Grab a cup of tea or coffee (oh what the heck, get a danish too!) and sit a spell. You might want to grab your notebook and pen because you never know when you will be inspired to write down a quote, or jot down a poem of your own. Words are like that, they take you on a journey and the next thing you know you are breathing life into your own magical world of words.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Art of Writing a Fantasy Short Story

"A good short story is almost always about a moment of profound realization. Or a hint of that. A quiet bomb. There is a record by the American singer, Tori Amos, called Little Earthquakes. That¹s a good metaphor for a short story."  Joseph O'Connor

I have stated that I don't like rules, this is true. I do try to listen to some of them, I do seek out rules to see if I agree with them, and I am always looking for ways to improve my writing. I guess the key is to understand when you are reading what others think are rules of the trade, take what works for you and throw away the rest. Pretty much how I see life. 

I decided to go in search of other "Rules" to writing short stories and fantasy fiction.

I discovered there is quite a bit of information out there and I decided to share a couple of the interesting pieces.

How to Write a Fantasy Short Story  by Frank P. Ryan - I particularly like his idea of starting a Fantasy Dictionary of unusual words such as spectral and numinous. If you decide to check it out, the bullet points start on page five.

Art of the Short Story By William Starr Moake - I love his take on writing short stories and my favorite quote was his last line, 
“The art of the short story is really the art of getting in touch with bits of your inner self and learning how to share that experience with readers."
I believe a powerful short story is one that grabs your attention in the beginning, the mystery pulls you along, and then has a punch at the end. Mix in the magic and it spells a short story I really want to read.

I did have a question come up this week - What classifies as Teen-specific fantasy?

Think of it as PG/PG13 and toss in some of the teen issues mixed with magic. Think about the angst and insecurities of teens and how much they do or don't want to fit in, how there is always someone picking on someone, and how the situations get resolved. The conflict can be something happening at home, at school or summer school (or any variation of the magical kind) or anywhere else you can imagine something magical happening with young people from 13 to 16 years old. (can go up to 18 yrs old) You can think of something you went through as a teen then put a magical twist. I am sure you can come up with lots of really great ideas. 

Whatever you do, don't allow someone else's rules to stop you from writing. If you feel like you need a little help so be it, but don't allow their rules to make it so complicated that you don't want to write. 

If you have been thinking about writing a short story for the contest that I am holding, please do. I, unlike some other contests, am not scary. I am one of you. I will encourage, support and help you achieve your dreams as I work to achieve mine. Don't worry about it being perfect, I focus more on creativity, imagination and magic. If I like the story, we can always work on the editing later on. Get creative, allow yourself to explore writing Teen Fantasy fiction, and you might surprise yourself. If you love to write, WRITE!


  1. I did a first draft novel for NaNoWriMo in November of 2010. Then started reading about writing, and editing, and everyone's rules. And saw all the "mistakes" in the novel. In 2011 did another novel, still a first draft but I think it was better. Mostly because it was a second novel - I made a conscious effort to try to ignore most of those rules - they can wait until I'm editing, and can choose which ones I want to follow - as guidelines only.

    1. Have you had anyone look at your first novel; often we are much too critical of our own work. Every time I think I need to read about the editing rules I end up quitting. I end up depressed because I don't think I can get it right. Well I am tired of doing that to myself.

      I am looking at writing very differently now. I am getting it all down then having someone else look at it for me. Right now that someone else is my grown daughter. She is an excellent editor though not professionally.

      Make sure that who you show it to isn't someone that is going to put a bunch of rules on you from their own frustrations; that they will look at it with compassion and help you with it not suppress you further.

      It is good that you are able to now look at the rules as guidelines only. I am sure many great works were never written or published because of "rules".

      Let me know if I can encourage and support you in your writing. I believe writers must stick together and help each other where they can.



Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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