Friday 4 February 2011

Friday Flash - Maneater

The train pulls into the station and the doors slide open with a hiss. Just like they do every day, the bankers and businessmen crowd around the door, so the boarding passengers have to jostle for space between them. I don't understand why people block the doors, but I've lived in this city for forty seven years now and I still don't understand their ways.

The tall woman gets on last. She's got legs up to her armpits, and the kind of bouncy hair that models swish about in TV adverts. An Amazon clad in businesswear. She's not interested in the women on the train so she doesn't notice me looking at her. Hmph, as I figured. Her skirt suit wants to be Chanel but is probably either eBay or a bad rip-off, while those skyscraper heels are pure bargain bin dressed up as Laboutin. I try to catch her scent but I'm overpowered by Gaultier.

Some of the bankers check this woman out. She feigns nonchalance but I watch her give them the once over when they look away. I don't think she's too impressed with what she sees. She's boxed in by short balding men wearing business suits a size too small, their puffy fingers suffocated by cheap wedding bands. They're like oversized sacks of blood carrying briefcases. I get a mental image of a leech holding an iPhone and resist the urge to giggle.

The woman looks up at the overhead advertisements. It looks like she's scanning the row, but her eyes aren't reading the ads. No, she's checking out the left hands of the businessmen holding the rail. She homes in on the one guy not wearing a wedding ring. I'm not surprised - he's cute. Spiky brown hair flecked with grey, strong jaw, cheekbones you could ski down - I'm sure that's an Alexander McQueen suit. I can't see what he's reading but I'd swear it's a comic book. I'm convinced he's reading Transmetropolitan.

She smiles. The men see a face worthy of L'Oreal, but I see a cat that's spotted a mouse. A predator. I watch her attempts to squeeze through the crowd of married men to the singleton, but the bankers won't let her past. They want her where they can see her. The woman adjusts the fake Chanel, flashing the rings on her finger. Cubic zirconia. Classy. Cheap bait for expensive fish.

The train pulls into the next station. The doors open and Mr Cute looks up from his comic book. I was right, he does have puppy dog eyes. He slides the comic into his laptop bag and joins the crowd clamouring to get off. I can't help thinking their task would be made easier if the people on the platform let them off the train before they try and get on, but as I said, I still don't understand the mindset of these humans.

Ms Fake Laboutin looks alarmed, and shoves through the sweaty bankers toward the nearest doors. She steps down onto the platform just in time. As the train lurches out of the station, I catch sight of her through the window. She's stalking her prey toward the exit.

I turn my attention back to the bankers. The one beside me catches my eye and smiles in that leering fashion older men think is attractive. His jowls wobble and his watery eyes glisten among folds of red flesh. I can only imagine what he's thinking as he stares at what he thinks is a 23-year-old girl. I smile back all the same. I'm sure he'll taste delicious.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Writing Habits

I was casting around for ideas of things people would like to see on this blog, and there seems to be interest in writing processes. When I came across this post by Ali Luke of Aliventures on the 7 Habits of Serious Writers, I couldn't help but write a post about my own habits.


I've been writing since I can remember, and I've been writing regularly since I did a creative writing course when I was sixteen. However, it's only really been over the past couple of years that I've written with any serious intent. As a result, I actually write on a daily basis. I'm either working on flashes, stories I intend to submit, or something longer - at the moment, it's a novella. Some days, I might not actually add to the word count of the project, but I'll be brainstorming ideas around it, or working on plot problems. I'm also inherently competitive, so I find the vaguely obsessive-compulsive need to have a full scorecard on impels me to write daily, too.

Working with personal flaws

I have the attention span of a toddler so it's all too easy for me to get distracted. Maybe I'll log into Twitter "just to see what's going on" and I'll end up getting involved in a lengthy and enjoyable conversation. Some of the games on Facebook are dangerously addictive. Having said that, if I get an idea for a story and I decide to just "jot bits down", I often find I get so wrapped up in jotting things down as they come to me that I end up writing something anyway. In a peculiar kind of way, I distract myself from the idea of writing with the need to preserve the story as it comes to me.

Books galore

I make a point of reading both fiction and non-fiction. There's always a book in my bag - at the moment, it's a book about the American West, but I'm also reading a book about quantum mechanics, as well as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I tend to read a lot of historical NF (which informs my historical fiction) but I like to read the works of other writers too. Sometimes I'm trying to get a feel for a genre, sometimes I'm curious how other writers structure their novels, and sometimes I just want to be entertained. Every now and then, I also read books on the craft of writing - I personally enjoy James Scott Bell's books - although I tend to prefer blogs about writing as it feels like less of a slog to get through them.

Work can always be better

I never post the first draft of anything. Whatever you see on here will have always been redrafted at least twice before I paste it into Blogspot, and sometimes it'll be tweaked even before I hit 'Publish Post'. My first drafts are often terrible - my novella is an absolute mess, but since I know what I need to do with it, I'm still quite proud of it. However, I know that redrafting is almost as important to the process as the initial writing, so I might leave a piece for a few days, or a couple of weeks, before I go back and cast fresh eyes over it.

Getting my work out there

I write for three reasons. First and foremost - it never occurred to me not to do so. I've written from the time I was able to form letters with crayons - I asked my mother, and she can't remember a time when I wasn't scribbling down a story, or bashing one out on her old typewriter. Writing is a lot like eating or walking - it's just something I do. Secondly, I enjoy telling stories. It's fun. Thirdly, I want to entertain. Not a particularly lofty goal, but I'm a big believer in escapism, so if I can provide someone with the means to escape the drudgery of their everyday life, then I consider my job done. As a result, I provide my weekly Friday flashes, and I have two e-books available. I submit my work to anthologies, and I'm working on novels. It's all about getting the work out there.

Thinking about it

Even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about my work in progress, or the next flash. I've started outlining my flashes so I can take a handful of sentences scrawled in my notebook and flesh them out into the stories I post every week. I'm constantly going over the plot points or characters in my novella, asking myself what a character's motivation might be, or what might cause them to behave in a particular way. If it doesn't sit right with me, I change it - because chances are, if something doesn't ring true with me, it won't ring true with a reader. It is the writer's job to communicate the story properly, and it's a job I intend to do well.

These are my habits. What are yours?

Monday 31 January 2011

Photo Prompt 18

Eighteenth prompt, ready and waiting.

If you want to use the prompt, all I ask is that you include a link to this entry and a credit to me for the photograph, and that you post a link to your story in the comments box below so I can see what you've come up with! If you don't comment on this entry, then I can't comment on your story.

The eighteenth prompt is Crypt.


All photo prompts are my own photography - you can find more of it on Flickr.