Posted in writing

Finding Lost Inspiration

With the holidays and my bout of burn-out, I ended up taking a little more time away from Hero Stones than I’d anticipated. That meant a large portion of the inspiration I had for it had vanished. Although it was something I suspected would happen when I decided to take a break, I’d been half-hoping my muse wouldn’t wander off to places unknown.

Thankfully, finding inspiration again isn’t too hard, even if you have a dozen other things to do (hello holiday season, you’re looking busy this year). Even if you only have a few minutes, there’s a lot of ways to rekindle that lost spark.

Music is especially useful. Really think about the sort of music that would suit your story–be that a sweeping symphony to go with the massive, magical war you have planned, or a heartfelt love song your Main Character and Interest might have playing when they triumph over every obstacle. Maybe it’s a foreboding opera every time your villain walks into the room. If there’s lyrics to the song, think about which character those lyrics might apply too.

Art and Imagery is another way to get your creativity going again. If you’re not particularly artistic yourself, try creating a collage of images you feel fit your story (this can be done in basic programs like Paint). Of course, if you are on the artistic side, create an image from your story–this might be character references or even pictures of some of your settings.

Write some fluff or filler scenes to help you find the flow of the story again, as well as to help you create more realistic characters. These can be things like a day in the life of your Main Character, a cute moment between your favorite character couple, or even sibling squabbles. Keep in mind that these scenes don’t actually have to happen in the story either, their purpose is to help you get back into the flow of the story.

My biggest piece of advice however is to reread your favorite scenes. Sometimes the scenes you had the most fun writing are the ones that can kick start more ideas and more inspiration for you. A word of warning though, this might lead you to the temptation to edit what you have written already. Although that in itself isn’t inherently bad (especially if you’re trying to find the inspiration to edit), if you’re just trying to finish off a piece, too much editing can lead you into an endless cycle of fixing what you’ve already written without much progress going any farther.

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One-Word Prompt: Knight

Knight

This week’s one-word prompt is Knight! Please share with anyone you know! I’d love to see any responses you come up with.

Posted in Stories

Short Story: Anderson

“You never did say how you found out you could see Death.”

I paused, looking up at the detective talking to me. Murillo usually didn’t like talking too much about my job, and a large part of it I understood. Dead things were supposed to stay that way.

Necromancers had a bad habit of making dead things act like living things, however temporarily.

“Yes I did,” I said at last. “I had a goldfish.”

Murillo laughed and pulled a seat out at the little table in the police station’s cafeteria. “That doesn’t tell me anything,” he said. “Seriously, how did you find out you could see Death?”

I settled into a seat next to him and shrugged. “The same way most necromancers do,” I answered. “He showed up. I asked who he was, he told me he was Death. My mother told me we weren’t getting anymore goldfish after that.”

Murillo chuckled. “Come on, Clark. You’re holding back on a story.”

A sigh escaped, but I couldn’t help but smile. Most people didn’t like knowing about Death. I’d spent more than enough years ridiculed and outcast because I could see him. The few friends I had—living ones, that is—were people I tried to shield from Death and all that went with it.

“Alright,” I said at last. “So you know I had a goldfish when I was eight, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, her name was Tim because no one knew at the time she was a girl, so we put her in a tank with about four other goldfish, and everything was hunky dory until Tim gave birth to more goldfish babies.”

“So she got eaten by the babies?” Murillo asked and I looked at him. “I want to get to the good part!”

“Do you open a book and start reading from the middle?” I asked.

“No,” he admitted.

“Then you have to get some of the facts first,” I told him. “Tim went on to have babies four more times. And she probably would have had lots more babies, except that there was a small accident with a full can of coke being added to the fish tank.”

Murillo’s eyes widened. “What?”

“It was an accident. I set it on the side of the tank because I needed to feed them, only when I opened the lid to do so, the can fell in, and since it was still pretty full, it went mostly down to the bottom, leaking soda the entire way down.”

“And Tim was the only casualty?” Murillo pressed.

“No, Tim was the only survivor,” I replied.

What?

“The other fish didn’t do so well swimming in coke, and the tank got really green even after we changed the water. We’re fairly sure the Plecostomus we had literally ate himself to death trying to clean it all out. So we got a new tank and Tim moved into my room.”

“Did Death just get pissed off that this fish wasn’t dying or something?” the detective asked and I sighed.

“You’re the one who wanted to know, so let me tell the story. No, Death generally doesn’t care if you’re dead or alive, unless you’re doing something wrong.” The number of times I’d seen him show up to try and talk someone out of suicide was incredible.

“Fine. But I want to know already.”

“I’m getting there,” I promised. “Anyways Tim lived in my room for about a year and a half before she got sick. No idea what with, or how, but she did. She got sick and kind of stopped eating. The night she finally passed away though, I’d gotten some new comics books and was up until two in the morning reading them.

“So Death kind of just shows up in my room, and I mean I was eight at the time, so you know, first reaction is to panic and hide under the covers because you think it’s your parents coming in, which made him laugh, up until he realized I shouldn’t have even reacted to him.”

“Wait, you weren’t supposed to react?” Murillo looked horrified.

“Most people don’t see Death,” I pointed out. “There’s that hole ‘invisible except to the gifted’ thing going on. Well, evidently, my gift had kicked in, because I could see him and I could hear him laughing.

“So, Death had to explain to an eight-year-old that he was Death, he was there for my goldfish and that this was a special sort of gift before he took Tim’s soul and kind of just vanished. It took about an hour before she actually went belly-up. Mom was not impressed when I informed her that Tim was dead, and even less impressed when I asked her if anyone else in the family could see Death.”

Murillo cackled and shook his head. “Can anyone else in your family?”

“There’s a little debate on that. Grandmam’s gotten kind of funny in her old age,” I said. “And it’s not unusual for Death to start showing up when the mind starts failing.”

“And your mom told you no more goldfish?”

“Well, after the heater blew out in one tank, the addition of a can of coke, and my sister’s cat attempting to swim, she decided the fish weren’t well-suited to the family.”

“The cat tried to swim?” Murillo questioned.

“He had a little help, but yeah,” I answered.

“Okay, that sounds like another story. What happened?”

Before I could respond, my phone rang. I pulled it from my pocket and grinned. “Sorry, maybe next time.”

Murillo mockingly glowered at me as I answered, but only shook his head as I answered my phone.

“Clark Anderson, Necromancer.”


by A.J. Helms

Posted in writing

Plot: Dishonored Beloved

A dishonored beloved plot can bring a whole new layer of complexity and twists to the story when employed. If you’d like, you can check out all of the plot scenarios here.

  • A wrongdoing is discovered against a loved one.

The roles for the dishonored beloved plot are extremely variable. You must have someone who commits the wrongdoing, you must have the loved one and you must have someone who discovers that wrongdoing. However, there is nothing to say that you can’t pile these roles on top of one another. For instance, having the loved one discover that their spouse has been having an affair (classic adultery). Alternately, have the wrongdoer find out that the person they’ve committed a crime against is in fact someone they care about. There are numerous ways to twist this plot.

Because of it’s great flexibility, as a main plot it works well in both character and plot driven stories. How characters act and react each to each part of the wrongdoing, discovery and resolution gives you ample room for character arcs. Making that wrongdoing a part of a larger crime plays well with plot-driven stories where the end goal is the gain or downfall of a group of people.