We’re getting into the beginning of February 2021 already, and it’s a timely time to write a blog post. I’ve been quite proactive with drabbles this month, having three each accepted by Insignia Stories on the theme of Asian Mythical Beasts, four accepted by Breaking Rules Europe, and two by new indie press, Raven and Drake, on a themes of European folklore, legend and mythology. Wonderful stuff to write about, and greatly enjoyed the research, from one side of the planet to another. Am loving writing myth and legend; well it’s really rewriting isn’t it? Revisionism. Those Norse legends have intrigued me the most, having never delved into that area much at all in the past.
I pitched an idea to my Black Hare Press publisher revolving around a speculative take on Alice, the heroine of Wonderland. It was accepted and now there’s quite a buzz flowing with a range of genres where Alice is led to her latest very interesting adventures. This is a challenge for 13 exciting authors (including myself), and will be out in 2022, possibly earlier perhaps. Stay tuned. 🐰
Dawn DeBraal is highly prolific, writing numerous short stories in the couple of years since she has been professionally writing. You can catch her work in a large range of press including Paper Djinn Press, Kandisha Press, Black Hare Press and numerous others. She writes first drafts of 5k words in a day. So she’s that kind of committed to her writing.
Ximena Escobar recently relocated to Sydney Australia from the UK. She’s originally from Chile. She writes and publishes short fiction and poetry. She has also written for numerous indie press. She recently featured in Zero Hour, a cyberpunk anthology from Black Hare Press. She also greatly enjoys the Sydney beach out-of-town coastline for family get-aways.
D. Kershaw is the co-founder of Black Hare Press.As well as having stories accepted by WPC Press, Paramour Ink, Breaking Rules Europe and Blood Song Books, he moonlights as a minion of the hell hare, Captain Woundwort, in the dark hours.
Website : https://linktr.ee/dkershaw
Authors – Dawn DeBraal, Ximena Ecobar and D. Kershaw.
Authors on writing ideas
In a recent discussion, indie author Dawn DeBraal said to me, “If I can come up with an idea, I can write,” after having just written the first draft of an over-5000 word story in just one day. As I was quite impressed by her writing speed, I posed the following questions about writing to Dawn, as well as two Australian authors, Ximena Escobar and D. Kershaw.
How long have you been writing seriously?
DDB: I sent my first story out in November 2018. It was accepted! I have been addicted to that feeling since.
XE: Thanks for having me! Dawn is definitely a writing machine. Me, not so much. I could write articles and essays fast—- get an idea, as Dawn says, and write it. But the way I write fiction is tied to form and this slows me down. I reread and edit as I go; even if it’s a casual dialogue, nothing pretentious or poetic. Because I usually don’t know what’s going to happen next, so what I wrote before shows me the way forward, gives me the ideas.
DK: I had my first story, a drabble, published in 2019—”Hungry Restrain” in Blood Song Books’ Forest of Fear 1 which was a fill in for a post-production dropout (and I may have been a little drunk when I wrote it…don’t judge me, I was camping…).
I didn’t really write anything seriously before that. It hasn’t been a big part of my life—bar the editorial bits—until now.
It’s taken a while to feel confident in myself. And I’m an introvert, so I don’t like to share anything of my personal life. And when you’ve been closed for such a long time, it’s hard to let people see what’s inside.
Do you get lots of ideas just like that, or do you get inspired by particular themes?
DDB: I work well with prompts, so a lot of my writing is toward a call for a particular submission. But life and memories give prompts everyday if we are open to them.
XE: Both… Certain themes inspire me more than others, though. Ancient cultures, philosophy, women, misogyny, heart ache, intimacy, friendship. Visuals too. An image will often get those juices flowing, providing that extra ingredient to the above themes. But never the story. A situation yes, but my stories are not usually plot driven. When they are, such as in the case of collaborations where several authors write a chapter of the same cohesive story, I still need something else to get me going. Zero Hour, for example. I had the plot premise, but it was the question of how would your mind cope with sound and vision augs, the idea of that intensified stimuli /experience, that got me writing. It birthed a character which was totally outside of the main storyline, and trying to fit her into it gave my story shape. Also channelled Blade Runner and picked up elements from the only two other chapters I read before writing mine… I love it. Love everything about writing.
DK: I write to themes. I see a call I like; I try to write for it. But I don’t have much time, due to my commitments with Black Hare Press.
Or if I have a special someone who I know likes to read.
I can’t really just write, I need an end goal.
What has been your fastest to publication story you ever wrote?
DDB: Sometimes I write it in the morning and send it in the afternoon. Then you are at the mercy of the publisher. I am not a long-distance writer, yet. I hope to get there someday. 3000 is my sweet spot.
