For a while now, I’ve been looking for an excuse to start posting more writing on here. I saw the Flash Fiction Challenge over on Chuck Wendig’s blog the other day and decided to give it a shot. This week’s challenge was to take one of ten random titles and write a story around that. I went with “A Year of Bodies.”
This is my first attempt at flash fiction, but I had fun writing it, so it may become a regular thing! Also, fair warning, it’s a little on the fucked up side. I hope you enjoy!
“A Year of Bodies”
By Brian Work
“A little to the left. Just raise the—Like that, but… Yes, perfect!”
Roland stepped back and admired his handiwork. It was nice, but something was… lacking. The servants kept looking from Roland to his latest piece. They didn’t understand his genius, but that wasn’t what he paid them for.
Nobody appreciated good art these days. It was Roland’s least favorite part of the twenty-first century. Everyone was so damned politically correct nowadays. No calling women broads. No making fun of fat people. No peeling the skin off trespassers and carefully wrapping it around a mannequin.
Oh well. His house, his rules.
The servants—Jose and… Esta-something-or-other—had lasted much longer than the last pair. They were quiet. Roland liked that about them. The last two hadn’t been quiet, and he’d had to add them to the collection. If there was one thing an artist hated, it was being rushed in his work. A masterpiece takes time. Not that Roland considered any of his current works masterpieces. If anything, these were derivative of his Victorian collection. He wanted to blame it on his materials, that today’s subjects just weren’t as attractive as they were back in the day. But Roland knew that was just an excuse. He was the problem.
He slipped each of the men an envelope and let them go. They wouldn’t say anything, Roland was sure of it. They were quiet. Roland liked quiet.
As he walked the length of his gallery, Roland knew he was due for an expansion soon. It had been a busy year. He hadn’t dabbled with statues for decades, not since the pathetic excuse for art that was his Woodstock collection. But the girl at the opera had been so lovely… and so insistent.
He’d tried to be satisfied with the sex, he really had. But after living as long as he had, a woman needed to be truly spectacular to leave an impression. He would have left it at that, but she so badly wanted breakfast the next morning, and well… he was hungry.
Roland ran his fingers through her hair. Such lovely black hair… He smiled. This is what she would have wanted. She died as she lived: Enjoying the finer things in life.
And she would never have to suffer the injustice of losing her beauty. She could remain young forever. It was the best gift he could have given her.
Well, second best, but this century wasn’t well-suited to siring. The logistics were such a nightmare. Easier to just kill them and be done with it.
So he had. But then the next week there was the girl at the theatre. Then the woman at the bar. Then the bartender. Then the detective…
Art was addictive. As soon as you thought you were done, it pulled you back in.
She was a fine piece of work, though. She’d preserved nicely. That was a stroke of good luck. Even if you used the best techniques and materials, you couldn’t always account for genetics. Some bodies just preserved better than others. It had been a hard lesson to learn when he was younger, but it was a valuable one. Sometimes, the blame just didn’t lie with you, and you had to accept that some people just made terrible subjects.
But this girl… Roland almost regretted not turning her. She had the looks, the attitude, the hunger… Unfortunately for her, he just wasn’t in the mood for a commitment.
Roland paced down the gallery, each step a little heavier than the last. He let out a long sigh. That girl really was his finest piece here… It was almost depressing. Usually his collections gradually progressed in quality, but that wasn’t the case here. Twenty-seven works of art, and none could match her in beauty, form, or pure fun of the kill.
He stopped. His head snapped back to look at her.
That was it! He wasn’t losing his touch as an artist. He was losing his touch as a killer! All the others had been kills of necessity or some sort of… obligation to create. A true artist couldn’t force art to happen on just any canvas that walked by. He had to be discerning. Seek out the best canvas possible. Only then could real art happen!
Roland laughed. He rushed back to his muse, his Calliope, and kissed her cold lips. This beautiful, wonderful girl. He’d been so blind, and now she’d opened his eyes.
He brushed his thumb over her cheek. The rest of them could burn. She was the only piece worth saving. He would take his lessons from her and use them for next year’s collection.
Next year, he would reintroduce himself to the world.
One of the benefits of having a beta reader who’s also an awesome artist is you get sweet fan art like this from Marissa Trudel, featuring Lilah Martinez (aka Chimera) from the first book in my upcoming Knights of Fate series. Even superheroes-in-training have their role models.
I’ve found that, especially in the last several years, I’ve been more drawn to writing female-driven stories. My female characters tend to be the ones I enjoy writing the most and whose voices seem to come most naturally. I think a big part of that is because I was raised by, grew up around, and befriended lots of badass women over the course of my life.
