Tag Archives: stories

Year of Stories – Week 26

Week 26 of the Year of Stories signals the end of Quarter 2. I’ve now accomplished six months’ worth of one short story per week, and I think that’s pretty special. Capping off these six months is The Castle of the Grand King, starring new action adventure hero Meghan Maloney. Here’s a synopsis:

There is an ancient castle hidden in the heart of South America. Once it was the seat of a glorious empire, housing the throne of the Grand King. Now it is a forgotten ruin. At least one archaeologist thinks it’s still worth exploring, and he’s begun to unearth strange stories, local legends of a mystical machine that turned rocks to bread and water to wine… “Ancient silliness”, according to some. But when the expedition goes silent, Meghan Maloney sees an opportunity to get in on the action and maybe even land herself in the history books. She just hopes no one else has had the same idea.

Read it now.

And as a reminder, this will be the last story posted for a while, as I take a hiatus from the Year of Stories.

Podcast: Happy, um, Wednesday

Happy, er, Wednesday… Here’s episode 15 of my podcast, with my special cohost, Calvin William Sevenhuysen.

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Show Notes
0:01 Introduction and announcements. The Special People IndieGoGo campaign is a success! Thanks everyone! There are still targets to hit, too. :)

5:30 Year of Stories: The May YoS collection is now available for purchase. Discussions of The Valley, Memoirs of the Model Agent chapter 2, and The Interno.

10:26 Sign-off.

Questions

Got a question for me? Get your Q&A questions in by emailing tsevenhuysen@gmail.com or contacting me on TwitterFacebook, or Google+. If I answer your question, you’ll receive a $1 Store credit!

Flare Fiction: Volume 2

It’s here! My latest chapbook, Flare Fiction: Volume 2, is now available in the Store, for whatever price you wish to pay.

Here’s a little bit of information about the collection:

These stories are experiments, in a lot of ways. Can Imaginary Enemy get you to care about the plight of an imaginative young boy in less than a page and a half? Can A Brain Well-Watered encapsulate the creative process in only 315 words, and inspire you to go searching after your own fresh inspiration? Can A Long Story make you laugh the first time you read it, and sigh with pity the second? These are the kinds of challenges I set for myself as an author. You, as readers, are my audience, my targets, my judges, and often my inspirations.

As with my previous chapbooks, you can set your own price by adjusting the “quantity” of dollars and cents while you’re ordering.

Flare Fiction 2 is also available to grab from Amazon for 99¢.

If you read and enjoy the collection, please head over to Amazon and leave a review! Reviews really help other people find my work, so your thoughts and comments are very much appreciated.

Year of Stories Week 6

Welcome to week 6 of the Year of Stories!

Free this week is Darla, Dragon Hunter. It’s a 5,700-word sci-fi action story, now available to read for free or buy in the Store. Here’s the synopsis:

My “friends” think I’m a paralegal. I amuse myself sometimes by wondering what they would say if they found out that a couple of times a month I exchange my pantsuit for camo gear and a high-tech sniper rifle and hunt dragons. They’d probably think I was joking. Fine by me.

The highlighted Store release for this week is Escape Velocity, a 1,700-word sci-fi drama. Read it now for only $0.99! Here’s a teaser:

I thought stasis would be like sleeping. I thought I’d simply close my eyes on Earth and when I opened them I’d be a hundred light-years away, with no memory of the intervening time or the immense distance I had travelled. I thought stasis would be an escape, but I’ve spent the absent infinity of our voyage through space exploring the inside of my own head, reliving every one of those moments, those days, those joys, those sorrows.

To read previously released stories, check out the Year of Stories page.

Year of Stories Week 5

Welcome to week 5 of the Year of Stories!

Free this week is Memoirs of the Model Agent: How I Rescued Mr. Dimbles. This 2,100-word science fiction action comedy is now available to read for free or to buy in the Store. Here’s the synopsis:

You probably know me from the ad campaigns. I’ve been the face of the Chancellorate’s Security Forces for two or three years, now. “The Model Agent,” they call me. I’ve decided to share a few of the stories that haven’t been told about me before. I’m not calling anyone a liar; I’m not here to “set the records straight.” I just want to be represented on my own terms. I want to balance the scales a little, so you can see the bad with the good. Why don’t I start near the beginning?

