Snowflake Method Step 6 (cont.) -e


Snowflake Method Step 6 (cont.) -e

by Adam Huddleston

This week, I am continuing Step 6 of the Snowflake Method.  See my previous blogs for explanation on the process. Here is the second paragraph of the one-page plot summary:

Before each game, Dwight Lara, the Yellowjackets’ possible savior, performs a ritual of dark magic.  In order for the spell to work, a human life must be sacrificed, resulting in the death of a fan sometime during the game.  The deaths occur in a variety of ways, and while the public begins to view the Yellowjackets as an “unlucky” team to watch in person, no one suspects their new player.

Dwight Lara, all one-hundred seventy pounds of him, slid into the locker room like a cold shadow.  His smile was infectious. He nodded to each of his new teammates in turn, then quietly set about placing his new gear in the small locker assigned to him.  

 

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Snowflake Method (cont.) -D


Snowflake Method (cont.)

by Adam Huddleston

This week continues Step 5 of the snowflake method for writing created by Randy Ingermanson.  For more details, see my previously submitted blogs.

 

Stephen Craight-

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with the game of baseball.  My father made sure I had a bat (crochet) in my hand as I lay babbling in the crib.  Once I turned three, I was pushed into a toddler’s league where the coach was thrilled just to have one of his players not stagger away with the ball in his mouth.

I played every year, watching as my skills improved to the point where I was eventually offered a scholarship to play at Louisiana State University.  From there I was drafted by the Cleveland Indians and placed in their farm system. Although my time in the majors was short, I made a strong enough impression that the White Sox gave me an assistant coaching job once my playing career was over.

The first time I met Dwight Lara, I was skipping the Amarillo Yellow Jackets, a small but talented semi-pro team in the Texas Panhandle.  I remember him being a tall, lanky kid. From the Bahamas with skin as dark as midnight. Not a bad outfielder and the kid could hit.

We were at the halfway point of the season, the time of year the majors play their all-star game.  The Jax weren’t even sniffing contention. We brought Lara in and our season turned around immediately.  We didn’t win every game, but most of them. Week by week, the boys began creeping up the standings.

Something pretty morbid was starting to happen though; folks were dying at our games.  I mean, actually dying. It was just a handful of fans, but the crazy thing was, they only passed during the games that we won. The police never got involved with the team, because the causes of death were always outside of our influence.  Some had health-related issues, some choked on food, a couple were due to stadium security. It was sad, but…we were winning.

Before a game one night, I remember it was the last part of a homestand, I couldn’t find a clipboard to attach the lineup sheet to.  When I checked the seldom-used room at the back of the locker room, I saw something I later wished I hadn’t. Lara was kneeling on the floor, facing away from me.  In front of him was this…idol, I guess is the closest term.  He was whispering something over and over, kind of a chant.  The kid must have heard me behind him, but when he turned around, he didn’t look startled in the least.  Just calmly nodded at me then turned back to what he was doing.

I put two and two together and figured he was responsible for the deaths somehow.  I felt bad about it, but I let him keep doing his thing.

Winning is addictive.

Well, we made it to the championship series, and one night Lara comes to me and tells me that he’s suddenly grown a conscience.  Says he can’t perform his spells anymore. I told him real quick that unless he wanted me to rain down destruction upon him (and his family), he better keep it up.  He refuses so I contact a man I knew from my days in Chicago. He knows a guy who knows a guy, and such. The next thing I know, this goon is knocking on my front door at home and offers to “take care” of Lara’s son.  It was my final mistake in a history of bad mistakes.

The last game of the series, I get word that this guy has offed Lara’s kid somewhere in the stadium.  We end up winning the game, but before the confetti has even had a chance to set in the outfield grass, Lara finds me and takes me out.  The kid separates my melon from my shoulders.  After that, everything is dark.

 

Snowflake Method (cont.)-C


Snowflake Method (cont.)

by Adam Huddleston

 

Last week, we went through Step 4 of the snowflake method for writing created by Randy Ingermanson.  This week, I will continue with Step 5 for my story. In Step 5, you’re supposed to write up a one-page description of each major character (a synopsis told from their point of view) and a half-page for each minor character.  To keep this blog from getting too large, I will focus on one character a week.

Dwight John Lara-

I was born in Nassau, Bahamas on December 26, 1994.  Both of my parents worked in local government, as aids in the House of Assembly.  I grew up playing many sports, but baseball and soccer are where I excelled.

When I was a young boy, there was an old man living in one of the poorer areas of Adelaide Village. He would do magic shows for the kids and treat us to ice cream if we were lucky.  I remember he had a big hound dog with one eye missing that always slept under his chair as he enchanted us with disappearing coins and card tricks.

