the official website for the writings of
contents copyright © 1998-2012 by ralph robert moore, all rights reserved
My novel Father Figure, a bestseller for its publisher in trade paperback, is now available for free in PDF format. Click here to go to a page where you can download the complete text of the novel.
When Mary and I first started looking at the Internet, sitting side by side in chairs, smiling at the monitor, we were charmed by the idea you could not only read the Internet, but write it, in a variety of ways.
One way to interact was to leave a message on a site, either in a forum or a guestbook, and I think our first such participation in that regard came on the Taco Bell site, which we had wandered to trying to find out whatever happened to the enchirito, a delicious, fifty-cent dish the fast food restaurant had, at that time, withdrawn from its menu. We were delighted to find several visitor messages at the site bemoaning the loss of the enchirito, and we posted our own, evoking its perfect form, its five black olive slices arranged scampishly across its top.
After that we discovered other sites where you could shoot dancing bears, build a cartoon body by dragging limbs across the screen with the left side of your mouse held down, and calculate the number of hours that had passed since your birth.
When I created SENTENCE I wanted to make part of it interactive in that same spirit. Since I'm a writer, I decided to offer visitors a chance to post their own writings on this site, but rather than just any writing, for what's the challenge in that, it would have to be a rewrite of a famous author, and in fact a rewrite of a specific passage in that writer's cannon. From that evolved what I think of as the "family pages" of SENTENCE: Every Man a King, Every Woman a Koontz, Every Child a Barker. Later, I added a fourth interactive feature, in which visitors could post their earliest memory.
Later still, I added additional interactive features, but all of these created by other people: a Brain Test, which allows visitors to discover the degree to which they are left- or right-brained; and a simple paddle game, Pong.rewrite best selling authors
Part of writing is lying in bed, awake but eyes still shut, breathing through your nose, letting your thoughts go where they may. Part of writing is scribbling down notes during the day hard to decipher when you sit in front of a computer six months later. Part of writing is the excitement of tapping out on a keyboard with your fingers the story itself, misspelling by misspelling, thrilling at how an embellishment wedges between two words. Part of writing is editing.
Sculptors talk of 'finding the statue in the rock', and that really is what editing does. Within each sentence is a perfect sentence, an ideal way of expressing the same ideas (ideas rather than idea because each sentence teems with ideas, like each fish net teems with snapper and flounder, scrod and halibut, thorny orange crabs, big ugly starfish, a shoe, and a tire tube with something written in yellow on the rim).
During editing, writing becomes woodworking, as you test each groove and dovetail to make certain they're going to support the weight of the reader's eyes. Words get rearranged, new ones slid in, old ones popped out, nail holes hidden with paste, until a sentence seems strong enough to span that wide, wonderful distance between periods.
This "Rewrite Best Selling Authors" section features three exercises in editing.
I've taken three well-known authors, Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker, and rewritten a passage from each man's work. The point to the exercise is to demonstrate that a scene can be written in a variety of ways, with a variety of words, through editing. At the end of each rewrite, I invite you to create your own version of the same passage, a rewrite I'll post on this page.
To share your rewrite with the rest of us, click on the button below the appropriate section and e-mail the text to me. I'll post it on this page within a week. In your e-mail, please let me know how you want to be identified as the author of the edit. This could be your real name, a pseudonym, or that great, long-lived author, 'Anonymous'.
Ready to be Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or Clive Barker? Think about it a little, write your sentences down in one of those fancy books full of blank pages with ragged edges, or on the back of a utility bill, then send it to me. Good luck!rewrite best selling authors
every man a king
m. thompson's rewrite | kevin fanning's rewrite | jon treliving's rewrite | k. stampfl's rewrite | joe mosher's rewrite | napolean hamberg's rewrite | phil allen's rewrite | jenny armstrong's rewrite | mark knight's rewrite | ann mcgillis' rewrite | shanna milutin's rewrite | robin mercer snead's rewrite | ingrid wilson's rewrite | peter lavitt's rewrite | donn coburn's rewrite
I've taken the opening paragraphs of a novella by Stephen King, probably the most popular writer since God came out with the bible, and rewritten them. The novella is The Mist, included in his 1985 collection, Skeleton Crew.
This is your opportunity to rewrite Stephen King, letting the rest of us know how you would present his opening scene.
