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magicshoemonkey
December 30th, 2006, 01:28 AM
I've been trying to get this short story done for a couple of weeks, and I'm not getting anywhere. I thought maybe somebody on here could help me out. The thing is I'm not sure where to go with it or if it's even going in a good direction as is.

Basically the plot is that an alien who has moved to earth for unknown reasons has kept this man as a prisoner/friend/pet/etc. for a long time, and this story is about how the alien is killed and the man ends up traveling through space, first as a prisoner and then on his own. This story, however, only covers the death of the alien, and the imprisonment of the main character. Anyway, the idea is really not for a book or anything just a group of short stories about this guy. I'm not even sure I'll get farther than this one.

I don't have a lot, but maybe it's enough for someone to point out some problems or something, or tell me it sucks and I should go on to something else.

I'm still not quite sure what the rules are on language here, so I'll edit the languge in the story, though it's not much. It's probably obvious what it is, though. Here's the story:

We were sitting at our usual table in the back of the room listening to a local Jazz trio attempt “Giant Steps.” They weren’t doing so hot. Ed and I came into this same Jazz club every Saturday night to hear the local talent, smoke, and, some odd weeks, talk. The talent was scarce, but I think we came to this particular club because Ed liked the tobacco shop next door, and he always stocked up before we came in. Ed smoked about half a carton a day.
I was staring blankly at the drummer (the only real musician on the stage) with my gloved hands resting on the table, and Ed was staring at the ceiling, elbows resting on the table, holding his scotch in one had and a lit cigarette in the other. His blue dress shirt’s sleeves were rolled up, showing the cheap watch on his left hand and the worn WWJD bracelet on his right. “You ever read Chaucer?” Ed asked.
I jumped, suddenly jolted from my daze. “I think in school. I’m not a big fan.” Most of my reading consists of thrillers, mysteries and spy novels.
Ed smirked his capricious smirk. “One of the stories in there, the Miller’s Tale, there’s a guy who is told that Noah’s flood is coming again. He goes up into the ceiling of his house with a bunch of barrels and gets ready to drop them down when this little prick student who lives in his house tells him to. So, while he’s up there waiting, that prick student is screwing around with his wife. Did I mention that the student was the one who told him about the flood?”
“No, you didn’t.” I said.
“Oh, well, he was. It’s a riot. You should pick it up sometime.”
“I don’t know.”
“You should; it’s good stuff.” He took a long drag of his cigarette and released the smoke as if relief had suddenly washed over him.
Ed was always bringing up some classic novel or poem or story, asking me if I’d read it, recommending it to me. He wanted me to read more enlightening stuff, or so he said. He once became so angry with me for refusing to read Jane Eyre that he locked me in a room for six weeks, sending in food through the slot under the door. I nearly went insane.
Ed’s hand grasped my shoulder. “Let’s get out of here. They’re not really swingin’ tonight.” We got up and walked out into the city streets and the dark, muggy night. Ed threw the butt of his cigarette on the ground, pulled out another, and lit it.
We walked to Ed’s car, an 89 Accord with a “Baby-on-Board” sign in the back window and a "&#&# Happens” sticker on the back bumper next to the “Jesus” fish. Ed started the car and we drove out of the city and toward home.

Home was a rural town that was 20 miles from the city; it was a quaint little gathering of people who formed a town only because it was convenient. We lived in a two story Victorian-style house on the hill at the end of a long drive off the main highway. It was a nice place, really.
When we got home Ed went into the living room to read and listen to the news on the radio while I went to the undesignated room at the end of the upstairs hallway to play my guitar.
Ed’s experiments on my body have given me many gifts. My hands were much more suited to playing than they had been before; Ed had lengthened them and made the fingers able to stretch farther still. My stamina and strength have also been greatly increased. Without such enhancements I would probably not have survived as long as I have; but back to that evening.
I practiced for about two hours before I went down to grab something to eat. Ed was sitting in his chair reading some old pulp magazine; I walked into the kitchen to make a sandwich. That was when the doorbell rang.
“It’s way too late for Mormons,” Ed said.
“May be one of the neighbors, “ I said. We didn’t have any friends, or at least Ed didn’t. I didn’t keep in touch with anyone.
“They wouldn’t walk this far to borrow a cup of sugar. You go upstairs and get the shotgun.” Ed grabbed a pistol from the bookshelf next to the stairs and stuck it in his jacket pocket while I headed up the stairs.
I didn’t see what happened. I wish I had. All I know is while I was pulling the shotgun from the cabinet in the bedroom I heard a gunshot and Ed came running up the stairs screaming.

nicba
December 30th, 2006, 08:02 AM
I've been trying to get this short story done for a couple of weeks, and I'm not getting anywhere. I thought maybe somebody on here could help me out. The thing is I'm not sure where to go with it or if it's even going in a good direction as is.

OK, I'll try.


Basically the plot is that an alien who has moved to earth for unknown reasons has kept this man as a prisoner/friend/pet/etc. for a long time, and this story is about how the alien is killed and the man ends up traveling through space, first as a prisoner and then on his own. This story, however, only covers the death of the alien, and the imprisonment of the main character. Anyway, the idea is really not for a book or anything just a group of short stories about this guy. I'm not even sure I'll get farther than this one.