One day, he pulled me aside as the rest of my friends were leaving for home.  He asked if I wanted to learn some of his magic. I said of course. He brought me inside his little hut and sat me down in front of a blazing fireplace.  Why it was lit in July was beyond me, but, he was a little off.

“How good of a baseball player do you want to be,” he asked.

“The best, Mr. Rogue,” I responded.

“Then let me teach you something…special.”

He then proceeded to impart upon me a knowledge I eventually wished I had never learned.

Years later, I graduated from high school and received a scholarship to play at a small college in Mississippi.  Although my team finished each season well back of first place, I never used the secrets Mr. Rogue had taught me.  I was too afraid of being caught.

Eventually, I wound up playing for an adult baseball league in Dallas, Texas.  After an embarrassingly long losing drought, I decided to put my dark teachings to use.  I only employed it a handful of times, but I noticed that we always won those games.

In the summer of 2018, I received a call from the Amarillo Yellow Jackets, asking if I was interested in playing center-field for them.  I figured this was the closest I would ever be to the majors, so I quickly agreed. Besides, how could I turn down a contract worth six digits?

Their season was at the halfway point and they were not even close to sniffing the top of their division.  I played my heart out for them but found myself batting a little south of .200. Our manager, Stephen Craight, started looking at me in a way that made me feel my days with them were numbered if something didn’t change.

After a road trip were the team won one-of-six, I decided to dust off my “little bag of tricks”.  I found a small room (not much more than a broom closet) in the back of our locker room, and performed the dark ritual before our first home game.  We won, and I heard later that a man had suffered a fatal heart attack midway through the sixth inning.

I continued the same spell for the next two nights, and we were victorious in both of them as well; at the expense of an elderly lady who had a stroke and a drunk fan who choked on an enormous hot dog know as “The Big Donger.”  Deep down, I began to truly feel remorseful. I always hoped that whomever was dying, it was just their time to go.

By the time the playoffs rolled around, I was ready to stop the hexes all together.  Craight came to me one night and told me he’d seen what I was up to, and that I better continue.  When I informed him that I wouldn’t, he threatened me and my family.

An hour before the championship game, he was nowhere to be found.  We were managed by Johnny Langston, our assistant skipper. We won the game, even without my black magic, and moments after the last out I received a phone call that my son had been murdered in his seat in the stadium.

I walked through the locker room in a daze, and there, coming out of that little broom closet was Craight.  Without even thinking, I attacked him and we struggled for several minutes before I was able to kill him. I found a large blade in the “magic room” and separated his head from his body.

Holding his head in my left hand, I walked calmly out to centerfield, completely ignoring the cheering of the fans and the confetti that blew around in the Amarillo wind.  A dozen stadium security guards surrounded me with their guns drawn. With my boy gone, I had nothing else to live for. I sucked in a deep breath, and whispered my final spell.  The entire stadium collapsed inward, killing everyone.

 

Snowflake Method (cont.)-B


Snowflake Method (cont.)

by Adam Huddleston

 

The past couple of weeks, I have been trying out the snowflake method of writing created by Randy Ingermanson.  This week is Step 4: Expand each sentence of the one-paragraph summary into its own paragraph. Here was my summary:

When the Amarillo Yellowjackets find themselves at the bottom of their division, they recruit a mysterious center-fielder in the hopes of turning their season around.  As their luck begins to change, a startling fact becomes apparent; fans are dying at their games. The club manager discovers that his new player is a master of black magic, and is responsible for the tragedies.  When the team makes the championship series, conflict arises between player and coach concerning the fielder’s role on the team. The aftermath of their feud results in the greatest horror yet.

Midway through the 2018 season, the Amarillo Yellowjackets are dead-last in the Southwest division of the American Baseball League.  The teams’ recruiting scout hears rumors of an excellent center fielder playing club ball in east Texas. General manager Stephen Craight quickly recruits him, hoping to at least pull his ball club up to a .500 record.  

Before each game, Dwight Lara, the Yellowjackets’ possible savior, performs a ritual of dark magic.  In order for the spell to work, a human life must be sacrificed, resulting in the death of a fan sometime during the game.  The deaths occur in a variety of ways, and while the public begins to view the Yellowjackets as an “unlucky” team to watch in person, no one suspects their new player.

Craight walks in on Lara before one of their games and witnesses his ritual.  His suddenly puts two and two together and realizes what is causing the fatalities.  Internally, Craight is torn between the horror of the present situation and the possibility of winning the championship.