So this is a thank you to all of the badass women who have helped shape me and inspire me. I wouldn’t be the badass I am without the badasses all of you are. Much love!
UPDATE: The movie was amazing! It was everything I wanted it to be and more. No Man’s Land had me all sorts of emotional.
Big news! My first feature film, Uncommon Law, is now available on Amazon Prime! You can stream it for free with your Amazon Prime account, or purchase/rent a digital copy. Now’s a great time to go check it out, and if you enjoy it, please share with your friends and leave a review on Amazon or IMDB. Thanks, and much love to you all!
For the last decade or so, I’ve been doing all my writing on a computer. Before then, I wrote everything by hand and then transcribed it, but as I discovered writing programs like Final Draft, Celtx, & Scrivener, I started doing all my writing on the computer. And that worked fine for a while.
Lately, however, I’ve been finding myself way too easily distracted when at the computer. I fall into the black hole of Facebook & Twitter, & the next thing I know it’s an hour later & I haven’t written anything. Such is the result of having the willpower of a blueberry scone.
When I was creating the outline for Into The Black, I did the whole thing by hand. It was freeing and helped me to just get words down on the page without feeling like they were set in stone. I wrote the first draft in Scrivener, but I definitely spent more time procrastinating & being distracted than actually writing. And a big part of that has to do with the damn computer itself and the stupid internet.
As I looked at the middling progress I’ve made on my found footage horror novel over the last month, I knew I wanted to try something new with it. So rather than writing on the computer, I’m disconnecting and doing the writing by hand. Less distractions means less excuses I can make for myself.
I have stories to tell, and nobody’s going to give a damn about them if they never get written. And that’s on me. That’s something I can control.
I mean, shit, I wrote, directed, & produced a feature film. I can look at the Uncommon Law blu-ray shelved right next to Underworld in my movie collection & see proof that I can make things happen. I’ve got a completed draft of Into The Black as a constant reminder that I can get things done if I stick to them.
So no more excuses. No more avoiding writing due to a fear of failure. Time to kick fear’s ass and send it packing. I don’t have time for that shit. I’ve got work to do.
When I was in college at Valdosta State, I wrote a one act play called “Reason” about my friend Jenny who passed away suddenly a few years earlier. The next year, it was produced at VSU as part of the Immediate Theatre Project. The whole process, between writing the play & seeing it produced, was cathartic for me & helped me come to terms with her death.
I’ve been wanting to revisit it since then, as I feel I can do it greater service & tell that story better, but I wasn’t sure how to build on it. Recently, while working on my found footage novel, I finally realized how I can tell this story in a way that will better allow me to explore the emotions that have been tugging at me since she passed.
I may already have a lot on my plate, but I’m going to see if I can fast track this project for this year. I’ve worked with great teen actors at three high schools in the area, so I know the talent is there. Now’s probably a good time to do this, seeing as I don’t know for sure that I’ll still be in Atlanta a year from now. More importantly, this is a story I need to tell, and it’s something I just feel I have to do.
Despite the eternal struggle that was 2016, it was an extremely productive year for me professionally.
– After 5 years, my first feature film, Uncommon Law, is officially complete & available on digital, DVD, & Blu-Ray!
– Completed the first draft of my debut novel, “Into The Black.”
– Directed two plays: “Much Ado About Nothing” at Parkview High School and “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” at Collins Hill High School.
– Taught high school drama for three months at Collins Hill.
– Shot the video portion of a found footage YA horror novel I’m working on.
All in all, a successful year! No time to slow down, because my goals for 2017 include:
– Editing “Into The Black” and querying agents.
– Writing & editing the found footage novel.
– Finishing the three screenplays I’ve got in various stages of completion.
– Resuming work on my urban fantasy novel.
– Making more regular blog posts on here.
Time to get at it!
Exciting news! Uncommon Law has been selected for the 2017 Atlanta Independent Film Festival! The movie will be screened on Saturday, February 4th at 8pm at Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre in Atlanta! If you haven’t seen it yet, this is a prime opportunity! It is also available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital in the shop.
Visit www.atlindiefilmfest.com for tickets & full details.
The hits keep on coming! My first feature film, Uncommon Law, is now available for streaming and digital download from Vimeo On Demand! For the low, low price of only $9.99, you get the movie, the blooper reel, and the audio commentary. And if you prefer DVD or Blu-Ray, you can still preorder a copy in the shop!
This movie has been my baby for the last five years, and today marks the first day it’s officially available to be watched by people all over the world! To say this is a dream come true would be an understatement. I hope you’ll give it a watch and that you enjoy watching it half as much as I enjoyed making it!
