Even when they're fake, don't you like them anyway?
(Posts, I mean.)
"When my students ask why I write I say, 'Because I want to and I'm good at it.' I tell them what it will be like in the morning when I sit down to work, with few ideas and a lot of blank paper, with hideous conceit and low self-esteem in equal measure, fingers poised on the keyboard. I tell them they'll want to be really good right off, and they may not be, but they might be good someday if they just keep the faith and keep practicing. And they may even go from wanting to have written something to just wanting to be writing, wanting to be working on something, like they'd want to be playing the piano or tennis, because writing brings with it so much joy, so much challenge. It is work and play together."
Ruby drank her colored water and wiped her mouth. "None of that tarantula juice sold here, Mister. Can I have another one?" She was perspiring from the dance, and cinnamon colored tendrils curled at her hairline. Leo wondered if she smiled like this at every cowboy who swung through the doors of the Fat Chance Saloon, or if she could tell he needed encouragement to drop extra coins on the mahogany bar. The dance had cost him 75¢ and every drink was a dollar, but a night in Sam's Town wasn't cheap—or typical.
"Are you a boarder?" Leo asked, embarrassed, knowing what this implied.
"I'm stayin' here, if that's what you mean. But just for a while. I've got a little boy back in Greenville, and I'm trying to get on my feet so I can take care of him proper." Leo looked down at his calloused hands.
"Don't you go judging, me," Ruby frowned, unwrapping the ribbon she had around her wrist and tying back her thick russet curls. "It's not like I'm some life-long soiled dove. I'm only nineteen. I just need to make some money for me and JJ."
The tinny keys of the piano roused her sense of responsibility as Sam slapped the bar. "Gents, balance your ladies onto the floor. The professor is going to play us a waltz. Tickets please."
Ruby teased the paper stub from Leo's pocket, tore it half-way through, and twirled out of his reach, sweet-talking him with her eyes. "C'mon. Take a turn with a fallen angel."—Son of a Gun, by Marty Halverson
"I look at the opportunities that it appears I have missed out on, but when I look down at my two-month-old daughter sleeping in my arms I am struck with the realization that there is nowhere in the world that I would rather be at this moment.
"I have already started my full-time post-graduate employment as a stay-at-home wife and mother. While this is not a typical job for a recent law school graduate in today's world, I can't think of a better use for my fine education than to apply it as I love and serve my family."
It's not my usual genre, but I have fun writing anything! Here's the condensed version:
Girl falls for gunslinger—gunslinger ditches pregnant girl—girl marries hero—
hero and girl make good life, raise son—gunslinger comes after hero—
gunslinger's son saves hero.
(This idea could be a worth a quarter with a little effort.)
My client recorded his idea for the story on a digital recorder and hired me to turn it into a book. Since people don't talk in sentences, the word-for-word transcript starts like this:
"I want to, uh, tell a story, well I've got a story I, uh, want to tell, and, well, Jack Smith is a, well, he was a cowboy in Texas, and his training, I mean his job is training horses for the, uh, army. He trained horses for the United States Army in Texas. And he has this horse that's a beautiful, bright red color. He's a gunslinger, with a beautiful horse with a pure white tail."
~Step 1: Transcribe and format into paragraphs.
New and improved 5¢ version:
Jack Smith was a cowboy on a small ranch in Texas. Jack's job was to train horses so they could be sold to the US Army. Jack's horse was almost red. A pure white mane and tail stood out against it's shiny auburn coat. It was Jack’s pride and joy. All he had in his life was this beautiful horse.
Although Jack was very fast with a gun, he practiced whenever he could. He liked to shoot, but he was very fair. If a squirrel was on a tree, he waited until the squirrel blinked or gave some indication that it was going to move before he pulled his gun to shoot it. The same with a bird on the wing; he’d never shoot while it was a still target. A snake had to slither away before he took aim—any living creature deserved a chance. He worked on his skill as he traveled.
~Step 2: Go through 20 pages of text. Highlight work to be done.
Newer and improved 10¢ version:
Jack Smith was a cowboy on a small ranch in Texas. (Where in Texas? When? Describe Jack. Give a little background. Create authentic setting. What's the landscape in this part of Texas? Is Texas still a country or is it a state? Check history. Do we like Jack? Why or why not? Show don't tell.)
Jack's horse was almost bright red. A pure white mane and tail stood out against it's shiny auburn coat. It was Jack’s pride and joy. All he had in his life was this beautiful horse. (Are there red horses? Is it a male or female? What's it's name? Find out what you call female horses at various ages. Where did he get her? Why is she so special?)
~Step 3: Preliminary research for authentic details on:
clothing, saloons, horses, guns, geography, mode of travel,
distances, ranch life,Texas history, landscape, animals to shoot,
etc., etc., etc.
New 15¢ details:
~Step 4: Write first draft:
New and vastly improved 25¢ version:
Jack had lived a man’s life since he was a boy of fifteen. Back then he had no trace of the dark shadow that haunted his face, even after a close shave, or the deep drawl that charmed women and intimidated men. When other Texans called him Smitty, he took offense, his left hand never far from the pistol he wore tucked in the front of his pants. “It’s Smith,” he snapped. “Jack Smith.”
Besides his quick temper, Jack was known for his fast draw. It seemed to be inborn. He couldn’t remember a time he wasn’t shooting snakes or squirrels, blue jays or black crows. It got so he even let them play his game. If a bird wasn’t flying, he kicked up some leaves to scare it off the branch and into the air before he brought it down. Jack was fair. He didn’t pull his gun on unsuspecting varmints.
Sitting astride his bright red chestnut horse, Jack was conspicuous when he rode through town. At six feet, three inches, with thick dark hair and glacial green eyes, he looked menacing. “Come on, Big Red,” he murmured, although she responded to his movements as if she was part of him. They’d been a team since she’d first tossed her pure white mane and gazed up at him as a foal. Her blue eyes were unusual in a horse without white face markings, but Big Red was unique in many ways. The striking filly was the only female Jack was faithful to.
I'm only on page 5 of this rewrite, with at least 50 to go.
Then we'll start the serious editing, fact checking, and final proofreading.
It could turn out to be a pretty good story!