I think you really need some kind of background for your alien, and a reason for him being on earth and associating with a human. Even if you do not include it directly in the story, it should shape the actions of the characters. Is the alien hidding? Or is he here on some mission?

I also think you need to decide whether the man is a prisoner, a friend or a pet to this alien. Again, you might choose not to reveal it directly in the story - the man might even be unsure of his status himself. But the alien would know and it would shape his attitude towards the man. Especially in a crisis. If he's a prisoner, there ought to be some (logical?) reason why the alien would bother keeping him imprisoned.

Deciding these things will help you to flesh out your characters some more, I think. And in the process further direction for your story might suggest themselves to you.

The idea of a series of short stories about a human traveling around space in a (stolen?) spaceship is pretty cool. They could be fun reading, if you ever get them off the ground (so to speak).

magicshoemonkey
December 30th, 2006, 10:39 PM
I actually have some of this worked out, I just wasn't sure I wanted to post it, for some reason. This story came to me rather unusually, because normally I have stories pretty fleshed out before I write anything. This one I just kind of sat down and started writing because I wanted a story about a traveling jazz guitarist that started in a jazz club with him critiqueing the musicians.

The alien (Ed) is a technician who worked on a transport ship for a humanoid race that lives on a planet that is made up of ice-worlds at the poles and the middle circling the planet is a desert wasteland. The humanoids are very much like humans but their technology is advanced and they have a few odd quirks (the hand thing is something they have, I think I mentioned; really, the abilities that I say that the character has been given are only abilities Ed's race has). I really want to take the stories to that world eventually, because there are some interesting things that I want to happen to the man in the stories (I'm thinking of naming him Balaam and having him travel around with a talking donkey, but that may be too nutty).

Ed's background among his race is in what we would consider engineering, but he also knows a lot about biology and has a very strong interest in sociology. Therefore, he loves culture and culture quirks. That's why he wears the WWJD braclet, has the crazy stickers and such on his car, and other things I may mention later that I really haven't worked out.

He came to earth when he sneaked off his ship as it was passing close by to check out the planet (he used an escape pod; it was kind of a one time thing, doesn't work after landing on a planet), because it was an off limits planet to his people (they don't allow anyone to go to planets that do not already communicate intergalactically, was my idea). His curiosity is such that it's a flaw.

Really, though, when I said that the character is Ed's pet/prisoner/friend I meant he is all of those things. Ed captured him to study after he realized how close humans are to his race. He's really usually alright to him, but he has a really odd temper that doesn't really match what we would consider a reasonable temper (hence the Jane Eyre thing). They have become friends, to the degree that they respect and like each other, but are still not close and Ed really treats the man as kind of his pet. Ed wants to spend his life on earth now because he finds the planet so weird and intriguing.

Anyway, those are things I had in mind. I probably should have put them up before, but seeing how much space it took, I think you can see why I didn't, maybe. I really hope some of this comes out in the story (at least the temper thing), but maybe I need to work on that.

Maybe I'm not too confident in this story or something. I just don't feel it's right just yet...

Expendable
December 31st, 2006, 12:11 AM
Get confident. Start writing these stories, you've got a solid concept here.

There's the begining of some great details, you'll need more later. What you haven't explained is why the human puts up with the alien and how 'passable' the alien is - I'm assuming very passable. So what happens when someone discovers this guy is an alien?

I'm not sure about the human getting the abilities of the alien - sounds like a cheat. Trying to work around without the alien's unsual abilities, just his natural talents and skills could make for a better story.

TheGhost
December 31st, 2006, 09:23 AM
"This one I just kind of sat down and started writing because I wanted a story about a traveling jazz guitarist that started in a jazz club with him critiqueing the musicians."

Does the story have to have aliens? Can't it just be about a traveling jazz musician and his/her life? Is that what the story wants to be, and that's the reason you're having trouble with it?

Just because you like to write science fiction / fantasy doesn't mean you have to write in that genre all the time. Freedom!

magicshoemonkey
January 1st, 2007, 01:33 AM
I actually barely ever write Science Fiction or Fantasy, that's why I wanted to do this story as one, because I had an idea for a story about a man traveling around the galaxy and the planet he visits and I had the idea for this story about a jazz guitarist and decided to put them together.

I normally write fairly odd but mundane stuff. I have one story up over at the story section that isn't really Fantasy or SF, but I just put it up cause I had it and was planning to put up some more fantasy stuff later (I'm actually writing another story that is very light fantasy that is going much better than this one, though after this thread this one has started taking off more).

I really don't know if I would consider the abilities a cheat. I should flesh them out more, though. When I said enhanced stamina and strength, I had decided Ed doesn't need to sleep very often, and that he, through some genetic engineering, gave the ability to the narrator (I need to just call him Balaam; I think that idea is good). Mostly, he won't be Superman in space, just a guy who doesn't need to sleep a lot, doesn't get tired much, and stuff like that. He still has to eat, though, so that will probably hold him back a lot.

Thanks a lot for the help.