After five long years, the time has finally come for the release of Uncommon Law on DVD & Blu-Ray! It’s been a crazy journey getting to this point, and I’m thrilled to finally share it with the world. Uncommon Law is now available for pre-order in the shop!
- Special Features include a blooper reel and audio commentary with writer/director Brian Work, actor Mick Taylor, and production manager Amy Morrow.
- Blu-Rays cost $20 and DVDs cost $15.
- Shipping is free within the United States.
- Discs will ship on or before November 15, 2016.
About Uncommon Law:
After years of bailing each other out of bad dates by pretending to be married, best friends and longtime roommates Brendan & Melissa receive a court notice that they are now common law married.
Uncommon Law was written & directed by Brian Work, and stars Mick Taylor, Christie Vozniak, Myles Grier, Jules Nobles, Rob Epstein, Mandi Christine Kerr, Kyle Tutton, & Lacey Patten.
- The World of King Arthur by Christopher Snyder: I’ve been doing a lot of research on Arthurian mythology, and this is one of the best resources I’ve found thus far.
- Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee: This is the book that got me into reading comics. My roommate at the time handed me the first issue, and I got hooked pretty quick.
- Nightwing Vol. 1: A Knight in Bludhaven by Chuck Dixon/Scott McDaniel: Nightwing’s my favorite comic book character, and this is the beginning of Dixon’s great run on the title.
- Kingdom Come by Mark Waid/Alex Ross: This whole graphic novel is a work of art. Fascinating storyline with amazing artwork.
- You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day: I’m a big fan of Felicia Day. Her “just do it” attitude is inspiring and uplifting for creative types looking for the push they need to make something big happen for themselves. But most importantly, this book was important to me for helping me come to terms with some of my own struggles with anxiety and depression.
- Timeline by Michael Crichton: My favorite Michael Crichton book. I vividly remember being engrossed in this book during high school, and then being extremely let down when I saw the movie.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling: I didn’t read the Harry Potter books until last year (I know, I missed the boat there),
- A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin: Throughout high school, I didn’t read a whole lot. The vast majority of my reading during that time was fanfiction. A Game of Thrones is what got me back into reading, and ever since then Martin has been one of my biggest influences as a writer.
- Paper Towns by John Green: I’ve started getting into YA lit over the last couple years as I’ve been wanting to write something for that audience, and John Green’s books have really struck a chord with me.
- The High King by Lloyd Alexander: I loved The Prydain Chronicles growing up. The High King struck me with how epic it was, and with how ruthless Alexander was with his characters.
- Changes by Jim Butcher: The Dresden Files books have passed A Song of Ice & Fire as my favorite series, and Changes is my favorite book in that series. You want to talk about a book that changes the entire complexion of a series, this is it. The whole second half is just a non-stop, edge of your seat thrill ride.
- William Shakespeare: The Complete Works: Originally I was going to include Macbeth and Much Ado on this list, but rather than cut something else I just went with Shakespeare’s complete works instead. I’ve always been a fan of Shakespeare, but somehow in the last year I’ve found an affinity for analyzing and directing his work.
- The Collected Plays of Neil Simon, Vol. 1: I did a study on Neil Simon in college, reading and analyzing 20 of his plays and then writing a play in his style. Helped me gain a whole new appreciation for his work.
- The Lion in Winter by James Goldman: My favorite play. Even though I’ve mostly transitioned to writing and directing, this is one play that I’d still love to perform in.
- Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out by Mick Napier: A must read for anyone involved in improv, sketch comedy, or acting in general.
- Directing Actors by Judith Weston: I love the way Weston talks about working with actors, communicating with them on their level and using playable direction. That’s guided me as a director since I first read this book back in 2003.
- Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez: This book helped inspire me to say to hell with the odds and try making my own movie. Granted, my first attempt in 2004 failed… as did my second attempt in 2005. But years later I would finally succeed with Uncommon Law!
- Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder: I’ve used elements of Save the Cat in every screenplay I’ve written in the last ten years. Although I’ve begun deviating from the structure he defines, it’s a wonderful starting point for anyone getting into screenwriting. And I still swear by his breakdown of genres as the best way to think about story.
- Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland: After years of writing by the seat of my pants, I picked up Outlining Your Novel and used the system within to outline Into The Black. Thanks to that, I’ve written more on ITB than on any of my previous writing projects that fizzled out partway through. 102k words and still going strong!
- On Writing by Stephen King: Part memoir, part book on writing craft, tons of valuable information for writers.