Inkshares Preview #1 – The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein

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What can I say about Tal M. Klein‘s novel that hasn’t already been said?

There’s an awful lot of buzz about The Punch Escrow these days, what with a film adaptation forthcoming. Well, let’s shoot down one tagline that’s going around – this isn’t “The next Ready Player One” or whatever that quote was. There are 80’s references, aye, but it isn’t a jam-packed mess of 80’s nostalgia with a bit of a plot underneath.

No, what you get with The Punch Escrow is a funny and thoughtful exploration of one little tiny problem with teleportation. Geeks know the question – is the Captain Kirk that appears with a team of expendable redshirts on the planet surface the same one who stepped on the transporter pad? Does Kirk die every time Scotty beams him up? The Punch Escrow answers that question With Science! through the misadventures of a sarcastic hero, Joel Byram.

With a quick and fun narrative, it’s easy to get into the book and see why there’s been so much buzz. And when I say With Science! I mean it – the narrative is clearly well-researched. There’s a lot of attention to detail, but the narrative still manages to move quickly.

The Inkshares page where it all started is here, and of course you can grab it at Amazon and everywhere else!


 

Help me kickstart my writing career and get a great sci-fi novel!

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Far Flung, my sci-fi epic that’s in the Top 75 of the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition, is in funding now. Everyone who has critiqued and proofread it has thoroughly enjoyed it.

I need your support to make sure I come out in the Top 3 on Inkshares. Your support means a lot to me, my family, and my writing career.

Is there a book or project you want promoted? When you pre-order, let me know what I can review on my blog and share with my Twitter feed!

Building the End of the Story – my results

You can see more of these exercises here.

For some very good reasons, these posts will be shorter and not on schedule!


In the last post, I urged you to write an ending that diverges from the obvious…

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The straight, expected path represents your story without any twists, nothing unexpected. The right ending, however, takes the reader off that path to a better, more meaningful ending. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it does have to require the reader to pay attention every step of the way.
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Building a Short Story Part 3 – The End?

You can see more of these exercises here.

For some very good reasons, these posts will be shorter and not on schedule!


My Story So Far

In the middle of my story-in-progress, Memory Exchange, I added the interplay between the two main characters that gives two main complications to the story. In my case, the ending has already been telegraphed somewhat. Robert, my MC, has his reservations about using this power that teleports him at the cost of specific memories. Carla, his lover and mentor, appeals to his desire to be with his mother for Thanksgiving and his desire to truly use this new ability she has taught him.

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Building a Short Story Part 2 – Results

You can see more of these exercises here.

 

For some very good reasons, these posts will be a bit shorter and not necessarily on time. I’m still teaching writing to advanced ESL students in September – these posts are helping me build a new approach, so I will work to get them finished!


From my last post:

My Story So Far

Main Problem:

An amateur stage magician learns real magic from his lover and mentor, but is unprepared for the mental cost of using his newfound power.

Conflict 1:

MC learns that his flight to New York to see his ailing mom for Thanksgiving has been delayed, but his new powers offer him a way to get to her.

Conflict 2:

MC’s lover and mentor persuades him to try, despite his reservations. Clearly she has another motive for wanting him to advance so far with his magic so quickly, but MC can’t see it through his love for her and his desire to do something great with his power.

Writing the Middle

The middle of your story starts after the main problem facing the MC has been set up, and covers everything up until the additional conflicts have been laid out. As you write, check that the conflicts build off the original main problem to make it worse. The reader should feel that the MC is under more pressure, or that their life, the life of someone they care about, or any desire they value greatly is threatened by the escalating conflicts.

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*Both* of my entries in the Launch Pad Competition made the Top 75

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Well. This is certainly unexpected!

I got an email today from Launch Pad, a project run by The Tracking Board. I was very excited to see it, as the title suggested that one of the two submissions I put in made it to the next round.

I was wrong.

Both submissions made it to the Top 75

Deep breath. Exhale. Oh boy.

Both the sci-fi work Far Flung and the epic fantasy Bound in Shadows rated well enough with judges to progress into the Top 75.

 

Wow, I am excited! I don’t know how many entries there were overall, but the 2016 contest had over 1000 entries – I’m assuming this year’s had even more.

