Ideas and Inspiration for Short Stories

I have been asked where I get my ideas for my short stories. Recently, because of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, my ideas have stemmed from the letter of the day. I like playing with names and discovering odd or silly sounding names like Greta Grimmward and Horatio Horrocrux. I pulled the character’s first names off of baby name lists, and the last names are twisted versions found off of surname lists. Then, I write the story based on who I think the characters are because of their name.

Another place to find inspiration are the many websites that specialize in writing prompts or theme generators. One of my favorite sites is Writing Exercises and Prompts. This site has a plot generator, random first lines, random subject generator, etc. I have had some great ideas blossom here.

Chuck Wedig’s blog is another place I have found ideas. Every once in awhile he hosts a short story writing challenge with prompts posted by his readers. I picked up on one prompt that turned into a short story about a guy named Bob. It was a fun way to flex writing muscles that I didn’t know I had. If you visit his blog, be aware that he does not soften the edges. He freely uses every four letter cuss word there is, plus a few shorter ones too.

What are some other ways to find inspiration? Just look behind you. Where have you been? What have you experienced? Family members can provide a wealth of story material. Got a crazy uncle? What about Great Grandpa? Was he a horse thief? Have you ever gone into Walmart to see who’s shopping there? You can find such a huge variety of characters in a Walmart.

Where do you find your ideas and inspiration? Share them in the comments. I love finding new ways to get inspired. Like this post which was inspired by the letter…..

Heratio Horrocrux

“Why, hello Horatio. Having some trouble?” I leaned against the door frame watching Horatio scramble to reach the blade I put in him. For the first time in a millennial, I am happy. What the heck, it felt good to drive it in to him. What a jerk he’d been all these years. I just wanted him back, but he tripped over himself on a daily basis.

I grabbed my hair. Out of habit I untied and retied the band that held it back. “How does it feel Harry? Do you recognize it?”

He turned on me, “Don’t call me Harry! You know how I feel about that.” Horatio went back to grabbing at his back trying, in vain, to get the knife out. “Am I supposed to know something about the knife? It is in my back. It does hurt. Let me tell you what else I know about you Greta. You’re jealous. You just want what you can’t have. You’ve been a step behind me trying to steal my mist. Every time you’re too slow, and you can’t stand that I’m there first.”

Laughter rippled up from my stomach. Heratio Horrocrux was an idiot. It’s safe to say I never really liked the guy, but like every feeder I did have a sympathetic side. His paranoia was pushing him further and further into the dark places that feeders end up. The deeper he went the further he fell from the tribe and it was time for him to find his way back. My job was to see he came back in the fold and yesterday I finally caught up to him.

“OK. I’ll give you my snarky name calling Horatio, but you need to focus. Stop thrashing around and tell me about the knife.” I moved closer to Horatio. “It was your’s at one time. Have you forgotten? You spoke the first enchantment, and captured the first feeder.”

Horatio froze. Something seemed to wash over him and I hoped it was recognition. He was the first chaser for the tribe, but after a thousand years of huffing the fumes from the humans he forgot his place. He lost his way. Addiction replaced responsibility.

Lunging at me he roared, “No! I won’t go back! I won’t do it!” He turned on his heel and slid through the window. The human stirred. Thank the Tribe he didn’t break the pane in his rush to leave. I followed him knowing he wouldn’t get far. The addict never did. Once the knife finished it’s job, and chemicals were out of his system we could work to bring him back. It took time, but I hoped he would recover. Maybe it would work this time. Maybe.

_________________

This ends Part 2 of the Greta Grimmward and Haratio Horrocrux series. Read Part 1 here.


This post inspired by:

nspired by:

Greta Grimmward

Someone put a knife in my back yesterday and now I’m pissed. I had a list a mile long. Humans to feed on, fear and loathing to relish in, and death to ponder. Now, none of these things will get done. And worst of all? There’s a knife in my backside that I can’t get out.

What was yesterday? Yeah, now I remember – Monday. Mondays are a busy day for me. I relish the ooze that slithers in the ethereal stratum. Especially at first light. Humans hate Mondays. They drag from their beds with a luscious aura of dread. It is candy for me and I freely move from house to house, room to room, bed to bed, inhaling the raw bliss.

I remember most of yesterday with clarity, but toward the fifth or sixth house I felt a tickle. Or was it a niggle? Something was making the hair on my back ripple with static. I should have looked in the dark corners more closely, but this particular Monday was exceptional. My gorging distracted me. A floorboard creaked and a whisper of what I now know to be a blade being unsheathed.

The enchantment embedded in the blade was the crowning blow. The moment it pierced my flesh was the moment my ability to feed stopped. The abrupt cessation ripped through me with pain exploding along every nerve. I felt a raw surge of fire just before I blacked out.

