Richard Houchin

Creative Writing:
Stories, Worlds, and Projects

I've created from the ground up two universes in which most of my creative writing takes place. There is the world of Timeless, a steampunk action-adventure realm, and then there is the world of Transcendence, a gritty blending of sci-fi and character driven explorations of morality.

Timeless evolved out of an early attempt at building a world of high fantasy. When I realized my efforts were tending towards the cliched and derivative, I scrapped the whole universe and built Timeless from the salvage. I kicked off the new world by releasing an episode a week for 6 weeks. The results were pleasing, but too time consuming. I ceased the episodic release of Timeless stories to work on longer shorts. I enjoyed the challenge of working to release episodic content, and look forward to doing it again.

Transcendence sprang fully formed from a request by a peer, Roy Steves, for a story treatment. The world of Transcendence is about questions of morality and how people answer them. I try to invest each character of Transcendence with as much engaging realism as possible. I've structured the overall plot and history of the universe to facilitate a modular approach to storytelling, allowing me to experiment with characters, devices, and concepts while preserving an integrity of theme and worldscape. It's fun.

Starting in late 2006 I began submitting my work to the Writers of the Future contest. My first submission returned a form reject letter, but it had a handwritten "write more soon!" scrawled on it. Glee.

Below is a chronology of submissions:

  • First submission: Cost of Living served as my honors thesis in the creative writing program at CSU, Chico. Rejected. Universe: Transcendence. How long did it take? Almost 18 months.
  • Second submission: Dreams was written mostly while in Hawaii. It's a surreal story. I experimented with several weird storytelling devices such as interweaving flashbacks, dream sequences, and stream of consciousness. As a result, Dreams is challenging to read and was hard to write. Rejected (no surprise). Universe: Transcendence. How long did it take? A little over 1 year.
  • Third submission: Life is Funny. After submitting Dreams I bought eight of the Writers of the Future anthologies so that I could learn what stories win. Life is Funny was written "to spec" and is much simpler and easier than either Dreams or Cost of Living. My rejection slip for this story arrived mid-December, 2007. Universe: Timeless. How long did it take? 3 months exactly.
  • Fourth submission: The Beautiful Batteries of Alander Mekanikson: An Immoral Tale earned a rejection slip in December, 2008. It is darker than Life is Funny, and is structured as a Revenge Plot. Universe: Transcendence. How long did it take? A little over 6 days to write the first complete draft. Since then, the manuscript has undergone one major revision.

    The opening scene and first few pages have been revised so often I became sick of the whole thing. The ending has remained largely unchanged--the best few pages of the story are easily the last few. Practically speaking, it ought to be the first few pages that are the best. I refined the opening scene to an acceptable state and got rid of this story by July 1, 2008. It's a horrible story, and I eagerly awaited its rejection slip. For my next work, I think I'll write something funny. Ha ha.
  • Fifth submission: The Artist is a tale of horror and insanity that may be well suited for Weird Tales. This is my first stab at a Lovecraftian tale, and I think I've drawn blood. It took 3 weeks to write, and then I sat on it for a couple of months so I could ring in the new year with a terrifying submission. I anticipate a rejection slip by mid-March, 2010.
  • Sixth submission: Starlight is a sci-fi story set in the Exemplar universe, a world building project started by Roy Steves. It features thespians, pirates, and a cruise ship, and it is all topped off with anti-matter explosions! This is still a work in progress, but I expect to have it in to the Writers of the Future by early 2010.

My goal is to be published by the Writers of the Future or Weird Tales by mid-2010.