Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Life Is A Highway" (pt 4)

The first thing I settled on when I decided to write these two-three page interludes was a theme. I didn't want to make them bright and cheerful, especially since the other short stories I wrote weren't in that particular vein to begin with. Bright and cheerful would have felt very out of place with the overall theme of the book, which was dark and moody.

So I started the first story off not in my usual way, but like what most short stories I've read usually start out as: in the middle of a thought.

Note: At this point (mid-2007), the way I wrote all of my long-short stories was to start with a false ending, then write up to and then beyond that false ending. A prime example of this would be a short story I recently posted here called, "Golden Texas Tea" {click here for example}.

And the middle of the thought was that the reader was driving down a country road, thinking about the argument that they had with their girlfriend earlier in the day. The rest of the first story sets up the basic highway theme, where the reader finds an entrance to the magical (yeah I know, very plain description) highway, which immediately sets him/her off on the journey.

The reason I choose the Twilight Zone/Night Gallery motif was that I felt it was the perfect style to work with. Even though I liked Tales from the Darkside, Tales from the Crypt, and even Night Flight (for those who still remember the 80's), I didn't feel comfortable enough to write in those particular styles. Still don't to this day, as whenever I try to write that way, my stuff becomes too violent/sick.

However, the strange work experience that I got those many years ago (working with old newspapers), I've been able to put to very good use. Because I've been cursed/blessed with a good photographic recall, with minimal amount 1% and less of research applied, I can pull up from the deep recesses of my mind, pop culture/American facts dating back 100 years or so.

Basically, mini versions of the Twilight Zone.

It's not something I would recommend, adding these kind of pop culture references, unless you read gobs of old newspapers. I unfortunately read old newspapers, local and national, continuously from 1996-2001.

Sometimes the most obscure stuff you learn from work, can do wonders for your writing.

The second thing I settled on for these two to three page interludes, was in fact, to make them that length to begin with. When I started writing, I really didn't have any basic idea on the length. But the further I got with the story, the more I realized that I needed a decent stopping point, especially since the story was going to be intertwined with others.
Update: From the last time I gave a project update (2/5) to now, I've written nine more pages of the current story I'm working on, which strangely enough, is the fourth story in the series as it pertains to the connecting short stories. Because of the brief (four sentence) outline I mentioned previously, I should have no problem getting past the part where I got stuck originally. I think when all is said and done, the page count will probably be increased by about 40%.


  1. I very much like the Twilight Zone type of twist ending myself. I'm not sure what you mean by talking about this style as different from Tales from the Darkside or from the Crypt. What differences do you see there?

  2. Good question.

    I think that the Twilight Zone was a bit on the mild side, in keeping with the time period (60's) that it was shown in.

    Tales from the Darkside was, I think, much in the same vein as the Twilight Zone, but more creepier and just a shade more darker.

    Tales from the Crypt was just plain gory, probably keeping in with the William Gaines vision of horror.

    Don't get me wrong, I do like all three. But I feel that I wouldn't be able do the last two types well.

    With "Twilight Zone", I think I can harken back to that time when things weren't too pyschologically bent to understand.

    The story telling was done in such a way that it whatever was going on, however unbelievable it may appear, it was still treated as commonplace. I think that what I got written, skirts the very outer edge of believability like "Twilight Zone" does.

    "Darkside" was, in my opinion, a little more thorough with the probing into one's mind.

    "Tales/Crypt" is just something that doesn't appeal to me as a writer and as a reader.

  3. The Crypt one always freaked me out, whereas the Twilight Zone always looked... corny. :-)

    I liked the music, though!

    Congrats on the progress of the WIP!

  4. Thanks.

    The Crypt didn't really freak me out, so much as it grossed me out sometimes.

    The Twilight Zone may have been corny sometimes, but to me it still adhered to the real world just enough to make it sensible.


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