The team breezes through the remainder of the season and is to play in the championship game.  Just before the game, Lara explains to Craight that he will no longer be performing the ritual.  After losing the argument, Craight secretly tries to complete the spell on his own, even going as far as to have Lara’s son murdered at the ballpark in hopes that the Yellowjackets will win.  

Lara discovers what has happened, and once the game is over, kills Craight in the dugout.  The cheering crowd watches in horror as Lara slowly walks to his position in center field holding the severed head of his general manager.  After casting one final spell, the entire stadium collapses inward, killing everyone in attendance.

 

Snowflake Method (cont.)-A


Snowflake Method (cont.)

by Adam Huddleston

Last week, I began my attempt at using the snowflake method created by author Randy Ingermanson.  This week, I’ll continue with Step 3.

Step 3: Write a one-sentence summary of each major character and a paragraph summarizing their goals, conflicts, and overall changes.

Dwight Lara (major character)- A new baseball recruit uses black magic to lead his team to the championship.

Dwight Lara, a twenty-three year old center fielder from Nassau, Bahamas is drafted by the Amarillo Yellowjackets midway through their season when they find themselves at the bottom of their division.  Seeking to help his team, he secretly begins using black magic spells he had learned growing up in the Caribbean. The payment for each hex is the loss of a human life. As the season draws towards its conclusion, Dwight begins feeling more remorseful for each death he causes.  When his deeds are discovered by the manager, he resolves to stop immediately. The manager however presses him to continue, and prior to the championship game, has the player’s son murdered in an attempt to win it all. Although the team is victorious, Dwight kills his coach and performs his final spell, a deed which causes the entire stadium to collapse, taking the lives of everyone.

Stephen Craight (major character)- A losing baseball team’s general manager forces his new player to continue his deadly methods of helping the team win.

Stephen Craight, a fifty-six year old general manager of the Amarillo Yellowjackets drafts Dwight Lara in an attempt to resurrect their season.  He discovers Dwight performing black magic in a little-used area of the locker room but says nothing when he realizes that the team is now winning every game.  His new player has a change of heart near the end of the season, so in an attempt to win the championship, he has Dwight’s son murdered. Lara discovers what has happened and kills Craight once the championship game is over.  

 

Snowflake Method


Snowflake Method

By Adam Huddleston

Over the next few weeks, I will be attempting to use the snowflake method created by novelist Randy Ingermanson to outline a horror story that I’m working on.

Step 1.  The one-sentence tagline

A new baseball recruit uses black magic to turn around his team’s failing season.

Step 2.  Expanding the tagline into a full paragraph

When the Amarillo Yellowjackets find themselves at the bottom of their division, they recruit a mysterious center-fielder in the hopes of turning their season around.  As their luck begins to change, a startling fact becomes apparent; fans are dying at their games. The club manager discovers that his new player is a master of black magic, and is responsible for the tragedies.  When the team makes the championship series, conflict arises between player and coach concerning the fielder’s role on the team. The aftermath of their feud results in the greatest horror yet.

Step 3.  Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each main character

To be continued next week!

 

Short Story Submission


Short Story Submission

By Adam Huddleston

 

Here’s a short story I submitted to WritersDigest.com. It was based on a picture of a young lady peeking her head over the edge of an office cubicle partition.

 

Macy’s head slowly surfaced over the edge of her home-away-from-home like a tiny periscope.

“There.”

“I see another one, over in Bill’s cubicle.”

The woman in the square opposite Macy’s rolled her eyes and took another sip of coffee.

“Girl?  What are you talkin’ about?”

Macy lowered herself back into her seat and spun around to face her computer.  Jessie never believed her, and why should she?  When you’ve only been released from the “facility” for a few months, people don’t want to put any credit in your perception of reality.

“I know it sounds…crazy, but there’s a little pink dog in Bill’s cubicle.  Can’t you see it?  It’s right over there, chewing on his seat cushion.”

Jessie made an over-dramatic effort of standing up and craned her neck in the direction of Bill’s workplace.  She gave his station a once over then plopped back down.

“Nope.  Nothin’ there but Bill, Macy.  Why don’t you get back to your calls?”

The brunette temp resisted the urge to poke her bottom lip out; a habit her parents had thought endearing when she was a child, but now came across mildly irritating.

Macy spent the next few minutes rearranging the office supplies on her desk, typing a few lines into the computer, and disinfecting her phone.  She hoped the urge to look again would lessen, but eventually, it caught back up with her.  Chewing her ragged nails, she poked her head over the cubicle’s edge again.