The highlighted Store release for this week is Darla, Dragon-Hunter. It’s a 5,700-word sci-fi action story. Read it now for only $0.99! Here’s a teaser:

My “friends” think I’m a paralegal. I amuse myself sometimes by wondering what they would say if they found out that a couple of times a month I exchange my pantsuit for camo gear and a high-tech sniper rifle and hunt dragons. They’d probably think I was joking. Fine by me.

To read previously released stories, check out the Year of Stories page.

Learning How to Write Conflict

One of the main reasons I challenged myself to do the Year of Stories was to force myself to practice my writing. I’ve written 11 stories at this point and released 5 of them, with February’s batch of 4 more coming out soon.

Putting together a new short story every single week means that I have to explore lots of different plot types and methods of storytelling. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned so far, relating mostly to developing conflict.


1. Clarify the conflict.

Sometimes I’m tempted to write a story that’s based more on a concept than a conflict. In Burns Mar the Sun-Grasper’s Hands, for example, there isn’t actually much of a conflict: the events of the story take place without a whole lot of tension, and it doesn’t really feel like there’s something at stake.

As a speculative fiction writer, I love a good concept. I love to build a story around an idea, a “what if” scenario, like I did in Diana and the Animal and A Kingdom of White. If the concept is all the story has going for it, though, then it isn’t much of a story.

Conflict and tension keep the reader reading, so that’s something I’m trying to be more intentional about creating as I come up with the ideas for my future stories.

2. Tell the story during the story.

In Discovery Two, a significant portion of the conflict has been played out in the past, and doesn’t happen during the flow of the story. Building a conflict outside the events of the story doesn’t involve the reader in what’s happening, and it’s very important for the reader to feel involved, I think.

In the case of Discovery Two, the “outside-the-flow” conflict was playing out as the backdrop to an active, “inside-the-flow” sequence of events, so I think the story reads okay because of that, but if I was writing the story again I would try to find a way to build those past events more directly into the flow of the storytelling.

3. Make the characters proactive.

Don’t let the story happen to the character. Make them an active part of its evolution and resolution. Having passive characters who simply react to a story playing itself out in front of them is the storytelling equivalent of using the passive voice to build a sentence.

Not to pick too much on one story, but Burns Mar the Sun-Grasper’s Hands is an example of the main character being largely reactive rather than proactive. I don’t think the story is terrible, but I feel like the way I constructed it didn’t allow for the strongest storytelling.

4. Resolve the conflict.

If I do all of the other steps above, building a good conflict, playing out that conflict within the flow of the story, and making the characters proactive in exploring that conflict, it will all come to nothing if I don’t resolve the conflict.

Obviously there are exceptions to this rule. Short stories are an especially fertile ground for cliffhangers, partial resolutions, and other forms of alternative plotting. But in general, a reader wants to feel satisfied with their experience when they come to the end of the story. The main questions should be answered. At least part of the conflict should be resolved.

A Kingdom of White is an example of a story that I think does this well. The overall conflict may not get resolved, but the conflict that is actually played out within the story–the character’s internal conflict–does get resolved. The larger, external conflict is left as a sort of cliffhanger. (That external conflict is something I’d love to expand into novel length, if I get the opportunity.)


Obviously I’m not an expert at applying all of these rules to my writing, not yet. I have a long way to go this year, and I expect to learn a lot more. I’m sure I’ll still see some of these weaknesses creeping into my stories here and there, but I’m growing and improving as a writer, and I hope that comes across to you as a reader.

YoS Week 2 – Burns Mar the Sun-Grasper’s Hands

A new short story every Monday of 2012.Welcome to the Year of Stories, Week 2!

You can now read Diana and the Animal for free. If you enjoy it, please leave a comment, and consider buying it in the Store or tipping.

Week 3’s offering, Burns Mars the Sun-Grasper’s Hands, is a 1,700-word slipstream story, and is now available in the Store. Here’s the synopsis:

The gym where Mia works has plenty of regulars, but none as intriguing as “Louisa,” a mysterious elderly Cajun woman with physical strength that belies her age and appearance. When Louisa rushes out of the gym one day, accidentally leaving a leather glove behind, Mia is presented with an opportunity to delve into Louisa’s secrets.

To see previously released stories, check out the Year of Stories page.