XE: Probably Gluttony, for Black Hare Press’s Seven Deadly Sins Series. It’s short, no more than 1k, but I wrote it in one sitting just before the deadline, and I received my acceptance soon after.
DK: I’m not sure. Maybe Forest of Fear 2? That was an invite only and I had to beg to be in it—I know, right? Me??
How many short stories did you write last year (2020)?
DDB: I submitted 274 stories, poems and drabbles, I received 128 acceptances in 2020.
XE: About 45, not including poems. Less drabbles than the previous year so I upped my word count.
DK: Not so many—I’ve been a reluctant writer.
“Quota” for Blood Song Books’ Harvest, “Heaven Scent” for Paramour Ink’s Happy Howlidays. I was invited to the tribe by author David Green for Black Hare Press’ Route 13 (which comes out later this year) and had five drabbles as a fill-in for a dropout in Quietus 13.
How many have you written to date? (Include drabbles or micro-fiction separately if you want to include them too.)
DDB: I’ve submitted 647 stories in the two years I’ve been writing which includes short stories, drabbles, and poem. With this morning’s acceptance, I am at 298 acceptances excited to be hitting that 300 mark.
XE: I’ve had about 150 stories published all up, including reprints, drabbles and poems. But I have more, unpublished, and several wips. I’m too lazy to count!
DK: My first was a drabble for Forest of Fear 1 in 2019…then eight more in 2020…plus seven this year…that’s…sixteen! (Twelve of those were drabbles.). All were accepted. Some are still pending publication.
Have particular quotes or pictures/images given you ideas?
DDB: As I stated earlier, everything in life is a story, you just have to see it. So yes. Everything is an idea.
XE: Yes. A Haiku by Pina Leyland inspired my story “The Making of a Star”, first published by Black Hare Press and then reprinted by Literally Stories. My story “Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress” was inspired by Frida Kahlo’s painting and the story behind it. My story “Return of Dragons”, at least the first line of the first draft, was inspired by the cover of the anthology in question.
DK: No, I write for calls, so whatever ideas the call gives.
How do you create your story? Characters first? Main character first? Something else comes first?
DDB: It’s a strange process. When I was a songwriter, someone would be speaking and something they said “sang” in my head. It’s similar to my writing. When I see something or hear a name I love, I have the story, right there. As I am writing it will take twists and turns.
XE: It will be a character, an image, an emotion or a situation. I find the story as I go.
DK: I have a basic plot in my head…what I think I want to happen. Then I start writing. Then it morphs into something completely different. 😊
If I’m comfortable with the genre—such as horror or dystopian—I find it easier to write.
My Happy Howlidays story was way out of my comfort zone—no horror, and fade-to-black romance. I had to fully plot that one, and it gave me so much anxiety to get it out of my head and onto paper. I see that reflected in the writing.
Are you a plotter? A strategic writer with a plan? Or are you a pantser? Run with it as it evolves in your head? (By the seat of your pants).
DDB: Since my main genre is short stories you don’t need much plotting. You start with the idea and it unfolds as you write. And yes, most definitely a “pantser.” I will start with an idea. Sometimes I will put a break under me and write the next idea I just came up with and head toward that goal in the story.
XE: Not a planner all! I don’t even think my characters through. I just know them intimately, back to front, but I don’t necessarily know what they do for a job for example, unless it’s important.
What advice would you give to other newer writers about writing a fast short story based on one idea?
DDB: Advice. Make sure you have checked and rechecked for errors. Sloppy writing of a good story could get you a rejection because an editor doesn’t want to have to take a lot of time to go over your story. Also submit. If you don’t submit it’s a no, if you do submit, it’s a maybe. Thank you, Gopi for asking!
XE: Don’t think I’d give any advice about writing fast… But it would be to not doubt yourself. Write what you want to write, the way you want to write it. Be true to yourself. Then listen to any feedback you receive, understand the editor or beta reader’s perspective before deciding to ignore their suggestions. They usually have a valid point.
DK: Have an idea of how your story will go. I find it easier to have an end point in mind. What’s going to be your final scene? What does your character need to achieve? Then work out where it can start. And go from there. Easy, huh?
Because I don’t plot, I start where I start, and it goes where it goes. More often than not, I don’t end up with the story I first thought of in the beginning.
My “Watch Over You” for Love in the Dark (WPC Press, out 7th February 2021) is a good example of that. It was supposed to be a chilling stalker-type tale, but…well, it didn’t turn out anything close to that…
Also…research. Make sure you have an idea of what your mythological creature looks like, where they live, the name of the lakes around there, etc.