Tag Archives: wine

Snubbed Stories: “Attachment”

When a story gets rejected more than a dozen times and I deem it a lost cause, I could let it collect cyberdust on my hard drive.

OR

I could muster enough courage to share it openly with you fine people. If I choose the latter, we all get a chance to tear a story apart together, to learn together as a community and grow as storytellers.

See, it’s easy to give abstract advice on writing—every blog on writing or publishing does that all of the time. Heck, I do that. Why? Because it’s easy to dish out advice. What’s hard is giving practical, real-life examples like “Watch this replay where I fail miserably. See that? Epic fail. Don’t do that.” Real-life examples require vulnerability.

Then again, there’s an entire website devoted to failing, a subculture founded on #fail and #winning. It all started with skater culture, skaters who love watching old clips of their buddies racking themselves during an insane attempt to grind down some fifty-step rail. Thus Johnny Knoxville. When we learn from, laugh over, and accept failure it leads to success… or at least good slapstick. That’s why we writers need the reformation of rejection slips. So yeah, I’ll have to find some chutzpa to share the crap I keep in the “Boneyard” folder on my wife’s MacBook. But you know what?

It’ll be worth it.

Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. I choose to bury this snubbed story, to plant it in hopes that we learn something at its funeral. To heck with the word funeral, let’s call this a wake.

Ask yourself: Why did this story get rejected? What’s wrong with this picture? And then join me in the comments for a discussion on this story and storytelling.

I’m sharing the following literary short story, warts and all. It’s entitled “Attachment” and was rejected 20 times:

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ATTACHMENT

April 20th, 1949

Ella,

Four days since I saw you. Feels just about like forty.  Fort Bellvorde’s nice compared to Fort Scott’s patch of grass.  More ways to spend rec time than Scott.  Continue reading

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Storyssentials: Protagonist

Ever watch a fat soprano shatter a wine glass with her voice?

It’s called resonant frequency – the pitch at which something vibrates. Everything has it – the table I’m typing on, the car keys hanging from my carribeaner and the engine block on my car that, judging by the smell of burning rubber, may or may not need a check up.

Friggin’ serpentine belts…

Vocal chords vibrate a column of air to its resonant frequency, allowing the sound to fill your mouth with song and then enter the world by leaving your sound hole. I wonder if musical mothers ever use that phrase in vain? “Shut your sound hole!” If the frequency exiting your sound hole matches the exact resonant frequency of, say, a glass? BUM-CHINSH go shards and wine all over your table.

The glass says “that sounds like me” and explodes in an emotional encounter. Protagonists are the songs we writers sing, the notes that resonate deep in the caverns of our readership’s soul. Each of us is a glass begging to find something that “sounds like me.”

Protagonists come good or bad, evil or righteous, living right or dead wrong. They can be rich or poor, powerful or weak, accepted or rejected. Regardless of looks, they must resonate. They must sound like us often enough that when their story finds the breaking point at climax, we too shatter. Analysts dub that phenomenon “catharsis” – our human desire to discharge emotion in one satisfying purge.

I offer four solid words to describe protagonists: volition, ambition, predisposition, qualification, and fortune. Continue reading

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