Aphelion Issue 183, Volume 18
April 2014
 
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Hello and welcome to the April 2014 issue of Aphelion Webzine!

Everyone on the staff has been hard at work to bring you this new issue. As usual, there are plenty of stories, poetry, Flash Fiction, and our Forums section is open for reader comments on each piece. Thanks to the feedback offered to the writers in the Forums, they learn what they have gotten right, and where they could make improvements. Please do visit the Forums and let people know what you think of their work.

The beginning of a story often seems to be the most difficult part to write. There's a grand idea that the writer wants to explore, or an exciting scene that they want to convey. But how does one get to that point from the Dreaded Blank White Page? How does one grab the reader's interest right away and get them to keep turning the pages until the story is complete?

One tool in that quest is called a Narrative Hook. That is a line or very short paragraph that is designed to latch on to the reader's attention. The Narrative Hook is intended to make the story so tempting that the reader wants to know what happens next. There's an art to writing a good narrative hook. Good writers make it look easy, to a reader. But other writers know just how much editing and polishing it takes to craft a hook that works effectively. We might discard a dozen different ideas before we finally hit upon the one that is right for that particular story.

My most famous example from my own stories is: That's the trouble with time travel, said the man with blue hair. You can't do anything without creating a paradox.

That one simple pair of sentences launched the entire Mare Inebrium spaceport bar series. Nearly one hundred stories to date, and none of it would have happened if I hadn't dreamed up those two sentences. Once I had my hook, I had top know what happened next. As I composed what happens next for the story, I wound up creating the backdrop for the entire series. Now, a spaceport bar isn't a new idea at all. Lots of writers before me have used that trope to create many wonderful stories. Some of those influenced me as I crafted my own bar to tell stories in that first time. And it wasn't even supposed to be a series. It was supposed to be a one-off, a stand alone tale. But when I finished, there was more I wanted to say. So I went back there for the next one. And again, and again, once other writers had joined me in the fun.

But to get back to the hook... Go back to your favorite books or short stories. Take a closer look at the opening lines. See for yourself just what grabbed your attention and prompted you to finish reading that first page, and then turn to the next page, and keep turning pages until the tale was done. Good writers make it look easy, don't they? But sometimes that narrative hook turns out to have been composed after the rest of the story was written. Or somewhere in the middle of the story. Or it could even have been written as a list of narrative hooks that the writer simply jotted down for later use. Indeed, Aphelion used to have a little contest that was nothing more than a list of narrative hooks that writers could use to prompt themselves into creating a story to go along with them. That was quite successful, back in the day. There were many writers who took one of my narrative hooks and ran with it. They created stories I couldn't have written, from a few simple lines that just popped into my head one day.

Try that yourself sometime. Make a list of opening lines for stories. You don't have to use them right away. But make that list and save it for when the Dreaded Blank White Page has you by the throat. You never know what might happen. But you will enjoy the feeling of creating something from a little glimmer of an idea.

Well, there should be loads of new stories and poetry for you to enjoy in this issue. I really should quit rambling on and let you get to them. Enjoy!

Dan

BOILERPLATE:

First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be useful while we transition between e-mailing lists. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days.

Dan's Music Page This is my promo page here at Aphelion. All the links below, and more information about the albums, are located here.

The Never Bank On A Learning Curve CD on the Create Space website. My first album, with a wide range of styles and genres, covering the past three years of my working with the MAGIX Music Maker programs.

The Second Helping CD on the Create Space website. My second album, with just as wide a range of different musical styles, showing just how much I've learned in the past three years.

Dan's Studio-D Page on the Bandcamp website. Digital downloads of the albums, or each individual song if you prefer it that way. Just click on the album cover thumbnails and you'll see a list of each song on the album. Next to the song titles are links to read the liner notes, or to download the individual song. You can listen to each song for free. There is also a link to download each entire album at one go. I cannot say enough about Bandcamp! This is an amazing website. I have Rob, and many other friends, to thank for finally talking me into checking it out.

Here are some links to pages I have up promoting my music. When my book comes out I'll add those links to the promotion page, too. So far, there are links on that page to the Create Space Preview songs, the Create Space page for each album, the Amazon.com listings, and the link to the digital downloads page.

And here's a link to my Sound Cloud page:

Dan's Sound Cloud Page where all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,

Dan all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,

Dan


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ON THE COVER

Title: A Galactic Spectacle
Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, SAO, CXC, JPL-Caltech, and STScI.