Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Mr. Rogers' Dangerous Neighborhood
Stephen D. Rogers is a short story writing maniac. As soon as your output goes into triple digits, my eyes cross. I bow to the numbers and humbly submit that maybe I aint shit. He's been published in places like Mouth Full of Bullets, Pulp Pusher, Spinetingler Magazine, Powder Burn Flash, Thrilling Detective, Beat to a Pulp and uh, Chicken Soup for the Mothers of Preschooler's Soul as well as many others.
To promote his new book of short stories, Shot to Death, Mr. Rogers is on what? a month long blog crawl posting on the first lines of the stories contained therein. In March he'll be posting at HBW friends' spots like those of Cullen Gallagher, Paul Brazill, Patti Abbott and Patrick Shawn Bagley. Incidentally, S2D has been collecting some kudos from folks like Linda Barnes, Kate Flora and Richard Helms. Not bad.
Take it away, neighbor.
I must have been strangling this asshole for twenty minutes
when somebody shot him dead.
- WHACKING FOR GOMEZ
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.
This first line came to me out of a response to rereading
Raymond Chandler on writing: "When in doubt, have a man come
through a door with a gun in his hand."
Why wait until I'm in doubt? Why not have the man with the
gun come through the door in the first sentence? And so I
The strangling-for-twenty-minutes bit told me the story was
going to be lighthearted, even if the sentence did end with
"dead." I also knew that there was going to be competition
involved, as two people seemed determined to kill the
There's another type of competition happening. The narrator
is using a hands-on approach, which is taking a long time
and doesn't seem to be working. The competing mechanical
approach not only works quickly, it allows the bullet to
appear before the man who pulls the trigger.
While the sentence does require that second man to appear,
it does not tell me anything about him other than he knows
how to shoot. Well, that's not true. The sentence tells
me about the narrator, and as the shooter has been set up
as the narrator's opposite, I can and will develop him with
that in mind.
All that remains is the writing.
For a chance to win a signed copy of SHOT TO DEATH, click over here, and submit your completed entry.
Then visit the schedule to see how you can march along.
And then come back here to post your comments. Phew.
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.