A few months ago, I took a class called Fiction Workshop that required us to write a short story. Short stories have never really been my thing. I prefer to have a tale slowly unfold, allowing the reader to get to know and love the characters, and building the tension until the story explodes.
I’d did one short story as a prequel for my Vision series. Titled Vision of Secrets, it was meant to be a quick introduction to Bristol Blackburn, before she moves up to Spirit and meets Payne McKnight. It gave me a chance to expand on a throwaway line from Vision of Shadows, and feature Bristol dealing with a ghost who couldn’t move on because he was struggling to remember the lyrics to Copacabana from Barry Manilow.
Years later, I was invited to do a short story based on the idea of firsts, within the New Adult category for an anthology. I decided to feature a young man’s first night as a vampire. Of course, he was the world's best vampire. It was fun and goofy. The anthology never happened, and eventually, I donated the story to a different, limited edition anthology called Somewhere Out There in support of migrant children being held at the border. The anthology did well and was even nestled between Stephen King and Nora Roberts for a bit. However, it was only available for a limited time.
In the class, we assigned to read a story from a site called East of the Web, and I thought, hey, why not. I submitted This Bites! to them. I was thrilled when they decided to publish it.
Back to my Fiction Workshop. While the other stories were fairly long for ‘short’ stories, this one needed to be bare bones. I was only allowed 9 pages. How much of a story could I tell? Of course, lots of authors tell amazing stories in far less, but I never had before. I was in the mood to stretch too. Instead of my protagonists who were hiding their self-loathing behind a wall of sarcasm, I decided to let a bad guy take center stage. A story from the point of view of a serial killer.
And so The Rulesof the Game was born. It felt bold, fun, and a little rude. Plus, it had a nice little twist. I fell in love with the story, and it was a good exercise to write within limits.
I hope you take a moment to check out these stories, all are available somewhere for free.