Tag: short stories



Would you like to know how the inside of a writer’s head works? A good way to show you is to cut open my 480-word short story, AND YET, IT MOVES.

I’m posting as part of a blog-chain hop (a small link, I am) of how authors think and work. Passed on by wonderful performance poet, Zenobia Frost to my lovely friend, author, Michael Gerard Bauer and then on to me. (Yes, I am breaking the rules of procedure a bit here by not answering the set questions!)

Where do the ideas for my short stories come from? It still surprises me, even after 15 weeks in my 52-Week Flash Fiction Challenge, but I’ve learned to trust in the creative process that it will happen. And week in, week out, it does. Here’s how AND YET, IT MOVES came to be.

The stimulus word/s that week were CELESTIAL BODY. I usually start with a visual mind-map, scribbling down many thoughts about the topic, but this time I didn’t have to. For me, Celestial body = astronomy = Galileo, the father of modern astronomy, and my life-long hero. I knew lots about his life so didn’t have to research too much. But a short story couldn’t look at his whole life. It had to focus on one small incident – significant enough, or interesting enough to make the story sing. This is where being a keen observer of human behaviour helps.

Conflict is part of every story, especially for the main character. And so it was for AND YET, IT MOVES. I knew the history, I knew what happened when Galileo made a telescope and became the first human to see the pockmarked face of the moon – to work out that no, the sun and the moon didn’t circle our Earth. Therefore, Earth and its ‘made in the image of God’ humans were not the centre of God’s Universe. Galileo couldn’t help himself – he was a man who had to share his beliefs, widely. The Vatican’s black-robed priests of the Inquisition placed him under house-arrest. Would he recant his heresy or die? Justus_Sustermans_-_Portrait_of_Galileo_Galilei,_1636

Flash Fiction has no room for a cast of characters. There’s Galileo, of course, but who else. That’s when the magic happened … into my head popped the image of a young boy bringing a meal to this dangerous, white-haired prisoner … and my story was born. Young Guido had been warned not to listen to him, not to talk to him. So what sort of boy is Guido? And what impact will he have on the life of Galileo. I scribbled a quick outline, and let it bubble away in my imagination for a couple of days.

They’re all essential things to get right – without using too many words. It’s set in Firenze, in the 16th Century, at night. I had to use enough sensory images to set the scene, but keep the story flowing.

Teaching young people how to write short stories

Flash Fiction needs to end with a twist – ending with a POW! An ah-ha moment. I knew as I wrote the first draft where this story would lead … it wasn’t really a conscious decision, more instinctive story-telling. A gut-feeling of wanting to right a wrong. To see human intelligence and valour work for this great man and young Guido.

Perfect titles are essential in Flash Fiction. They must say everything, without giving too much away. ‘And yet, it moves‘ are the words that Galileo is rumoured to have muttered when he recanted his teachings in front of the Inquisition and the Pope – he was not put to death, but remained under house arrest the rest of his life, continuing his studies and exploring the heavens. He discovered the moons of Jupiter and many more truths we know today.

 The thought of this brilliant man holding his beliefs against ignorance, cruelty and superstition will stay with me forever.

I hope you enjoy reading my story….  AND YET, IT MOVES.


Check out these two blogs next week for two more shiny chain links



Crazy about story-making

I’m a STORY-MAKING ADDICT, a bona fide member of the SMnsA – STORY-MAKERS, not so ANONYMOUS. For this global community of creators, there is no cure. If you are inflicted, your only way to scratch the itch is to make stories … novels, short stories, even plays. It’s not harmful. It gives pleasure (in large amounts) and to others. It drives you nuts sometimes. It can also kick you when you’re down. Hey, just ask my writerly friends … they all agree.

Ideas for stories are everywhere … just keep your eyes and mind open and trust your imagination, they will surface.flash fiction is addictive

I’ve embarked on a writing discipline quest (besides the novels I have on the go) – it’s a challenge to write 52 short/short stories using a set topic word for inspiration. My own 52-Week Flash Fiction Challenge is up to Week 9. A couple of times as a Friday approaches, I fear I can’t do it, but out pops an idea and a story. 

Flash Fiction is a great genre to try out at any level of writing confidence and experience. I’ve been a practicing author for fourteen years. I’ve learned that you must trust what is in your head and your heart. It doesn’t matter if that first draft is woeful, it’s what you do with that germinating narrative that matters. It’s where the magic happens.

Flash Fiction can be a few sentences to 500 words … in my challenge, it’s 500. That’s an achievable length and long enough to give you a story with guts. You generally write more than 500 and then whittle back until you have left the perfect words. Flash Fiction and poetry have a lot in common.

Why don’t you try it out? If you’d like to join a small, online writing community on Facebook doing just this, get on to the page I set up –  it’s a smaller version of my own Flash Fiction Challenge blog. All you need to do is click to join. The 38-Week Flash Fiction Challenge.

52 week flash fiction imageHere’re some of the topic WORDS in the Flash Fiction Challenges. Could you make a 500 story using one of them? Try it out.  frog / cabbage / atone / autumn / fish / keepsake / mushroom / blue / mushroom / blue / plucky / celestial body / abstract / proof …… etc


Author, Matt Moore has some great tips on how to use this genre successfully. It’s not as easy as you think, but the results are worth it.

Remember, you’re writing a story. It has a beginning, middle and end. And like all stories, it must have character, settings, plot, conflict. Finally, something must change during the story—a character discovers something about him/herself; a simple event has far-reaching consequences.

For more of Matt’s excellent advice, go to his blog page. HOW TO WRITE FLASH FICTION.



That mosquito in the room

There’s a quote from the ubiquitous Anon … If you think something small cannot make a difference, try going to sleep with a mosquito in the room. That’s how I feel about the process of writing small stories – just in a more positive way than that single mozzie! Small, but with impact.

Short children’s stories are not easy to write (what story is?) but they do have a load of benefits…

  • providing much needed respite from the long, large, difficult Young Adult manuscript hanging over my head – it helps to keep me sane
  • can be written in a short time (i.e. in comparison to above YA ms)
  • you can nut out the plot fairly quickly … straight through without sub-plots, sub-character developments, scene descriptions and settings. Not that you don’t need an appealing main character, a large problem he/she has to solve, and someone or something standing in the way!
  • the words fly off the end of your fingers as they type the ‘video’ playing in your brain
  • and it’s nice to have a smile on the dial while you work, instead of a frown of concentration.

Some tips I use:

  1. Have a strong picture of your character in your head.
  2. Know and feel what your character most desires.
  3. Know and feel the impact of what threatens your character and his/her desires.

Setting is important – done subtly as the plot unfolds. Characters are essential – even the sub-characters … do it through dialogue.

What to write about? This (for me) is the hardest thing – so sometimes I try a little trick to get the creative brain working. Pick out three words from the dictionary, where ever your finger falls. Use these words to come up with a viable story idea. Not all stories work, but every now and then the possibilities tumble from your head. And before you know it, a story is born.

That’s what happened with a small story I wrote called PRINCESS CLOWN (1200 words). It was a bigger challenge because I only allowed myself two random words, but it worked!

Probably the best thing about a small story is you can write and submit any number of submissions that can do the rounds at the same time – a pleasant experience for me – usually my stories are from 35,000 to 60,000 words and while I love the process, they take a loonnnggg time to write.

Do you have a special thing you do to make short stories?

Sharing of ideas is welcome in this neck of the woods!!!  🙂