Shortly before the start of the holidays I got a message from Edward Willett, a fantasy author, indie publisher, and podcast host. Back in May I was on his show, “The Worldshapers,” to talk about how I go about writing novels. I had a great time talking with him (the episode can be found the Media page) and he mentioned afterwards that I might be invited to contribute to his annual anthology called “Shapers of Worlds.” These anthologies have been run via Kickstarter, and so far four of them have been successfully funded. In Ed’s message, he invited me to participate in Volume V of “Shapers of Worlds.” No, surprise, but I very quickly said yes!
I haven’t written a short story in a long time. It’s been about five years since I started writing novels, and before that my (creative) writing hiatus was nearly 15 years. After accepting the invitation from Ed, I went back to my portfolio of short storied I wrote in high school and early college to see how they had aged. Ouch! Not very well overall, which I suppose is to be expected. I was a different person back then and my writing skills were not as developed as they are now. That being said, I did enjoy reading them because despite the poor pacing, awkward dialog, and clunky prose, I thought the core ideas were still interesting.
So while the deadline for submitting my story to the anthology is many months away, I’m at a cross-roads trying to decide if I want to revise one of my old, previously rejected (and never published) short stories, or to try and write something from scratch. I have one new idea that I like quite a bit that’s been simmering in the back of my mind for a while now, so I’m tempted to work on that one. However when sharing that idea with someone, they astutely pointed out that the idea is an internal conflict and more of a character study, so it might not satisfy a reader looking for an exciting short story. They asked about revising a story I wrote a long time ago. They didn’t remember much of the actual story, but instead the core idea behind it.
That conversation made me think about the books I’ve recently read and why I did or did not enjoy them. And I realized that the stories I liked had an interesting idea to explore. Very often I disliked the protagonist, or the writing style, or the plot arc, but there was something about the technology used or the magic system (I read mostly sci-fi and fantasy novels) that excited my imagination. I liked taking these ideas and then asking, “What if…”
Regardless of which direction I go in for the anthology, I hope a reader finds an idea in my short story that sticks with them after they are done reading it.
Thanks for stopping by.