For those who follow me on Twitter, you may already know about a project I’ve been working on with Cloaked Press. If not, I’m about to tell you, but bear with me a moment first.
Considering not too many years ago, I thought writing short stories was impossible, I have amazed no-one more than myself with what I have had published in the last three years. I had a debate the other day about how many works I had published, I was sure I had been in around 13 anthologies….nope, turns out I was a few books short. (Check the published works page to see exactly what’s where, and, ahem, how to obtain them.)
Anyway, my point is, I thought I couldn’t write a contained piece in under 5000 words. Granted, nine times out of ten I go wayyyyy over the word limit before some drastic editing and rewrites, but the fact is I can. And I even manage the odd short on here in considerably less than 5000. There’s something freeing at times about not knowing everything, not knowing the full backstory, where they came from, where they are going. It lets me do some ridiculous things and put characters in insane positions but it’s fine because I can leave them there and not worry about it. Possibly a little cruel of me. But when people say, oooh I wonder where this is going, will they do x or y, my gleeful reply is a shrug, I dunno.
Long story short, too late, (oh the irony) I have come round to the short story format, having written works from 100-10,000 words. Now having said I like to leave my characters in limbo, every now and then, some of them grab hold of a ledge, climb out and go ‘Oi, I’m not done yet.’ Like the mage who can create holes in space. She was a one-off character in Fall Into Fantasy 2019. And then her friends argued that they weren’t done yet. So fast forward two years and the follow ups are in Fall Into Fantasy 2020 and 2021 respectively and I seem to be en route to writing a prequel for a certain flame wielding character, let’s just call him Helios.
So I like short stories, but I just can’t help building them into something bigger. Just like Little Miss Victor, I know Carlos and Nyradzi, the space grifters who like to pick on the bad guys, are just waiting to pounce on me again. And yes, there’s a certain detective who works for Lucifer who is begging for a longer outing.
Fast forward to the end of last year and a very intersting proposition falls into my lap. A series of 500 word stories to go out in the Cloaked Press newsletter. 500 words, is not very long, trust me. And to be a series, a continous story that manages to hit the beats at just the right times to break off for the next episode. You can’t just break off mid-conversation. It takes a fair amount of work to make it interesting and punchy but not too fast. I can’t help but think of Batman the series with Adam West, short snappy episodes, always breaking at that suspense filled moment. But of course, you can fit a lot more action into 20 minutes acting than you can 500 words.
So is it possible? Well, I can’t really be the judge of that. You’ll just have to sign up to the newsletter and tell me. Two episodes a month following the exploits of Rowan and Kaekillian as Rowan gets to grips with the idea that she was right all along and our world is not the only one. Not only does Avalon exist but she now has to help Kaekillian round up the fugitives that are hiding among us; oh and they wield immense magical powers.
Writing these episodes has been a lot of fun, and to get over the difficulties of being snappy, I find it much easier to approach them in batches of three. As one follows the next, it helps my flow. And before you ask, yes. Yes I do have ideas that will keep me going for this year, next year and well, as long as they’ll have me. Oh wow, if you knew the massive twist that’s coming… you’re going to have to wait a little while but I promise it will be worth it. See, even these characters have taken up permanent residence in my brain. They all just want more!! Sometimes, it’s hard to remember where I end and they begin!
Anyway, if you like the sound of 500 words of fantasy in your inbox twice a month, head over to Cloaked Press and sign up to the newsletter. You’ll find out about new releases, anthology submissions and of course what of Earth is going on in Avalon… And as a bonus, when you sign up, the next episode will come with a special link to catch up on the previous episodes. Catch episode 11 at the end of the month!!