Tag Archives: Short Story

Darth Vader's Backstory

How to Write the Perfect Backstory for Any Character

He was weak…

…because he had no history.

It took me seventeen rewrites (and one editor) before this dawned on me.

The reason my readers could not get immersed in my story – was because my main character had a weak backstory.

I could tell you everything about him…

  • The shape of his face
  • His most powerful values
  • How much money he had in his pocket

But without a backstory, this character was dragging down the entire story. Let me show you how to fix this problem:

Continue reading How to Write the Perfect Backstory for Any Character

A Professional Question of Murder – (Flash Fiction)

In this line of work there were few answers, and many questions.

One question, in particular, stuck out like a knife from a dead man’s chest: “Could you ever kill a friend?”

For years, Blay the Assassin thought about it, turning it over and over in the quiet hours of the long, cold nights. The unanswered question never diminished. Blay’s passion for the craft, however, did. He found himself a rich man, and even the luster of “professional power-shifting” had grown tiresome to him.

Blay the Assassin was done.

Or so he thought.

Continue reading A Professional Question of Murder – (Flash Fiction)

How Many Characters Should Your Story Have?

Quick: what is the most excitable organ in the body?

That’s right – it’s the imagination.

Sometimes, when you’re getting all hot and bothered creative, you get too eager (don’t worry, it happens to all of us).

You get this urge to create, and create, and create. Before you know it, you have a glut of characters:

  • 4 protagonists, with 4 distinct groups of companions
  • 6 love interests
  • 12 dwarves
  • And a guy named Frank because you couldn’t think of a better name, so you just used this as a place holder until a better name comes along…

Is that too many names? How many characters SHOULD your short story/novel/Harry Potter fan fiction have?

Continue reading How Many Characters Should Your Story Have?

Haunted House

Someone I’ve Never Met Before (Short Fiction: Under 200 Words)

My agent’s face was sweating, trying to sell that house to me, even as my breath turned to vapor in the cold. The seclusion, the fact that you couldn’t see anything beyond the trees that grew around it, that’s why I wanted it.

Old house, haunted house. My agent hired a truck for me, but made many excuses to leave as soon as she could. I was the only one there, yet I was not alone.

That first night I remember trying to get warm under sheets that never seemed thick enough, with my breath coalescing in the frigid air, hanging over me like a specter.

In the moment just before sleep buried me with unconscious, I felt the sheets lift, ever so gently, and her cold, ethereal form slip next to me.

I heard a voice, like ice sliding over ice, “I’ve missed you.”

I’ve written plenty of ‘weird’ fiction, but never anything that came close to horror. 

So? Did you feel anything? What, if anything in this short piece, made you think? Leave your thoughts below in the comments, and don’t forget to like and follow the blog.

Image courtesy of Martyn Smith via Flickr Creative Commons. 

Forlorn girl

How Can We Sing? (300 Word Fiction)

In such a strange land, they found themselves surrounded by nothing familiar. There was the sun, but it was wrong, and the mountains, those were wrong also.

Here, they could not hear The Song, and so they could not sing. Muhlirim knew they would die.

“But all must die, Muhlirim.”

“Yes, yes,” agreed the others, nodding in unison, with their bodies slumped on an unfamiliar hill under the wrong sun.

Muhlirim thought, bending his ear to one side, still half-listening for the song of familiar stars, though he knew he would not hear it. Not here, not so far away from home.

“All must die,” Muhlirim said, “But until we do, we must try to live. Do any of you want to die?”

“No, no,” again, in unison, the lost people spoke, their voices tired and empty and without a hint of music. Monotone.

“Muhlirim, how can we sing?” One of them asked, and nobody answered.

A wind howled over the unfamiliar hill, and they all shivered and their teeth chattered. Some animal that they could not see loosed a desperate cry, once, twice, and then no more.

A girl began to cry, and her father tried to comfort her, but her father, too, was overcome with grief, and he cried with her. One by one, Muhlirim’s people were overcome with grief, until the whole hill was filled with the discord of voices, mourning themselves.

“How can we sing, how can we sing,” Muhlirim asked himself, over and over, while his people withered under the wrong sun. He mumbled and muttered until all of his words became one, but not a true word, only a vibration.

A moan, in which he put all of his aching and yearning and determination, until it became something else. Until it became more than a cry. Until it was louder than the voices of all his people.

Until they all sang with him.

The End.

Thank you for reading. If you’re interested in more fiction, check out my latest short story, which you can download for free from Smashwords here, or read on my blog here.

Don’t forget to leave a like, follow the blog, and drop a comment on your way out! All criticism and thoughts are very appreciated. Don’t be shy! I want to know what you think. 

A Light in the Dark

The Outward Path (Short Story – 5000 Words)

Now available in all ebook formats, free of charge. Download here from Smashwords or purchase from Amazon (I’m still waiting on Amazon to discover that it’s free on Smashwords, so for the moment, it’s only free on Smashwords. I’ll update this when it’s changed).

Captain Sanesh lowered his head, clasped his hands together, and tried to remember the last time he’d seen any captain sit, cross-legged, on the cold, metal floor. His knees were a respectful distance from the bodybag. Martin had placed strips of fabric around the room, and each was painted with symbols that Sanesh had seen tattooed on Martin’s skin, and printed in Martin’s books. Tall, black sticks ringed the bodybag, like miniature obelisks, exhaling smoke toward the ceiling. A tingling sensation played under his skin.

Continue reading The Outward Path (Short Story – 5000 Words)

The Strange Painter (Under 500 Fiction)

I found her along the ruins of a wall, painting symbols and figures that made no sense to me. She was an ancient thing, with four legs supporting a hunched torso, and two lanky arms that nearly touched the grass when she bent them.

She dipped her slender, bony fingers into the pouches that hung around of her neck, and brought them out, dripping with paint.

“What are you doing?” I asked her.

Continue reading The Strange Painter (Under 500 Fiction)