Inspiration & Snails (Update)

I’ve remembered why I love writing so much. This past month has been one of inspiration and productivity, my best of 2022. With my lowered medication, my brain is firing on many more cylinders. And what I accomplished below is evidence of that.

I’ve noticed—and you may have as well—that my recent writing updates have had a whiny, woe-is-me tone. While it’s fun to whine, that’s not what I want to put out there. Going forward, I hope to be more positive and less self-indulgent.

Slime is a Dish Best Served Cold

What started out as a writing exercise became my favorite story that I’ve written this year. Entitled “Slime is a Dish Best Served Cold,” it is the third story I’ve written about snails—enough to make me want to write a snail-based collection called The Book of Slime.

While I love snails, they can be terrifying. Just look at the one below. They are fascinating creatures and I’ve spent much of the past month researching them. With their thousands of teeth (the most of any animal), some varieties can drill through clam shells. I used this fact in the story to write a horrifying scene of lobotomy by snail. Still, I wouldn’t classify “Slime is a Dish” as horror. It’s more in the realm of bizarro fiction.

Giant African Snail (via YouTube)

I wrote this story with zeal. It’s been a while since I’ve been this “in the zone.” At over a thousand words a day, it took three days to write, reaching 3900 words. The last time I felt like this was when I wrote my now-published story “The Uytoroi.” I’m taking it as a sign.

I took a different approach with this story. Usually, I take notes, write out several outlining paragraphs, and only when I’m sure of the direction, do I begin. I wrote “Slime is a Dish” with no plotting whatsoever. This freedom allowed the story to naturally evolve—a process I plan to repeat in the future.

As you can tell, I’m ecstatic about this story. After a few rounds of edits, I hope to find it a home—though the lack of a defined genre might hamper this.

My Novelette

Whatever happened to the novelette I was so excited about last month? Well, in the end, “The Clairalient” was short of the 7500 words to consider it a novelette. While I liked my characters, the plot was all over the place. I plan to go back and see what I can salvage.

I used the Snowflake Method on it—one of the most elaborate forms of outlining. Ultimately, I was too focused on connecting the dots of the outline when I should have let the story follow its natural course. More proof that I should start pantsing (as opposed to plotting) my stories.

Still, I find it ironic that a plotted story was more of a mess than an unplotted one.


My editor got back to me with some great developmental edits for Generica. The bones are strong, he told me, but the characters needed work. I’ve struggled with this since I started the project. Normally, I spend ample time developing them, but in Generica, the characters are intentionally flat. I need to achieve the balance between keeping them flat and making them interesting to the reader. His advice on the matter was golden.

There is a LOT of work ahead. In addition to the characters, he thought that I needed to add more “interludes.” These are the scenes where I—Zé Burns—am the main character. To my great relief, he had few qualms with the prose and even described the novella as a “Calvino-esque metafiction.” Considering Italo Calvino is my favorite author, you can see how my heart trilled.

Longer Projects

Other than editing Generica, I’m sticking to writing shorter fiction these days as a sort of warm up for taking on larger projects. Right now, I have three novella ideas swimming in my head. Once I feel comfortable enough with the short form, I hope to write them in quick succession. All three are horror and one of them—you guessed it—is about snails.

It feels good to be myself again, to get words on the page. I hope you enjoy the pictures of these magnificent gastropods.

The majestic moon snail (via Wikimedia Commons)
Via Wikimedia Commons
A beautiful brown-lipped snail (via Wikimedia Commons)


One thought on “Inspiration & Snails (Update)

  1. Pingback: From Plotter to Pantser (Writing Update) | Zé Burns | Blog

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