Truncated Tales

Humorous Stories for the Time Challenged

Tag: writing

One Word or Another

“Excuse me, what’s another word for thesaurus?” she asked the middle-aged man sitting at the next table.

He gave a short laugh, smiled, and shrugged. “That’s a good question. You’re kidding, right?”

“Why would I kid, I hardly know you,” she shot back. “I’m taking a writing class, and my professor wants us to avoid first-choice words in order to expand our “descriptive horizon,” as she air quotes.

“Well, it sounds like a Steven Wright routine to me,” he laughed.

“Who’s Steven Wright?” knowing the answer was probably known by anyone twice her age.

“He’s a comedian who played a lot of word games in his routine, like what’s another word for thesaurus. But he was doing it for laughs, and obviously you’re not. I’m getting coffee, would you like another of whatever you’re having?”

“I’ll take a tall chai latte.”

“Okay, one tea with milk coming up.”

As he approached the counter, he thought of the beauty and simplicity of youth. That inner drive to create and explore — to expand boundaries. Nothing fit like it should, and it didn’t have to. There was order in disorder; a freedom to let go. Where had it all gone. Why did he feel the need to give structure where there was none. In acquiring a lifetime of things, oh how it chained him from letting go. Just letting go. Or, perhaps, he was just revisiting youth through a prism of primary colors, forgetting the angst. Not remembering those sleepless nights wondering where life’s decisions would lead. Worried it was too late at 24 for change.

“Here’s your tall chai latte. Sorry I couldn’t help you with thesaurus.”

“Thanks, and I’ll be sure to look up that Wright guy on YouTube.”

“You do that. And good luck with your writing course,” he said as he toasted with his coffee. “Maybe your professor is just messing with your head.” Messing with your head, he thought. He hadn’t used that expression in years, but here and now it seemed to fit.

“Perhaps she is. I’m Kayla,” she said as she extended her hand.

“I’m Jim.”

He wanted to say good luck with life, or don’t let others discourage you from pursuing what you feel in your gut. He wanted to give her life lessons in closing. Something that would click and get her through those dark moments to come. And they always do. Something to nurture her spirit, that enthusiasm, to see whatever goal she may have till the end. To not get discouraged by failure; to keep swimming parallel to the shore and she’d be alright. Something. In his heart, he knew dreams don’t die. They may fade slowly, become quiet till they well up at 3 a.m. filling you with regret. But they don’t die. He said nothing.

10 Easy Steps to Writing a Book

How often has a friend come up to you and said, “Wow! What a great story. You should write a book.” Or maybe, as your probing mind throws question after question at that same friend about his night out that his wife knew nothing about because she thought he was working late to make up for the day he took off to get a colonoscopy, which he actually didn’t get because he spent the afternoon canoodling with a young woman he met on Tinder, he would turn and ask, “What’re you writing a book?” You see, you are an author, and everyone knows it but you. So, isn’t it about time to sit yourself down — or stand if you think it will add a few years to your life since sitting is the new cholesterol, although standing for long periods in one spot can produce pooling of blood around the ankles, forcing you to wear support hose years before you should — and start banging away at those keys in search of your inner Hemmingway? Well, it’s easier than you think. Simply follow these 10 simple steps and you, too, can be a published author giving your book away for $.99 on Amazon, after promoting it at $0 for your kid’s entire K to 5 schooling, and having your cousin’s neighbor — whose daughter is studying graphic arts — edit your book for free since he was assistant editor of his high school newspaper in junior year, as long as you compensate his daughter for her cover design to the tune of $975 in cash and a Chipolte gift card. So, here goes:

  1. Come up with a big idea. Something like the “for Dummies” theme, or maybe O’Reilly’s “Killing” saga, or Michener’s “Hawaii,” but don’t write about Hawaii because it’ll cost you a fortune to research, and he pretty much hit that book out of the park. The idea is, you don’t want to be a one-hit wonder like that Jay McInerney fellow, so think series. Think of something.
  2. Okay, you have a format. Now, come up with a subject matter and story that will grab readers from the very first sentence, keeping them glued to your book till the very last word. That should be easy.
  3. Now you have a theme, you pretty much have a storyline, and somewhere along the way, you’ll develop your own style. The hard part is over.
  4. Make tea.
  5. I would say to develop an outline so there’s coherent flow and development of characters, but that would take a lot of time. And god knows, you probably already have a plot line picked out for your second book. If it’s incoherent and rambling with absolutely no empathy for your main characters, well, that’s just your style. Even Hemmingway was misunderstood for his simplcity, till he shot himself in the head. Only then was he truly appreciated, but there’s no reason to take it that far — not at this point anyway. Not yet.
  6. Get a cookie, a cracker — something. It would have been better if you thought about that when you made your tea, but true artists such as yourself gets so wrapped up in their work, they often forget to eat.
  7. Eat lunch.
  8. Okay, so you have a beginning, a middle, and now you have to come up with an ending. Oh, did I mention plot? The ending should have something to do with the plot, unless you’d like to pull an O’Henry — or Cheever for that matter — and shock the crap out of them. Great! You’re book’s finished.
  9. Now it’s time for you to promote it. I say you because I’m assuming your novel was not picked up by a major publishing house. My best advice — start a blog. While it would be fun blogging about the overhead lighting at Costco versus Home Depot, you should really stick to your book. Give them bits and drabs, and make them want to plunk down almost a buck (half-a-day’s pay in some countries) for your hard work. What you want are eyeballs or clicks or something. You would also like them to comment on your work and follow you. Not literally, of course. Well, I guess it could be “literally” since it is a work of “literature.” You see, that’s a pun and injects a bit of humor into your tale, but I should have mentioned that sooner. “And how can I promote my blog?” you ask. Easy. Go on everyone else’s and leave comments on how much you liked their story, their pictures, their writing style, etc.. And don’t forget to follow them. (Again, I don’t mean home.) Just say nice things, and remember to compliment their “About” page. In other words, just make shit up.
  10. Sit back and watch the glowing reviews with one eye, and your multiplying sales with the other. It’s now time to quit your day job.