September 2001 Review

Web Page Progress

Following on from my computer failure and my lack of a Sharp JX-9200 printer driver, I have now managed to find my original disks. To my surprise, the process of installing them was reasonably straight forward, and my new computer, and it's Windows ME, doesn't seem to have any problems talking to the printer. So I'm back to as I was. Apart from the fact that most of my stories are written in LetterPerfect. Rather than installing LetterPerfect on my new computer, the disks for which I have also found, I have decided to upgrade all my stories to Word. I'm doing them a chapter at a time. It takes a while, but its probably worth it. It's much easier to convert to HTML, and most software recognises Word which can't be said these days for LetterPerfect. I've also decided to back up the new files on new disks, therefore maintaining the history and date records for copyright purposes.

On a more general note, the website seems to be ticking over quite nicely. Still no breakthrough into a thousand visits a day yet, but you still seem to visit on a casual basis. Well, so long as you keep visiting, stay awhile, and like what you read, then I can't ask for much more.

Finally, my condolences to all those who may have suffered or lost loved ones in the USA. Somewhere in the New Testament Jesus says, "If you belong to the world, then the world will embrace you and love you. But if you belong to Me, then you will be separated from the world, and the world will hate you. Remember this: They persecuted Me, so they will surely persecute you."

Maybe the USA is God's country after all....

Writing Progress

"The Friendly Ambassador" is now a couple of chapters along, and my mind is busy working on all the possible permutations of the story. Usually at this stage I have a vague idea of a number of "events" that I wish to describe. The story is then determined by how I get to these "events" and how they all fit together. Sometimes an idea will come along that completely changes the direction of the story. These can be as a result of a sudden thought, something I see in life, or even something in a film or on TV. In fact, in the early stages these sorts of ideas often crop up on a regular basis, even giving me ideas for other stories. I wander about in a daze, seeing ideas come and go. I think about the story on my way to and from work, on the train, in bed, when I'm half asleep. It sometimes takes quite awhile before the final idea surfaces, or, conversely, I know it before I even start. This is the common thread, the thing that forms the back-bone of the story in my mind and takes it on it's eventful journey.

This common thread can be a major event, the reactions of a group of characters, a message that I want to put across, or just the whole vision of a world or future. The idea may differ slightly from story to story, but in my case it always seems to be based on characters and how they react to the situations and events that I confront them with. Whether the story is Science-Fiction or contemporary, I like to see what they do, and how they respond. And doing it right is what makes the experience of writing enjoyable. I make up the story, and yet I watch it develop with the same delight as someone who reads it for the very first time.

My characters are very talkative, and my stories often read like a screenplay. Not that I don't like being descriptive. There are always events that I like to describe, like battles or new worlds. But I get much more fun writing about what people are saying and what they're feeling. A lot of my characters are confused, rather like in the real world. They think they know what's going on and where their future lies, but they aren't always that sure. And, of course, I make a point of proving their doubts to be correct. I like to put them in situations which contradict their normal expectations, then I sit back and see how they react. Even the so called "baddies" are far from being the out and out villains they could be -although I do like to have the odd really evil person in there for everyone to boo and hiss!

I guess this all comes from the fact that I usually like the characters I write about, I like being with them and sharing their experiences. I'm happy when they're happy, and sad when they're sad. But it's only natural that it should be like this, because if I don't like the characters I write about, how can I expect you to like reading about them?

September's Short Story

A slightly different format for the Short Story this month. Apart from writing stories in my spare time, and of course my main job which shall remain unknown due to its boring nature, I am also a volunteer editor for the Open Directory Project, or dmoz to those who use it regularly. The ODP is rapidly becoming one of the largest search engines on the web, and its listings are often used by most of the other search engines as well. The ODP is more of a directory than a search engine, hence its name, and its split into different categories. The categories I edit deal with sites that either feature stories written specifically for the web and mix the traditional genres of Romance, Science-Fiction, etc, "Arts, Online Writing, Fiction, Genres, Mixed Genre," or those that feature already published stories or non-fiction made available on the web, "Arts, Literature, Online Reading." When editing in the "Mixed Genre" category, I am frequently called upon to vet websites that feature stories written by unpublished writers. Some of them are sort of okay, some of them are good, and some of them deserve better attention from the established commercial publishers. Unfortunately, like myself, most of these writers are unpublished and unsung heroes and heroines, busily typing away in the shadows. I'd like to cast a little light on some of them.

This month I would like you to have a look at:-

Methuselah Sleeps


Nadine C Anderson

This is a very simple but excellent Science-Fiction story. Read it and enjoy it. If you want to read more of her stories, her website can be found at Write Archives, and her homepage at Write. Or click on the links at the bottom of the page of "Methuselah Sleeps".

What do you think of it so far? Email me!

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