Microfiction: Late Night Study

If you’re new to this site then you might be pleased to discover that every now and then I take a break from my normal writing endeavors and I challenge myself to come up with a microfiction to share with you all.

Today’s was a result of writing a list of about eight words and then challenging myself to link those key words into a common story.

Late Night Study

The steady twap twap of the critter’s tiny pincers against the glass were fraying the young alchemist’s nerves.

The figures and notes from the journal in front of her were just as frustrating as she rubbed her tired eyes. The encryptions within were beginning to dance around her mind like two drunk lovers at the pub during the harvest celebrations.

Sighing, she closed the worn leather journal, accidentally rubbing her finger through the dust left behind on the table. How had so much dust accumulated in so little time?

Turning, she pulled the glass jar from the aging marble counter. “Sorry little guy, you’re not going anywhere until I transmute you.”

The praying mantis was still, sizing her up. Its eyes held her own in a silent glare as if daring her to realize the hubris of that claim.

“He was close.” She made a fist, “But I will succeed where he failed.” The mantis continued its silent watch as the splosh of raindrops announced the arrival of the storm.



The reason I love flash fiction so much is for the same reason I like working on daily vignettes, they give me these seeds for a story I can choose to come back to and work with at a later date.  Often, I start out with a thought and find out as I’m writing that it escalates quickly. 

This latest one came to me while I was sitting in my car during a downpour.  I had gotten to a meeting early and had just visited a monastery earlier in the week.

So, this came about:

Nights like this suck up the light.  Even the flickering lamplight is gone quickly as if some dark monster is out there eating it all up and leaving only the darkness.  The rain is pouring, its icy fingers soaking through these black robes.  Everywhere the air smells of wet plants and stone.

The weather couldn’t be more fitting.  A coup shouldn’t be marked by sunshine, the dramatic mood of the weather matches the occasion.  The overthrowing of a king should have some flair.

I tuck the book back into my robes, the note there memorized, but the feel of paper, even wet, is oddly soothing.  It’s a concrete form of an idea, something I can hold to in the calm before the chaos.

I make a brief sign, I may only be masquerading as a monk, but the prayer I just said was genuine.

The rain masks my footsteps, whether the shivering is from the cold or the nerves I can’t tell, probably both.  I come to the door, a great oaken door, sturdy and designed to hold off attacks, not assassins.

I nod to the knight stationed there.  He looks miserable, he too is shivering.  He only briefly looks at me and gestures toward the door.  Wet, miserable fool.

I open the door and step in.


A Novella

“I’ve got a jar of dirt! I’ve got a jar of dirt, and guess what’s inside it!” –Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I started a fantasy novella last July as a means of giving myself a break from my first novel. It was meant to be completed in the month as part of Camp NaNoWriMo in conjunction with watching Brandon Sanderson’s BYU classes on writing. Unfortunately, I got busy and the plot was giving me a few issues, so it remained in stasis for a while.

Part of my reason for writing it was to get a microcosm of the writing process, like learning to bake a cookie so that I can eventually go on to creating a soufflé. Another reason for writing it was also because I’ve spent the last ten years putting the pieces of my high fantasy work together, I needed a break and proof that I was more than just a one idea and done author.

So there you have it, the main reasons I’ve been exploring short stories and this novella over the course of the last year is because I need the practice before I go back and work on my high fantasy trilogy.

So why am I going on and on about this?

I finished the novella yesterday! It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be released any time soon, but it is another step forward. And I’m looking forward to what the story can teach me about the editing process.

The reason I love the Pirates of the Caribbean quote above is because that’s exactly what I have in this draft.  It is what amounts to a jar of sand that I’ll use to build my sandcastles. (Writing as related to sandboxes is a popular metaphor shared by at least both Ted Dekker and Shannon Hale regarding writing.)

What should be coming sooner than a published novella however, is news about short stories: the rest of this month will be committed to the backlog I’ve created of short story and flash fiction drafts. I’ll be cleaning them up and sending them off for submission.

For tonight though, I’ll continue celebrating that another major rough draft is finished.




(Here’s the first in the Sanderson lectures if you’re interested:)

Weekend Microfiction: The Chase

The words of the forest were dimmer today. The young mage was unsure how to approach the ancient trees. The soldiers would be here at any time and the mage needed the words of power, now. She felt sweat bead on her forehead as the pounding of horse hooves began to echo closer. The inquisitors were likely behind their speed. She looked at the trees and then at the sky. “Please.”

She was not sure where the plea was directed, but moments later her body filled with warmth, like golden light filtering in through a storm.