to show the original form, and I thought my textual OCD would prohibit me from typing it out with all the errors intact.

Without further ado, let me present “Dakkar of the Outworld.”

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Isn’t that something? Sure, it reads like a elementary school student wrote it, but that’s because one did! What’s amazing, reading it after all these years, is that there is a complete coherent plot inside this messy story. There are many standard fantasy conventions like the wandering warrior/mentor and the animal ally. I clearly had some idea what I was doing, even back then.

My fantasy roots can be seen in this story, though I leaned a lot more heavily towards horror (and gore in general, the appeal of which I no longer understand) back then. I imagine my youth was similar to Stephen King’s, but whereas he stuck with horror, and maybe even got darker over the years, I shifted to more uplifting and heroic styles of fantasy. As you also can see, I really liked similes when I was younger. Really, really liked similes.  I also had not come close to mastering the concept of paragraphing.

I hope you enjoyed this crazy kid’s story. I will be sharing the sequel “Lim-Dul’s Revenge” soon, as well as a few other things I wrote when I was that age. It’s been very interesting seeing all this stuff after such a long time.

~J.M.

Trouble in Paradise – What Pegman Saw

Oct
16
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Mauritius ©Google Maps

Both cars were out of fuel. Not that it mattered; Kori couldn’t drive a car across the ocean. This island paradise she had chosen for her first vacation after losing Derrik had become a prison. No, something worse than that–a slaughterhouse.

Hearing a shuffling sound down the road, Kori rolled herself over the road barrier. She heard it coming, step by mindless step, its broken leg dragging along the ground, its half-missing jaw moving up and down as if it was dreaming of a meal. But Kori was sure these things didn’t dream. And there were no meals left, except for people.

She drew her knife, leaning tight against the metal barrier, letting it approach. Then dispatched it with several hard blows to the back of the neck. It fell on its back and Kori took a close look of its face–she now recognized the formerly handsome hotel bellboy.

*Written as a response to the What Pegman Saw October 14th photo prompt. For some reason this picture had me thinking of the video game Dead Island. If you haven’t seen the trailer, you should. It’s one of the most emotionally intense bits of zombie film I can recall seeing, despite being a CGI movie that is now visually outdated. The video was widely praised when released. Unfortunately, the game didn’t live up to these grand expectations.