Friday Fundamentals: Pull the Thread or Take the Shot?

Happy Friday, Magical Words folks!

Today I’m going to talk a little about short stories and how much to include in the tale.

There are several directions you can take a short story, but two of my favorites are what I call pulling a thread or taking a snapshot.

The first story type is “pulling a thread.” Here you can tell a larger story, but the focus has to be laser sharp. In this type of story, you’re following a particular character’s particular story. The important part to remember is that you should start and stop the story in the proper place. The story should start (as has probably been said here before) when the action starts to matter. It’s the moment where everyone would start listening and watching if they thought a fight was going to break out in that group just over there. Or when the wedding […]

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Quick Tip Tuesday: Coming up With Story Ideas

It happened again the other day. I was at a holiday party and someone I know — someone who knows I’m a writer — told me that he had an idea for a story, and that I should write it. This actually happens quite often, and I told him what I tell everyone else who makes such an offer: that I have plenty of ideas of my own, thank you very much.

And that’s the truth. Once upon a time, I worried about running out of ideas and not knowing what to write next. Now I worry about having enough time to write all the stories I’ve imagined.

But I know that early on in my career, I did have trouble at times figuring out what to write next, and I know as well that I still get lots of questions from aspiring writers about where I my inspiration comes […]

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D.B. Jackson: Drawing Inspiration From Short Fiction

Hello, MW! It is great to be back — I’ve missed being here. [Glances around] The place looks great — you’ve taken good care of it while I’ve been gone. And now that I’m here, I’m sticking around for a while — I’ll be posting for the next five weeks, kicking off the promotion for A Plunder of Souls, the third book in the Thieftaker Chronicles (which began with Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry). The book will be released on July 8, exactly one week from today.

So, let’s get to it . . .

You’ve heard me say it before: “Write short fiction about your characters. It will help you get a sense of their background and their voice, and it might even result in a sale.” Or, as in this case, it might lead to an entirely new novel.

A Plunder of Souls has its origins in a single […]

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Joshua Palmatier — Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens

This is the fourth and final post here on Magical Words related to the upcoming CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs. ALIENS anthology, being released by the new small press called Zombies Need Brains and edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier. This time we’re focusing exclusively on the anthology itself. That’s right, this is the promo post! All steampunk, all alien, all the time! *grin*

 

I’m happy to announce the back cover copy of the anthology, along with the table of contents. The anthology should be hitting the shelves in the next month or so, so add it to your wish list or preorder it at your favorite online bookstore! First off, the cover art and book description. We used the art “Steampunk Octopus” by Alex Broeckel for the cover (signed, limited edition prints available at the Zombies Need Brains online store), since it captured the concept of the […]

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Joshua Palmatier — from Kickstarter to Antho

And now it’s time for the third post here on Magical Words related to the upcoming release of the anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first release from the new small press Zombies Need Brains. In the first two posts, I focused on what I look for as an editor in terms of character and plot for the stories in the anthologies. For this post, I thought I’d focus on what the process was for putting this anthology (and I assume all future anthologies) together, from assembling the kickstarter to getting that final book together and available for public consumption.

First off, Patricia and I have to select the theme of the anthology. We actually have a small list of themes already sketched out, but for each one we weigh how strong the concept is and whether we think it will generate interest in the SF&F community. Once we […]

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Joshua Palmatier — What The EDITOR Is Looking For

Today is the second post here at Magical Words related to the upcoming SF&F anthology release CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first book from the new small press Zombies Need Brains. Again, as I’m the editor of this anthology (and founder of the small press), I’m doing a slightly different take on each of the posts for this series, focusing on what the EDITOR is looking for when reading stories for possible inclusion in anthologies. The first guest post was about character, since that’s the first requirement of a story if you want to catch my attention. If the character isn’t interesting, I’m not interested. After that comes plot, which is what I’m going to discuss today.

OK, so, here’s the thing. We’re doing THEMED anthologies, which means that there are a certain amount of set parameters that the story must meet in order to even be considered […]

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About Character, and a New Thieftaker Short Story

Today, I have a new short story out at Tor.com, under the D.B. Jackson pseudonym. The story is called “The Price of Doing Business.” It’s set in the Thieftaker world and it tells the story of Ethan Kaille’s first encounter with Sephira Pryce, who later becomes his rival and nemesis. The artwork is by the marvelous Chris McGrath, who also has done the jacket art for the Thieftaker books. [Update, 2/19/2014, 10:00 CST: The story is now live on the Tor.com site and can be found here. And here’s the updated artwork as well; I wasn’t sure which image they would use. I actually like this second one better.]

Last week we talked about plotting here at MW. This week, starting with Di’s post on Monday, and continuing with Chloe Neill’s post yesterday, we are talking about character. And so the release of this short story comes at a perfect […]

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