“Bill,” she whispered.  “Bill, its Macy.  Don’t turn around too fast, but there’s something in your cubicle.”

Bill Johnston had his earbuds in.  The only sounds he heard were coming from the iPhone in his pocket.

Macy watched in agony as the pink dog (she was pretty sure it was a poodle), nibbled ever-closer towards Bill’s backside.  It was inches away when she sprang into action.

In a rather impressive exhibition of athleticism, Macy hurdled the partition between their workstations and dove at the little canine.  She crashed into the back of Bill’s chair and the pair of them went sprawling onto the carpeted floor.

“Macy!  What are you doing?” Bill screamed.

When she finally got to her feet, she looked around for her prey but the cubicle was empty save for the two co-workers.

“I…I was trying to…help you.”

Bill stared at her with his mouth dangling open.  Gently, Macy reached over and lifted his bottom jaw back to where she felt it belonged.

A huge guffaw came from behind her and she spun around to see Jessie with her hand pressed over her mouth, wiping away tears.

“Wow.  Just, wow. I can’t wait till corporate hears this.”

Bill looked over his assailant’s shoulders at the woman laughing at them.  He popped the speakers out of his ears and tossed them onto the desk.

“Quiet, Jessie.”  Then he turned his attention to the temp.  “What exactly where you helping me with, Macy”

Macy stood in silence, her bottom lip slowly edging away from the upper.

“I thought I saw something.”

“What?”

“It doesn’t matter.  It’s not here.  It never was! I’m so stupid!”

Bill let out a sigh and slowly pulled the girl into a hug. He held her for a second, then approached the woman still giggling behind them.

“I wouldn’t laugh too much.”

“Why is that,” Jessie asked.

“Because something left a little pile of pink poop by your computer case.”

The Em Dash


The Em Dash

By Adam Huddleston

This week, I wanted to provide a quick reminder on how to appropriately use the em dash when writing dialogue.  The em dash is typically utilized when spoken dialogue is interrupted.  It can be used inside the quotation marks or outside, depending upon the circumstances.

For example, when dialogue interrupts dialogue:

“I don’t know what you’re talking-“

“Of course, you know what I’m talking about!”

 

For an example when action interrupts dialogue:

“I’ve had this truck for over ten years”-he ran his hand along the hood”-and I don’t plan on selling it now.”

 

I hope this helps in your writing!

Pantser or Plotter?


Pantser or Plotter?

Adam Huddleston

     So the questions come up when new writers look to begin their first work:

How do you write a story?  Do you begin at the first and then just plug away?  Do you organize all of your scenes first and then write it?  What’s the best way?

Guess what folks.  It really depends on the writer and their preferences.  I will say that there are pros and cons to each.  Let’s examine the two prevailing methods.

  • The “pantser” writes by the seat of his/her pants.They start from word one and let it fly. The plot unfolds as they write.  This can be a very exciting and creative method, but it can also lead to quite a bit of editing later on.
  • The “plotter” plans out each scene and plot twist before they begin to write anything. This allows the process to be more streamlined and decreases editing.

Most writers probably use a little of both and what works best for you is simply that; what works best for you.  I prefer to write and edit the “major” scenes that I know I want in the story then piece them together with “minor” scenes.

Try out both methods and see which you prefer.  Happy writing!

 

Continuation of Last Week’s Work


Continuation of Last Week’s Work

By Adam Huddleston

 

Here is some more from last week’s work.

I sit at a long lunch table in the school’s cafeteria waiting for the first bell. My classmates are chatting at that volume above casual dialogue but just below shouting.  After yesterday’s events, I don’t feel like talking at all, especially about the banal subjects that my peers seem obsessed with.

Who is sleeping with whom?  What website a student found that contains actual suicide videos?  Which sophomore stole the answer key to Friday’s exam?

I sip on a bottle of water and stare at the clock, willing it to move faster. It doesn’t and a sandy-blonde boy I’d spoken to only a handful of times grabs my shoulder.

“You hear about Shasta?”

I can smell something strong on his breath that isn’t chewing gum.

“Who’s Shasta,” I ask, not really caring.

“Shasta!  The girl that sits in the front cubicle in English.  I heard she got herpes.  Ain’t that funny?  Herpes!”

I stare at him for a full ten seconds then turn away.  He bursts out laughing and moves on to another table.

The bell for first period blares throughout the room and we all move en masse out of the cafeteria’s double doors and into the hallway.  The din of the lunchroom pales in comparison to that in the halls.  With my backpack and computer, I have no free hands to cover my ears so I make a quick bee-line to my first class, Civics.