Your version should at least be somewhat faithful to the original text. For example, in my rewrite I reference the limp flag, the shallow swim, the ham sandwiches.
The Mist first appeared in Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCauley, Copyright © 1980 by Stephen King. Skeleton Crew is published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, Copyright © 1985 by Stephen King. All rights reserved. The excerpt below is meant for review purposes only.
THE ORIGINAL TEXT
This is what happened. On the night that the worst heat wave in Northern New England history finally broke- the night of July 19- the entire western Maine region was lashed with the most vicious thunderstorms I have ever seen.
We lived on Long Lake, and we saw the first of the storms beating its way across the water toward us just before dark. For an hour before, the air had been utterly still. The American flag that my father put up on our boathouse in 1936 lay limp against its pole. Not even its hem fluttered. The heat was like a solid thing, and it seemed as deep as sullen quarry-water. That afternoon the three of us had gone swimming, but the water was no relief unless you went out deep. Neither Steffy nor I wanted to go deep because Billy couldn't. Billy is five.
We ate a cold supper at five-thirty, picking listlessly at ham sandwiches and potato salad out on the deck that faces the lake. Nobody seemed to want anything but Pepsi, which was in a steel bucket of ice cubes.
The American flag my dad hoisted over our boathouse in 1936 had laid limp against its white pole for weeks.
We were in the worse heat wave in northern New England history. The heat was a solid thing. Each time we had to walk through it, it got into our clothes, like glue.
That afternoon the three of us went swimming in Long Lake, but the water was no relief unless you went out deep. Steffy and I wanted to, but didn't, because Billy couldn't. Billy was five.
Afterwards, back home, we sat out on the deck, drinking Pepsi out of a steel bucket of floating ice. At five-thirty Steffy served supper outdoors, ham sandwiches and potato salad. I took a bite out of the middle of each triangle of sandwich- the best part- and left the rest on my plate. I didn't bother to pull the upside-down metal fork out of the center of the mound of potato salad. The salad looked warm.
It was too hot to talk. We sat in our deck chairs with our bare legs spread, hair plastered against our heads.
I was five minutes into squeaking my wet palm over my forehead, eyes closed like it would be cooler if I couldn't see, when the heat suddenly broke. Before I could get my hand down, rain was skidding paper plates and napkins across the deck, blowing over the green-and-white striped umbrella above the table where the food was.
Steffy stood dripping by the open sliding doors, mouth gleefully open, L.L. Bean t-shirt nippled against her torso, holding Billy's bent head against her skirt, bugging her eyes at me.
The rain was so cold it was almost too cold.
It was the loudest thunderstorm I ever experienced. Safe inside the house, huddled around the kitchen table, steam from the teapot rising, we had to repeat what we said each time a clap slammed down against the shingles.
At the time, back there at the beginning, it seemed like the best thing that had ever happened to western Maine.
To share your rewrite of Stephen King with the rest of us, click on the button below and e-mail the text to me. I'll post it on this page within a week.
rewrite best selling authors
every woman a koontz
This time we're using Dean Koontz for our base text.
Koontz is the author of a shelf of novels, most of them bearing one-word titles: Midnight, Shattered, Icebound, Phantoms, Whispers, Strangers, Hideaway, etc. Put all the titles together, and you could probably come up with a pretty scary poem.
The excerpt below is from Koontz' novel Intensity. Chyna, twenty-six, is staying over at a friend's house. She sits in the guest room looking out the window at the stars, not able to fall asleep just yet in a strange house, when she hears screams she at first thinks are her girlfriend's parents arguing. She soon realizes a killer has gotten into the house. She first sees the killer in the scene reprinted below.
As with EVERY MAN A KING, I am soliciting your rewrite of Koontz' text. If you e-mail it to me, I'll post it here, for everyone around the world to enjoy. The point to this exercise is to show there are many different ways to write the same scene, and to give you the opportunity to use your creativity to come up with your own approach.
Ready to be Dean Koontz? Think about it a little, then click below. I've given my own edit to get you going. Good luck!
Intensity is published by Alfred A. Knopf, and is Copyright © 1995 by Dean R. Koontz. The excerpt below is used for review purposes only.
THE ORIGINAL TEXT
He was a big man. Six feet two, maybe even taller. Muscular. Narrow waist, enormous shoulders. His denim jacket stretched tautly across his broad back.
