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Posts Tagged ‘wattpad’

Several years ago, I published two collections called Despumation (they’re actually still available: Here No. 1 & here’s No. 2). I was hoping to take it further, but I vastly overestimated the number of competent writers who also listen to extreme metal. The submissions were…bleak, and I don’t mean that in a metal way. It was rough, so I shut it down. Though I did not contribute to these, I did write one story (with the intention of writing more, enough for a separate collection of just my own stuff), which you can find here (along with a bunch of other great metal-based stories), or you can just read my story up on Wattpad.

It’s called “Dark Foul Light” and it’s based on Carcass’s song (not the whole album), “Heartwork.”

I got a message from a reader on Wattpad who read it because it ranked well with the #Carcass hashtag, and they liked it, but they found the story wasn’t what they were expecting. And, I get it — they’re absolutely right. Though, if you’re very familiar with the song, you’ll find the lyrics throughout, which is where I started when I developed the story altogether.

Anyway, it occurred to me that perhaps I could blog about that process. A lot of the submissions I got for Despumation were attempts at a fairly literal interpretation of relatively concrete lyrics, which, with pretty limited metal tropes, tend to end up being about the same sort of things — murder, violence, satan, etc. Very little variety. I get that it seems like a pretty obvious way to approach this kind of endeavor: concrete lyrics, concrete story ideas, literal story. But I found that if you open the song pool up to more abstract, conceptual lyrics, 1) you have much more to work with, and 2) the places you can go with it expands tremendously.

And you will definitely end up with stories that your average headbanger wasn’t expecting — and may not even like, which is a shame. But, as a writer and a metal fan, it’s deeply satisfying, and frankly, it’s a better story. Start with the lyrics as a foundation, and then do a little research about the band to find your setting, character names, etc. That then directs you to peripheral information that, while having nothing to do with the song per se, captures the culture the band was operating from, among other things. Another thing you can do, if it works, is use the structure of the song to set the pace. That’s a challenge.

There’s a lot you can do with it, other than simply find a song that already tells a rather direct story (which, in metal — as with any genre, I’m sure — tends to be fairly limited). Not that there’s anything wrong with using a song that really tells a story already — one can always expand on it. But, I find it less satisfying and it keeps you boxed in, in terms of creativity.

So, next Metal Monday, I’ll tell you how I came up with the story of “Dark Foul Light,” and from there, I’ll tell you how I’m currently devising a story based on Coroner’sDivine Step” from the Mental Vortex album. Yes, I’m back on the metal-based story wagon — working on that collection again.

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So, I’ve been posting stuff over on Wattpad. It’s a rough platform, and by that, I mean, it’s not the best place for what I write. It is populated mainly by teenaged girls thirsty for, apparently, alpha-male werewolf romances. I know, I didn’t know that was even a thing, but it goes along with the fact that “toxic relationships” is also very trendy there. This makes me sad in that these poor girls have clearly internalized the “if he hurts you, it means he likes you” line adults have been feeding them their whole, short lives. And that is a bummer. I hope they grow out of it.

Florida Man Cover Placeholder

But yes, Wattpad has a massive romance (of all sorts) readership, and although Florida Man: The Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story is, well, a love story, it is a love story among many other things. I’d feel wrong tagging it with the romance genre, because it is hardly romantic (depending how you feel about electro-stimulation), and exposing these poor unsuspecting girls to Bildo and MeeMaw’s Whackin’ Dick might be a little much.

DC Cover

I do have something else up there, though: Dread Confluence. It’s a short story collection of paranormal stories set in and around Pittsburgh, Pa (two novelettes and four short stories — so far. I think it needs one or two more to really round it out.). It is chronological and spans from 1873 to 2010, so far. It is basically my 2011 MFA fiction thesis, which I haven’t really looked at since, but I think it’s good enough for folks to read. There’s an additional story, called The Obstruction (that won’t be posted until later — I update 2-3 times a week, all installments are under 300 words) that I wrote a couple years later, which was prompted by my thesis advisor, who, upon receiving a brain cancer diagnosis, said to me that it was an apt topic for one of my “scary stories.” So, I wrote one for him. It was published, actually, in a Canadian anthology a number of years ago, but since it was set in Pittsburgh, I added it to Dread Confluence.

Why am I posting on Wattpad? I dunno, really. The whole process of querying agents and publishers (at least the ones who accept unsolicited manuscripts) is a lonely, isolated experience with very little in the way of response, let alone rejection. I got knocked out of the game by a variety of ongoing personal situations in the last handful of years, and while I kept writing and doing revisions, no one was reading anything. It feels like I should just be digging a hole in the backyard and throwing the stories in there, maybe dig them up if I can manage to get an agent to bite. When you’re a writer, and you’re going through the process, it gets extremely disheartening writing into a void.

Now, I’ve got a few people reading this stuff. And they seem to be enjoying it, which is a relief.

So, that’s why. Would I rather be publishing traditionally? Absolutely. But it’s a long, hard slough, and I’m not getting any younger. I’m still querying and whatnot, and I’m considering another foray into the self-publishing jungle, but we’ll see. This is fine for now, while I work on finishing this third novel, get a few more shorts for another collection, etc. I’m still working. I’m always working on something. It’ll all come together, eventually.

 

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