Tag Archives: Short stories

The writer that wrote stories in bookstore windows

Could you write a story on demand?  In a store window?  With a first draft that is error free?

Harlan Ellison writing in a bookstore window.  Source

Apparently that is what award winning sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison did.  And he didn’t do it once.  He did it several times over the years.

I first heard about this feat from Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, and then I decided to do some research on it, and I found this post on Mental Floss.

Ellison would sit with a typewriter.  A TYPEWRITER—not a laptop.  You see you little whippersnappers you couldn’t always go back and remove a letter or a word.

Ellison says that he did this because:

“I do it because I think particularly in this country people are so distanced from literature, the way it’s taught in schools, that they think that people who write are magicians on a mountaintop somewhere,” he told NBC after one such performance in 1981. “And I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s so much illiteracy in this country. So by doing it in public, I show people it’s a job … like being a plumber or an electrician.”

After doing this several times people began to question if he already had the stories in his head.  So, he started taking prompts from people.  One came from none other than Christ Carter, the creator of the X-Files.  His prompt: There was a 102 year old corpse.  Harlin would hand the pages as they finished and a clerk would post them in the window.  The pages were immaculate, double spaced, and error free.

I would love to be at this level.  

But as I think about this, I contemplate how many myths of writing Ellison takes down here.

Outlining–He doesn’t outline here.  He writes.  He stops to read and research, but there is no outline here to his process.

No rewriting—Have you ever heard of such a thing!  No rewrites!  Try telling that to your English teacher.

Writing taking a longtime—These are short stories, but he didn’t slave over these stories for years on end.

Ellison shows that writing doesn’t have to be a big esoteric exercise.

Solid creative writing is work—just like a plumber.

(This post originally appeared on my Steemit blog.)

A new universe and the short story

I am an idiot.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.  But of course it took Hugh Howey to bring it out.

Let me back up.  Sometime last week Hugh put a short story of about 1000 words on KDP.  He admitted he didn’t care if it didn’t sell any copies at all.  He writes that he thought of the story in a cafe, wrote the story, and then did a few editing passes.  He also made the cover with the Amazon cover maker.

Brilliant.  Freakin’ Brilliant.

I am a small pathetic person.  So I was jealous.

But the world opened up when I thought this.

I am a busy person.  I don’t publish yet fast as I would like.  At least not full blown books.  But I can definately publish 3-5,000 word stories on a 2 week to monthly basis.

I have my book Dolbin School for the Extraordinary where I can write stories about the back stories of the dozens of characters in the book.

I could also write short stories and then collect them into one book as a collection.  Many writers do this.

This opens a new universe.  I have written before about thinking about writing in universes.

I like this idea.  I feel like I can write a short story without needing to put cash into the creation of the story.  Use friends to proof the read and learn to do my own cover.  This gives me an excuse to learn Illustrator.

Amazon even has short story categories.  I am ashamed for not putting this together sooner.

Here is Hugh Howey’s short story that inspired me.

So I decided to publish my own. This is a story I have been sitting on for awhile. It’s 5000 words. I have shortened it to 1,900 and am currently in the process of finding an illustrator to turn it into a picture book. 5,000 words is too long to be a read aloud picture book, so I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Hugh inspired me to put it up. I am learning Adobe Illustrator and I stink. So what. I’ll get better.

So here is my short story.

Aliens. Baseball. 99 cents.

Aliens. Baseball. 99 cents.