Tag Archives: short story

Writing Lessons from Short Stories

Anyone who has met me or frequented this site has probably guessed that brevity is not my greatest strength. I have a habit of over-thinking things, which means I like to dig down deep into ideas and places and people, clawing beyond the foundations into the bitter, dark, twisted, glowing dirt in the underbelly of their existence…

I forget where I was going with this.

So, I prefer writing novels, where I can dig down deep. Not many of my short pieces survive. That said, being forced to write something outside of my comfort zone always improves my writing, and I suspect you could use it to improve yours too.

Try to Cut Everything

You Are Just A Guest used to weigh in at 8,000 words. A critical eye reduced that down to 5,000 by cutting redundant scenes and extraneous description that slowed down the narrative. Now I couldn’t tell you what I cut because I can’t remember it; it wasn’t pulling it’s weight.

But every character, scene, even sentence needs to have a good reason two good reasons three good reasons for being there. If it can’t, then it’s got to go.

Giving Clues to the Reader

You’ve not got a lot of room for deep and exhaustive characterisation, description or backstory. But skipping that will leave you with two faceless dialogue puppets in a white room; who cares about that? But you can do a lot with a little.

For instance, the narrator for The Homeless Hero had a falling out with her mother over something that happened in their past. Most readers probably know all about it except I never once explained it. I used a few lines scattered throughout the story and let the reader put it together. They fill in all the blanks, giving me room in my word count for the story.

It’s a Great Place to Experiment

Before writing The Homeless Hero I had never written from a female perspective before. The notion scared me a little bit. I was worried I’d end up writing a man in a woman’s body or, perhaps worse, a stereotype or a cliche; something nobody would believe in.

But a short story is a much smaller environment and so it’s ideally suited to experimentation. Trying my hand at a female perspective boosted my confidence and helped me explore places and thoughts I can use again in the future.

You can get my short stories from Amazon now, as well as all other major ebook stores.

What have you learnt from short stories?

Free Stories for January

January’s a time for tightening belts. Literally and figuratively. While we’re trying to work off the Christmas pounds, we’re also staring at our bank balances and our credit card bills in disbelief. Time to start cutting back on a few luxuries. Like books. (Although I think books are necessities, I’m aware that some people don’t see it that way.)

January is a good time for freebies.

So anyone who subscribes to my newsletter gets two short stories for free. The first is You Are Just A Guest, a suburban horror told via social media about a young couple in a house that’s home to something else. The second is The Homeless Hero, a superhero tragedy about a man trying to help everyone but himself.

They’re available in MOBI, EPUB and PDF format so you can read them on a Kindle, iPad, Kobo, Nook or even your computer. There’s no DRM either so you can share them with your friends and family if you want.

And if you enjoy them, please review them on Amazon. Posting reviews is a great help to authors!

So let me treat you to a freebie and subscribe today!





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A Free Story For Halloween

You Are Just A Guest was my first short story, about a newly married couple who move into a house that is more than they expect. It came from my own fear of ghosts, the spooky noises that houses make at night, and the idea that houses themselves might be more than we’ve given them credit for. It’s a story I’m very proud of and I’ve received some great feedback on it.

But I was never happy with the cover. So I went back to it, gave it a new cover that reflects the story better and, hopefully, gives a better feeling of the sort of story it is. I’m a lot happier with this cover and so, to celebrate, I want to give it away.

To that end I’ll be sending a code to all subscribers on 31st October, Halloween. The code will let you download You Are Just A Guest for absolutely free. Just click here or use the form in the sidebar. And, of course, all new subscribers get a code to download The Homeless Hero for free too!

I’ll be sending out the code on the 31st so sign up now to make sure you get it!

The Homeless Hero: A New Short Story

It’s safe to say the batteries are recharged after the Zeldathon so it’s time for the announcement I was putting off: it’s new short story time!

It’s called The Homeless Hero and it tells the story of a young journalist who becomes involved with the world’s only superhero, Pinnacle. Pinnacle wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and help others. But he gives too much and it’s killing him. She needs to encourage him to be a little selfish before it’s too late.

Last time I was writing about how houses can be scarier than any of the demons and ghosts we can conjure to put in them. This time I’m writing about what it means to be a hero. What does it mean to devote ourselves to helping others? Superman has a life, a job, a wife (depending on DC’s mood that morning). He eats and sleeps like the rest of us. But there’s seven billion people in the world and someone always needs help. How does a superhero draw a line in the sand and say “this is my time; you’re on your own”?

These are the things I think about when I see Clark Kent doing, well, anything.

A copy of The Homeless Hero cost you only $0.99 from Amazon, Apple, Nook and Smashwords. But if you sign up to my newsletter, you can get a copy for absolutely free!




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A Short Story For Halloween

I’m very pleased to announce that my horror short story You Are Just A Guest is now available to purchase from most major eretailers just in time for Halloween!

This short story has its beginnings in my English Literature degree. I wasn’t not one of those students who started their work weeks beforehand. I was one of those students who started it the night before the deadline. So I pulled a lot of all-nighters, hammering away at a keyboard and trying to ignore all the weird noises that houses make in the middle of the night.

I wrote the first draft of this story for my course and so spent a couple of nights writing about houses making weird noises while my house made weird noises. I think I was in a state of self-fulfilling terror by the time I handed it in.

Since then I’ve tweaked it and cut it down and turned it into a leaner, hopefully spookier story. (In fact, the best comment I’ve received so far is from my brother, who said he was too scared to look at his mirror any more!) So please download a copy now and let me know what you think!

I hope you enjoy it.