I woke up just a bit ago with my face planted in a pile of dirty clothes. Normally I would have delighted in the sweet perfume that filth exuded, but not today. It was more like the vulgarity I usually felt with joy, happiness, or birth. All pleasures I felt yesterday were gone. I feel empty. Hollow.

Greta Gimmward’s name was all over this. She has been chasing me since…well, I’m not sure when. The first time we met humans they were barely scratching for survival. The fruits of their fear were less sweet than they are today. They existed back then without much regard for life or death.

We have competed for the same human feeding grounds, and I beat her to them nearly every time. At every village and hobble where humans gathered I was there feeding from the initial offgassing pouring off humans as they rise to face each day. It’s what we survive on. Greta Grimmward was always a step behind me. Always just a little too late, a little too distracted.

She warned me many times that she would catch up to me. “You’ll find a knife in your back one day. You’ll see.” I always waved her off like a speck of dust on my shirt sleeve. Then yesterday happened. I think I’m more mad at myself for letting my guard down rather than the fact that Greta managed to get an enchanted knife in my back.

Rubbing against the door frame proved futile in my attempt to remove the knife. It seemed to vanish whenever I tried to rub it off. Any attempts to reach to that one spot that, to all humanoid shaped creatures, impossible. Dancing in circles only made me howl at the sky. Like a scratch in the center of the back. Insanely impossible to reach.

“Why, hello Horatio. Having some trouble?”

________________

This concludes Part 1 of Greta Gimmward. Tune in next time when the story continues with Heratio Horrocrux.


This post inspired by:

Plot Generator

This morning, I sat staring at my computer looking for inspiration. I noticed a bookmark that I saved ages ago. I left it in the nav bar so I could go back and check it out later. Instead, I proceeded to forget about it. Until now.

The book mark is to a plot generating website. It is similar to the game, Mad Libs.  With Plot Generator, you put in a bunch of words and it will write a full short story for you. With my need to have some inspiration I plugged in a bunch of words, moods, places, and descriptions then I indicated I wanted a short story. It took a matter of about 5 seconds and VIOLA I had a short story.

Now, mind you, I had no idea what to expect. The words I gave were pretty arbitrary and some did not match up to what they asked for. It was a hodge-podge of gobbely-gook. As a result…this short story is too, but it’s also really funny. It is worth noting that I did not edit, change, reword, or touch this in any way. This is raw and right off the press. So, without further delay, here is an amazing short story.

Two Steady Uncles Swimming to the Beat

A Short Story
by KJ Scrim (written by Plot generator)

Kaitlin Manning looked at the heavy cup in her hands and felt depressed.

She walked over to the window and reflected on her homey surroundings. She had always loved small Parker with its quirky, quarrelsome quaint. It was a place that encouraged her tendency to feel depressed.

Then she saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Sam Goodman. Sam was a smart giant with rugged eyes and robust feet.

Kaitlin gulped. She glanced at her own reflection. She was a nasty, moody, cocoa drinker with skinny eyes and large feet. Her friends saw her as a barbecued, bitter bread. Once, she had even helped a shiny puppy cross the road.

But not even a nasty person who had once helped a shiny puppy cross the road, was prepared for what Sam had in store today.

The snow teased like playing dog, making Kaitlin happy.

As Kaitlin stepped outside and Sam came closer, she could see the bitter smile on his face.

Sam gazed with the affection of 9,468 funny flaky fish. He said, in hushed tones, “I love you and I want equality.”

Kaitlin looked back, even more happy and still fingering the heavy cup. “Sam, Is that real leather,” she replied.

They looked at each other with satisfied feelings, like two clumsy, calm cats drinking at a very loyal party, which had rock music playing in the background and two steady uncles swimming to the beat.

Kaitlin regarded Sam’s rugged eyes and robust feet. “I feel the same way!” revealed Kaitlin with a delighted grin.

Sam looked curious, his emotions blushing like a fluffy, fluttering fork.

Then Sam came inside for a nice mug of cocoa.

THE END

Praise for Two Steady Uncles Swimming to the Beat

“I feel like I know Kaitlin Manning. In a way, it feels as though I’ve always known her.”- The Daily Tale

“About as enjoyable as being hailed on whilst taking in washing that has been targeted by seagulls with the squits.”
– Enid Kibbler

“Saying the snaw teased like playing dog is just the kind of literary device that makes this brilliant.”
– Hit the Spoof

“I could do better.”
– Zob Gloop

Traditional or Self Publishing?

It is already September and I haven’t written a post since early August. Last month was beyond busy so this blog was set aside, until now. It is time to turn over a new leaf and begin posting at least once per week. It is a simple goal and I am excited to get started with this post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The question for September?

What publishing path are you considering to take, and why?

Each day I get closer and closer to completing The Manx and I have just started to scratch the surface of how to publish it. There are two ways to go:

  1. Self Publish
  2. Traditionally Publish

Both are beneficial.

