Daily Thoughts 192: Drive-By Stories Coding Updates

Author's selfieAfter errands this morning, I spend time working on Drive-By Stories to implement some of the basic functionality I wanted in the site. The plan all along has been to set up a structure that made it easy to add new stories to the site without having to do anything to get them working with the site. Basically, just upload and it would work. I also wanted the site to randomly load a story on the main page, as well as randomly populate the featured title list on the cover. And randomly change the adjective used on the site. And automatically populate the story index. Change the date.

I want the site interactive, yet simple to modify and maintain. Eventually, I want the cover image to change along with the story—once I’ve actually created cover images. I’ll have a default (other than the one I’m using now) image.

Much of that basic functionality is working now. Each time the site loads it randomly picks the titles, story, and adjective. The issue date should update. The story index populates itself, and yet each story still has a permalink.

Screencapture of Drive-By Stories
Screen capture Drive-By Stories 2017-07-09

Responsive and Accessible

The site needs additional work, particularly in the responsiveness and accessibility features. I’ll keep working on those. I’ve built the site with an eye to responsiveness and mobile use. It works somewhat but could be much better.

Next Steps

I have a number of things left to do with the site. I’ll likely keep tweaking it for quite a while. Coming up on my list:

  • Complete work on donation/support options.
  • Add social links.
  • Add Twitter cards.
  • Improve metadata for stories.
  • Create cover illustrations!
  • Address responsive/mobile issues.
  • Address accessibility issues.

And write more stories! I’ve dictated a couple more stories this past week. I’m adding ideas each day to my journal. I’ve found that using the Post-It notes to get the idea down and provide a reminder has helped me focus. My new Post-Its arrive yesterday and will give me much more room comfortably record my ideas.


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This blog post by Ryan M. Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Daily Thoughts 189: Sticky Ideas for Drive-By Stories

Author's selfieI want to write more stories. Particularly, I want to write stories while driving for Drive-By Stories. I’m out of practice. For the past couple years, I haven’t written much. My attention has been mostly on school. I’m off this summer, so I’m spending more time on some of my other projects. I’ve been dictating each morning on my commute. And I have managed to come up with a few stories, or partial stories. I haven’t gone through the transcribed drafts to write coherent drafts of the stories yet. I’m hoping that being more organized will help.

Sticky Ideas for Drive-By Stories

I posted the other day about relaunching some habit streaks. Dictating each day fulfills the writing requirement, but I’d like it to be more productive. Ideally, I want to get in the car, start the recorder (I only work hands-free), and dictate the story with a minimum of digression and useless chatter. I have nothing against useless chatter. I just want to make my commute more productive.

This morning was productive. Not because I wrote a story, but for developing an idea that I had yesterday. I’m going to start doing some sticky brainstorming.

4 Steps to Sticky Ideas

  1. Briefly, write a story concept each day in my journal (share on Instagram).
  2. Copy the story concept to a sticky note.
  3. Stick the note on the dash before leaving as a reminder of the story idea.
  4. Peel the note off the dash and stick it on the journal page after dictation is complete.

By adding new ideas each day (potentially more than one), eventually I’ll build up a backlog of story ideas. I only dictate for Drive-By Stories on days I go to the library.

Story idea 1: #drivebystories drivebystories.com

A post shared by Ryan M. Williams (@ryanwriter) on

In this example, I’ve used the elements Damon Knight described when writing about creating short stories. Character, Situation, Setting, and Emotion provide a way of thinking about the story. I’ve defined a particular character, a potential title, and a short summary.

Everything is subject to change.

It’s an idea. It gives me something to work with. I’ll see how it goes. I ordered some new Post-Its. Who doesn’t love new office supplies?


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This blog post by Ryan M. Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.