His hair was thick and brown, neatly barbered against the nape of his bull neck, but Chyna could not see his face. She hoped never to see it.
His seining fingers, stained with blood, looked crushingly strong. He would be able to choke the life out of her with a single-hand grip.
"Come to me," he murmured.
Even in a whisper, his rough voice had a timbre and a power that were magnetic.
"Come to me."
He seemed to be speaking not to a vision that only he could see but to Chyna, as if his senses were so acute that he had been able to detect her merely from the movement of the air that she had displaced when she'd stepped soundlessly through the doorway.
Then she saw the spider. It dangled from the ceiling on a gossamer filament a foot above the killer's reaching hands.
As if responding to the man's supplications, the spider spun out its thread, descending.
The killer stopped reaching, turned his hand palm-up. "Little one," he breathed.
Fat and black, the obedient spider reeled itself down into the big open palm.
The killer brought his hand to his mouth and tipped his head back slightly. He either crushed the spider and ate it-- or ate it alive.
He stood motionless, savoring.
He was big. Broad shoulders filling the hall, head just below the ceiling. Denim jacket stretched taut across his muscular chest.
He stood motionless halfway down the hall, face in shadows, light from the opened door behind him silhouetting his size, his thick brown hair.
His large hands hung below his hips, blood-stained fingers curling around the air, letting it go, curling around it again.
"Come to me," he murmured.
Even in a whisper, his rough voice had timbre and power.
Could he hear her heart, her breath, hiding five steps away in darkness?
Then she saw the spider, unreeling itself upside-down from the ceiling, eight legs pulling out more silk.
He turned his big hand palm-up. "To me."
The spider, still upside-down, lowered itself until the top of its head touched his palm. It let go of its thread, rolling over in his hand onto its tall black legs.
He brought it up to his mouth, rolling back his head. The back of his hand, humped, slowly flattened over his lips.
His Adam's apple bobbed up and down a dozen times.
When he finished swallowing he lowered his hand to his side, standing motionless again.
To share your rewrite of Dean Koontz with the rest of us, click on the button below and e-mail the text to me. I'll post it on this page within a week.
rewrite best selling authors
every child a barker
Clive Barker has authored a large number of novels, short story collections and plays, and in addition has directed several movies. His style is quite good.
This page is your opportunity to rewrite Clive Barker, letting the rest of us know how you would present his scene.
Your version should at least be somewhat faithful to the original text. For example, in my rewrite I reference the spinning head, the blanched fox, etc.
The excerpt we're using below is from The Damnation Game, an Ace/Putnam book published by G.P. Putnam's Sons. It's copyrighted © 1985 by Clive Barker, All Rights Reserved. The excerpt I've chosen is from Chapter 17 of Part Two, Asylum. This excerpt is used for review purposes only.
THE ORIGINAL TEXT
It was many months since Whitehead had gone to bed sober. He'd started to use vodka as a soporific when the night terrors began; at first just a glass or two to dull the edge of his fear, then gradually increasing the dosage as, with time, his body became immune to it. He took no pleasure in drunkenness. He loathed putting his spinning head down on the pillow and hearing his thoughts whine in his ears. But he feared the fear more.
Now, as he sat watching the lawn, a fox stepped across the threshold of the floodlights, blanched by the brilliant illumination, and stared at the house. Its stillness lent it perfection; its eyes, catching the light, gleamed in its pricked head. It waited a moment only. Suddenly it seemed to sense danger-- the dogs perhaps-- and it turned tail and was gone. Whitehead still watched the spot it had disappeared from long after it had loped away, hoping against hope that it would come back and share his solitude for a space. But it had other business in the night.
Whitehead no longer went to bed sober. At first it was just a glass of vodka, which he'd nurse sitting in his pajamas on the edge of the bed by the lamp, but over the months it took more and more of a bottle to get him numb enough for the night terrors. He hated having to get himself drunk each night, hated putting his spinning head down on the pillow. But it was better than the terrors.
He looked out over the lawn, still a glass or two away from double vision. A brown fox crossed into the floodlights, blanched by their brilliance. Stopped. Stared at the house, black eyes watchful. In its stillness Whitehead could see the grace and utility of its body. He let out a sigh. The fox turned tail, maybe sensing danger, maybe the dogs-- and vanished. Whitehead continued to stare at the faint darkness of the paw prints on the lighted lawn, hoping the fox would return. It didn't.
