A Weapon's Journey
by Frank Martin
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“Just for you,” she replied, her weapon trained directly at his head.
The other two soldiers followed her into the room and Colt smiled as he squeezed the trigger. “Too easy.”
Diving over a hail of green gunfire from Colt’s weapon, Adam sprung up and kicked Colt straight back into the wall. The injured super-soldier then raced around the room as Wolf opened fire, her shots trailing just a split second behind his movements.
Aiming at a spot ahead of Adam’s path, Raptor timed his shot and fired his launcher as Adam passed him by. The grenade round connected directly with the super-soldier and exploded in a green burst, blasting him straight through the wall and down to the street below.
Impressed, Raptor held up the lightweight weapon with a smile on his face. “Damn. Can I use this thing all the time?”
Barely paying attention to the question, Wolf answered him while helping Colt up to his feet. “Stay focused. We still have to finish the job.”
Wolf and Colt wasted no time leaving the room, but Raptor trailed behind, confused by her comment. “Finish the job? But I just hit him with a grenade launcher.”
Since his writing career began he's had multiple short stories published in horror anthologies by both Burning Willow Press and Stitched Smile Publications. Frank has also had comic shorts appear in the "fluff noir" anthology series Torsobear and the all-ages horror anthology Cthulhu is Hard to Spell.
Frank also wrote and produced the comic anthology series Modern Testament, which featured a wide ensemble of artists throughout its four volumes. Frank's novels include the YA sci-fi thriller Predestiny published by Crossroads Press and the zombie horror Mountain Sickness published by Severed Press.
Frank currently lives in New York with his wife and three kids.
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One of the first things they teach you about creative writing is that there are five basic elements of a story: characterization, setting, plot, theme, and tone (these can vary depending on how big of an alcoholic your instructor is). A story can not exist without any of them. You can try to remove setting by placing the characters in a void...but then the setting becomes the void. You can try to remove plot by just having everyone standing around doing nothing...then the plot becomes them standing around doing nothing. You can try to remove characterization...well, you get the idea.
To construct a story you have to make a decision about what one of those elements will be and then build up from there. I like to think of a story as a tower and all of these elements are your building blocks to create it. The bottom block is the most important as it will answer the question "why." Why is this story important to tell? Why do you want to tell it?
Personally, I believe the most important aspect of a story is theme. It is the central tenant to which every other element can rally around. It gives my story a purpose. A punch. That said, it doesn't have to be. There are plenty of stories that don't start with a theme at all. Comedies, for example, are more interested in tone, as they want to set up a good laugh. Romance novels might be more focused on characterization, as they want to see their protagonist fall in love or triumph over a heartbreak. Sometimes setting is the most important factor, such as in a period piece or a story built around a particular event.
Now even though this first block might be the most important, it is also probably the easiest to develop. Because it's your "why", the work is already done for you. It's your driving force behind wanting to develop a project. The trick to a good story are the blocks that come after. The ones you have to creatively mold in order to flesh out your tale. And it's not just what you're choosing to put in those blocks that matter. It's also the order in which you stack them in. Since each block is built upon the last, if you realize too late that one of those blocks was a bad choice, then the others that came after it will also be affected.
This process is supposed to be fun. Writing is a crazy endeavor. People isolate themselves for vast periods of time while staring at a screen, banging on a keyboard, and wrestling with their own thoughts. But we do it because it's enjoyable! The minute this painful process starts to become...you know...actually painful...then stop, change out a couple blocks, and see what fits better. Maybe the setting should be in space instead of the Wild West. Maybe it should be a horror instead of an adventure. Maybe the main character should be a boy instead of a girl. Or you could just do what I do whenever a story doesn't seem to be working: add zombies.
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