Self publishing gives the author the freedom and flexibility to make all of the decisions regarding publication. The author, alone, takes on the role of publisher (and the costs involved) by doing the marketing, setting prices, securing an editor and agent. By doing this the author keeps all the profits – if any – to themselves. There is no publisher who wants a piece of the pie. Yet, all of the work falls on the writer which takes away from the writing itself.

Traditional publishing is, as it sounds, done through traditional process of finding a publisher who will coordinate many aspects of getting your book from your computer to print. The financial responsibility is shifted away from the author, but the publisher collects all profits and shares them with the author through royalty checks. On average an author can expect 10% on a hardcover which increases as sales increase.

Both have benefits. It is up to the individual author to choose which method they want to pursue. For me, I am leaning toward traditional. I know myself. I’m not very good at tooting my own horn so my marketing would fail if I self published. My skin isn’t very thick either and I have a hard time saying ,”No”. A traditional publishing house will, I hope, be strong in the areas I am not resulting in better sales.

Now What?

For now, I will keep writing and working toward the day I type, The End. 

What’s New?

In the mix of working on The Manx, I found the need to write something else. It happens to me on a regular basis. So I started something VERY different for me; a cozy mystery. Murder in Sulfur Gulch  is turning out to be quite fun to write. It is funny, light, and has started to twist and turn. It is slowly turning into a prequel to The Manx so I hope they will organically turn into books #1 and 2. I’ll let you know as I progress.

It’s a Blog Hop!!

As with all posts for IWSG posts this is a blog hop. Check out the other writers who take part in this monthly post.

Click here to start hopping!

This post inspired by:

The awesome co-hosts for the September 5 posting of the IWSG are Toi Thomas,T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!

Changes

The first Wednesday of the month I normally dedicate to a post from #IWSG. This month the question posed is, “What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?” I have not gone through publication so I am looking forward to learning from others. Click here to join the blog hop.

 

Instead, I am sharing some good news! Over the past few years I have been a Contributing Editor for the Pikes Peak Writers blog, Writing From the Peak. My main contributions were posts celebrating the successes of our members through Sweet Success. I still have the pleasure of sharing the good news when a member publishes a book, has a short story picked up by an anthology, has a book signing, or been honored with an award. Now I have accepted to step up to Managing Editor.

 

Deadlines are best met early.

 

It has only been a week since I jumped into the hot seat, and it has been great. Thankfully my learning curve is not the size of the Grand Canyon. I already have two blogs I keep up with. Both are WordPress –PPW’s as well–so I have that part pretty well figured out. Scheduling has been a little bit of a trick, but the further ahead I schedule the less stress I have. Deadlines are best met early.

 

My favorite part, so far, is getting to know everyone. I have met several contributors in person, and have virtually met others. Reading their submissions has been wonderful. There are so many ways a single subject can be presented. Just take a look at the different posts that are generated through #IWSG’s blog hop. Fantastic!

 

After adventuring through #IWSG’s blogs, hop over to PPW’s site too. There is a plethora of posts on everything writing.

 

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Today’s post inspired by :

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the August 1 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe,Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery!
….and by:

Question of the Month – #IWSG

It is that time of month when I address a question from IWSG. June sixth’s question is: What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names? I can easily say that character names are harder.

Titles for my stories and books have come organically. As I write, something just triggers in my mind and there it is. This doesn’t mean I don’t go back and change it ever. Originally I titled one short story, Bob. I liked the simplicity of it, but as I was writing I found it didn’t capture the depth of it so it became, Bob, An Ordinary Man. In the final edits, I still wasn’t satisfied with it. The final? Ordinary Man. Even though the title changed with my restless dissatisfaction with it, it was never stressful. It just flowed from what I wrote.

Names for characters, on the other hand, make me crazy. In April of 2018 I wrote a blog post addressing this very issue. That particular post addressed the difficulties I had with finding character names in The Manx. For any of my characters, I agonize over them. It feels like naming my children. At least when we named them, it was only for two kids rather than the populations filling my novels.

I have links to websites that list bay/girl names, Welsh, Manx, Irish, German, Polish, and on and on. I do rely on ancestry in many cases. It is fun to discover the rainbow of names. When I’m developing a character I have a list of traits that I want to match to a name. For instance, if I have a shy, mousy, female character who is so quiet people don’t know she’s even in the room, I would resonate with a name like Anne, Chris, or Sarah. The opposite character traits bring names like Debra, Monica, or Sheryl to mind.

There are many ways I drive myself nuts coming up with a character’s name. I really need to try and not be so possessive of their names. Just let all the Franks, Marys, Ethels, and Bernieces be who they are. Not every person is defined by their name. Just like anything in writing it all can be changed or deleted.

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This post inspired by:

Every month, IWSG announces a question that we, the members, can answer in our IWSG post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story.

The awesome co-hosts for the June 6 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure,Tyrean Martinson,Tonja Drecker, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

 

It's a Blog Hop!

 

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