To share your rewrite of Clive Barker with the rest of us, click on the button below and e-mail the text to me. I'll post it on this page within a week.
share your earliest memory
Our youth is our mystery.
One of the most surprising realizations about aging is that you veer very little from what you were as a kid. Were you shy then? You are now, turning out the light before sliding your hip across the fresh sheets. Did you gleefully imitate the next door neighbor, holding both little hands against your head on the stage of the living room carpet, while seated adults guffawed? Your stingers, at the fax machine, are appreciated by all.
Weird things happen when youíre young. 90% of the weirdness you experience happens pre-pubescent. Back then you flew in the sky, not Superman-style but in a seated position, remember? Back then you were sometimes invisible, and even your father, opening up a tall step ladder against the shingles, head rolled back, wondering if he bought enough paint, couldnít see you. Remember?
The older we get, surprisingly, the more we remember of our early days. One morning in my early forties I woke up and suddenly remembered, vividly, being on a wooden stage in my kindergarten class with a bunch of other boys and girls, around Christmas, each of us taking turns pinning a cutout to an easel on which a piece of maroon construction paper had been maneuvered underneath, working the T-shaped pump of an old-fashioned insecticide-type spray gun to get the air fattened inside, then slipping a short finger around the big iron trigger, aiming it at the easel, girlishly squinting both eyes, and misting glittery gold paint out the nozzle, so that when the sticky template was peeled away by a nun, a halo'd cherub with boxy gifts and scalloped wings revealed.
If that diorama took thirty years to re-emerge, who knows what else is in my mind, waiting for the right morning?
Sometimes, now, seated, eyes closed, the taste of alcohol and smoke in my mouth, I like to peer into my past, to see how far back into innocence and smallness my Hubbell will take me.
I actually have two earliest memories, in that one always- always- pops up before the other, earlier memory.
In the first memory, I am on my back on the linoleum floor of our kitchen at 133 Lake Avenue, Greenwich, Connecticut, my mother and father seated on spindly aluminum-legged kitchen chairs, me squealing and laughing on the floor as my camel-colored puppy (his name? Two syllables, but forever on the tip of my tongue) climbs atop me, snuffling and wagging his tail, black paws enjoyably heavy and pointy on my abdomen, sweet-smelling snout riding my shirt up to expose my skinny belly, himself a kid, taking at one point a nip in the excitement of inter-species friendship, me standing up afterwards, innocently showing my parents the small strawberry welt above my belly button, them deciding, despite my alarm at what was happening, despite my crying, my tiny fists hitting them, to take my dog away in the back of their station wagon, where he wagged his tail, if he did at all, for the last time. When my parents came home that night, no puppy frisking around and through their ankles, how tall and heavy they seemed then! Like unwanted statues that dented the ceiling and filled, with their feet, the kitchen floor I crawled across.
And now my earliest memory, chaotic: hoisted in my fatherís winter-coated arms, being carried outside from the warmth to the cold, from pleasure to pain, my motherís reddened face floating nearby above a colorful, pale silk scarf, to the station wagon, swinging my head around at the frozen shrubbery, the grey outside of the screened-in porch we had emerged from, everything swinging around me, still too new and me too young to distinguish shapes and substance from mood and memory, everything swinging around me, swinging, swinging dizzyingly and wonderfully around me.
Whoever you are, reading this, you have an earliest memory. Would you like to share it with me? Would you like to share it with the Internet community? Share it with the world and the future?
I want to know what your earliest memory is. E-mail me below, and Iíll post it unedited.
Share with us.
How do you catch a ball? Forget gods, forget skin color. What matters is left and right. Thomas Clayton's brain test determines the degree to which you're left-brained or right-brained based on 20 easy multiple-choice questions. After you take the test, you can click back and see what each of your answers meant. To participate, you need to download an .exe file. I've downloaded it, and haven't found any problems with viruses. Everybody loves taking tests at home. This is a perfect opportunity to find out about yourself.
All surfed out? Don't feel like doing anything? Take a break. Do nothing for as long as you want.
To assist you in doing nothing, here's a simple version of the classic Pong game. Your mouse operates the left paddle. Move the mouse up and down to move the paddle up and down. If you move the mouse forward as it hits the ball, the game will speed up. And yes, it is possible to beat the right paddle.