I agreed to help fellow crime writer, Stephen - who has, what sounds like a cracking anthology, out called Shot To Death - whereby I had to choose a starter sentence from one of his short stories... read all about it and Stephen's interesting insights into the short story below...
Stephen D. Rogers is the author of SHOT TO DEATH(ISBN 978-0982589908) and more than six hundred stories and poems. He's the head writer at Crime Scene (where viewers solve interactive mysteries) and a popular writing instructor. For more information, you can visit his website, www.stephendrogers.com, where he tries to pull it all together.
SHOT TO DEATH contains thirty-one stories of murder and mayhem.
"Terse tales of cops and robbers, private eyes and bad guys, with an authentic New England setting."- Linda Barnes, Anthony Award winner and author of the Carlotta Carlyle series.
"Put yourself in the hands of a master as you travel this world of the dishonest, dysfunctional, and disappeared. Rogers is the real deal--real writer, real story teller, real tour guide to the dark side."- Kate Flora, author of the Edgar-nominated FINDING AMY and the Thea Kozak mysteries.
"SHOT TO DEATH provides a riveting reminder that the short story form is the foundation of the mystery/thriller genre. There's something in this assemblage of New England noir to suit every aficionado. Highly recommended!"- Richard Helms, editor and publisher, The Back Alley Webzine
SHOT TO DEATH Blog March.
"I should have been sleeping but I couldn't" - C.O.D.
So begins one of the 31 stories contained in SHOT TO DEATH(ISBN 978-0982589908).
Within that beginning lurks the ending to the story and everything that happens between the beginning and the end. Or at least it seems that way to me.
"I should have been sleeping...." How doesn't lack of sleep complicate matters? Moods sour, tempers flare, and decisions stain.
"...but I couldn't." Why? Was the narrator keeping himself up or he was being kept up? If being kept up, was it something internal or something external? I imagine that if you compiled a list of all major events, you would find that very few of the positive ones developed out of exhaustion. Negative events? Exhaustion is probably right up there with drugs and alcohol.
"I should have been sleeping but I couldn't." The sentence ends on a down note, which means the story should as well.
So far, what I have is a situation, not a story. How do I get from the first to the second?
He should be sleeping but he isn't. Something is keeping him from sleeping. He hasn't been sleeping. He's exhausted, and thus his judgment is impaired. He knows he hasn't been sleeping and thus he decides to improve his situation by actively affecting whatever has been keeping him from sleeping. But his judgment is impaired. He acts on a plan developed when trying to change. His critical thinking is affected by the very situation he's trying to change. The more important changing the situation is, the less capable he is of making the right choices.
But the plan is already in play. He's just waiting for events to unfold, for the guilty to pay. (Thus the title, "Cash on delivery," and having to cough up the money after it's too late to cancel the order.) Ending on a down note.
All that remained was the writing.
For a chance to win a signed copy of SHOT TO DEATH, click on over to http://www.stephendrogers.com/Win.htm and submit your completed entry. Then visit the schedule at http://www.stephendrogers.com/Howto.htm to see how you can march along. And then come back here to post your comments. Phew.