Now comes the really interesting part – one of my stories might make it further up in the ranks and get into the top 25, or even the top 10. The higher one of my stories gets, the more rewards I get – with a possibility of a full signing or publishing deal.

There’s also the Inkshares part of the contest – the top 3 stories submitted to both Inkshares and Launch Pad will get full publishing deals through Inkshares. But one of my stories can only win this if I start campaigning for crowdfunding AND my campaign reaches the top 3 on Inkshares.

Two entries in the Top 75!

This is great – it means that experts in the publishing industry are reading the preview manuscripts I submitted and eyeing them for their potential as books or even TV or movie projects. I’ll have to see which perks and extras from the contest I will win – it depends on how much further the stories go.

In a contest that must have had many, many entries, two written by me got enough regard to place in the top 75. I can brag about this. (Authors have to brag; it’s how we survive.) I feel great – my writing has potential and I can indeed get a novel published, one way or another.

 

Building a Short Story Part 2 – Raising the Stakes

You can see more of these exercises here.

In the last post, *I shared the beginnings of a short story. I attempted to set up the ‘reality’ of the magic in the story – our main character (Robert) can teleport himself, but it uses up his memory. The reader can also see how his mentor and lover (Carla) has a lot of influence over him – she’s clearly been goading him along through his magic training despite his reservations.

Now I can set up more conflicts and make things worse for my main character.

Robert wants to go back to his mother’s place for Thanksgiving. He’s planning to buy a plane ticket and just fly there, but Carla appeals to his vanity.  He wants to do much more with his magic than simple tricks – and Carla picks up on that and tells him to use magic to get to his mom’s place.

Robert is hesitant. He’s only been practicing short range teleport tricks, and he’s having trouble controlling the cost of the magic to his memory. Carla keeps pressing him, saying that the distance doesn’t matter – the magic works the same way regardless of the distance. She tempts him with a promise of more magic spells if he can prove his mastery of teleportation.

These are my complications – for this short story, I have two main complications that make the initial problem worse. For a longer story, you’ll need more complications – each one somehow relates to the initial challenge facing the main character (MC) and makes it more difficult then they realized.

My Story So Far

Main Problem:

An amateur stage magician learns real magic from his lover and mentor, but is unprepared for the mental cost of using his newfound power.

Conflict 1:

MC learns that his flight to New York to see his ailing mom for Thanksgiving has been delayed, but his new powers offer him a way to get to her.

Conflict 2:

MC’s lover and mentor persuades him to try, despite his reservations. Clearly she has another motive for wanting him to advance so far with his magic so quickly, but MC can’t see it through his love for her and his desire to do something great with his power.

Now come up with extra conflicts for your story.

If you are writing flash or slightly longer fiction, you’ll probably only need two conflicts that relate to the main problem and make it worse. Get the problems from your story’s environment, your character traits, or sudden accidents or incidents that could develop from the situation you’ve imagined. Your MC should be in a really difficult situation – and the reader should wonder just what they will do next.

I’ll share my results on Thursday.  See you then!


*Yay, I finally got links to show up blue, like they should be!

Building a Short Story Part 1 – Results

You can see other writing exercises here.

As I said on Tuesday, I’m working with one of my old stories and improving it. Here are the details I had to set up my new take on the story:

Two word & single-sentence description:

Ambitious magician: Robert is an ambitious stage magician who learns a real magic spell, along with the terrible cost of using it.

Character desires:

Robert wants to be a rich and famous magician. He is also passionately in love with Carla, the seasoned performer who taught him real magic.

Story Conflicts:

Robert’s mom is alone for Thanksgiving, but his next show is right after – he needs to be with her.

Carla wants him to use his new magic to get to his mom and get back quickly, but Robert realizes he will have to sacrifice a special memory to power the teleportation spell.

Carla convinces Robert that he can control which memory he loses and he can give up an unpleasant memory. He doesn’t realize that she is conning him and has other plans.

The Beginning

This won’t be perfect, but it should be a good start. You can check your own beginning for grammar and consistency if you are sharing it publicly, but remember that you will revise it later. The beginning should be the first quarter or less – just enough to set up the premise and one conflict from your story. When I teach my short fiction class in September, I’ll have students share up to 250 words of a story that will be 1000 words or slightly longer.

Alright then, here’s the start of my own writing example, Memory Exchange:

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