Friday, July 10, 2015

Story Forger: Forging Short Stories

Last week, I ended with this rather vague paragraph: “tune in next time for an important announcement! It might possibly involve me giving out free critiques and things. Possibly.”

Yeah, I’m pretty good at vague.

Regardless of my ability to be vague, today is the day for an important announcement: I am giving away free critiques. This is in preparation for my next series of posts, which will be about critiquing.

Qualifications: I add this because sometimes people like to know that someone is qualified for something they want to do. For instance, I’m about to give you my qualifications for critiques, just so those few who want to know them have them. (Please take careful note of how clear those two sentences were, and feel free to admire them and their specificity. Also note sarcasm as necessary.)

First and foremost, I have critiqued seven full novels and fifty or more chapters from other manuscripts. These critiques have ranged from broader critiques (e.g. “what do you think of the overall plot, and this character?”) to more in-depth critiques (e.g. Sentence flow, plot hole-picking, emotions, etc.) to the full on editorial (e.g. Spelling, grammar, sentence structure, prose flow, and once I helped with formatting).

Secondly, I have received critiques on four manuscripts (some full, some not) from roughly two dozen people. I add this so that you know I’ve been on the other side of the critique. I know that crumpling feeling in your soul when someone says “I don’t really understand where this theme is going” or “I’m really annoyed by this character”. Been there, done that. 

Lastly, I placed second in a “critique contest” held on the One Year Adventure Novel forum, a contest hosted and judged by the creator of said curriculum. Just to throw that out there.

Now, back to business. Today, I’m starting a contest. Yup, one of those things where I, the blogger, encourage you, the reader, to do something for my amusement. You get a reward out of the deal, supposedly. But then, if you really consider something a contest, then someone loses. Someone doesn’t get a reward.

Losers are for… losers.

So today, there will be no losers. This contest will have a winner and second and third placers and even honorable mentions, but it will not have losers.

These are rather important, aren’t they?
Basically, I’m going to give you a prompt or two, a word limit, and a reward. After that, it’s up to you. I want you to write a short story based on what I give you, and then want you to send it to me.

Right. Details:
1. The prompts are as follows (you may use any or all of the prompts).

-use these words somewhere in the story: “Today I spilled my coffee. Someone is going to die.”

-this picture:

-or incorporate a dead dragon into the story. No one knows how it died, but it’s dead, and it’s in the story, somehow.

2. The minimum wordcount must be 1,500. I’d appreciate it if you keep the story below 5,000 words, since I have to read all of them. If you have 5,001 words, I’ll probably string you up and leave you for the birds. (Okay, I won’t. Ten lashings with a wet noodle, instead!)

3. Your story will be read (by me), and will be looked over for:
-emotional connection between reader and main character
-strong conflict
-steady pacing
-impactful resolution
-incorporation of the prompt(s) in clever ways.
I will not be looking for anything related to grammar or spelling, so don’t worry too much about those. This won’t be a final draft-type story.

4. You win!
I will choose a winner, second, third, and potentially honorable mentions from those stories sent in. But as I mentioned before, there will be not losers.
The winner will receive: A critique of their short story (which, if they allow it, will be posted sometime in the near future), and a critique of 5,000-7,000 words of one of their manuscripts.
Second place will get: A critique of their short story (which, if they allow it, will be posted sometime in the near future), and a critique of 3,000-5,000 words of one of their manuscripts.
Third place will be bestowed upon by: A critique of their short story (which, blah blah blah), and a critique of 1,500-3,000 words of one of their manuscripts.
After that, everyone who enters will receive: A summary critique of their short story (not to be posted in the near future), and a critique of 1,000-2,500 words of one of their manuscripts.

Eesh. What have I gotten myself into?

Ahem. More details:
5. The deadline to send your short story to me is Friday, July 24th (of this year, 2015, obviously). That gives you two weeks to write, polish, and submit. Exceptions can be made, but I’d rather not make them. Wizard may always arrive precisely when they mean to, but I’d rather you mean your story to arrive precisely on the deadline or before it.
6. Please send all submissions to Even if you have other ways of contacting me, I’d rather receive all entries via this email. Put “Forging Short Stories” in the subject line, and put the story in the body of the email. Please refrain from attaching the short story. No other information will be required of you until later (for instance, if you win one of the top three awards, then I’ll email you about information I’ll need for that, and all entries will need to send me an excerpt of the correct length).
7. Remember, just because I chose not to give you one of the top three spots doesn’t mean your short story is bad. In fact, there will probably be several fabulous stories that won’t make it to the top three. You just wrote a short story. Pride yourself in that, regardless of what rank I don’t give you.
8. Oh. That’s it. Oops.

I look forward to reading your short stories!
(Oh, and if you could leave a comment if you mean to try and write a short story, that’d be great; then I’ll now just what I got myself into.)


  1. I shall probably do this. (Can't promise anything, my family's a bit transient right now, and I don't know when we're going to move to Mexico.)

    1. Great! (Well. It's understandable if you can't. Very understandable.)

  2. I shall probably do this. ^.^
    One question though: is it all right if I started the story before finding out about this? I do have a way to work one of the prompts in.

    1. Sure, that's all right. I'm not too picky about that sort of thing. ;)

  3. I shall probably attempt to do this, provided that an upcoming camp doesn't steal the last vestiges of my sanity.

    1. Great! Can't wait to read whatever you come up with. ^_^