Welcome to the first episode of “Super-Short Storytime!” Today’s tale is about bumping into old classmates. Enjoy “Betty’s Baby,” a selection from “Ten Tiny Tales.”
In celebration of Furry Fiesta: Mad Science taking place this weekend, here are a few of my favorite science fiction stories!
This week’s New Thing is my super-short story for January 2016. It is actually a follow-up to last November’s story, which ended on a cliffhanger.
I previously mused about the universes my stories take place in. There, I mentioned that the majority of my stories did not take place in ‘the real world’ (Earth-Prime). Instead, I have a parallel world (Earth-F) that is inhabited by furries but is otherwise similar to our reality, but for the problems that possessing fur, claws, and sharp pointy teeth might introduce.
I recently found myself writing two stories that inched a bit closer to the real world than usual and went through the trouble of making sure they didn’t get too far away from their real-life influences.
The first, “Rules of the Game,” was based on the invention of basketball by James Naismith but transposed on to a world where a furry basketball league exists (FBA). While I had the basic outline for the story down, I took it upon myself to research both the real-life events that led to the creation of the game as well as what limited information I could find on the fictional history of the Furry Basketball Association. While I didn’t have to do so, I did the research in the interest of accuracy and I’d like to think the story came out better for it.
Another as-of-yet-unpublished story (“Epiphany”) gives a fictional account of what may have influenced the creation of some well-known characters. I could have simply written the story with no regards for the real events or individuals involved, but I wanted it to make real-world sense even though it doesn’t exactly take place in the real world. Once again, I did my research and I hope that the story stands up to scrutiny.
I might be the only one that cares about such things, but such is the price of having an anal-retentive computer guy brain!
When I started writing fiction, I didn’t give much thought into linking my short stories together or having them take place in a shared universe. As time went on, I did find myself putting some of them into a few distinct worlds:
“Earth Prime” is our home-sweet-dimension, and given that the majority of my stories involve some combination of furries, super-science, and fantasy, I don’t know that many of them actually take place here. I do have a few sci-fi stories that take place ‘twenty minutes into the future,’ that is, near enough for us to relate to them (I hope!).
“Earth-F” is a parallel version of our world inhabited by furries. These stories tend to be humorous and I like to ‘Hanna-Barbera’ the names in those stories. For example, in a story that took place in a television studio, an older character referred to old-time TV stars such as “Mewcille Ball” and “Droopy Sales.” I know, I know!
On “Earth H-minus” mankind has destroyed itself in what becomes known as the “Final War” and after their intelligence has been increased due to increased mutations, the furries eventually inherit the Earth. One as-yet unpublished story takes places in a period where humans and furries coexist, though not harmoniously. Society is eventually rebuilt by the furries but I haven’t quite hammered out the predator/prey relationship rules yet or if the humans were completely eradicated. Yeah, its not exactly a happy place.
The ‘Enchanted Forest’ stories obviously happen in a fantasy world, but I haven’t done much there (like come up with a clever name) though it has been established that magic does have limits. For now, anyway.
I should probably sit down and figure out just where all my stories fit, because inevitably some reader out there is going to try to ‘connect the dots’ and completely screw it up. Well, assuming I haven’t already! 😀
A spectacular failure can have the effect of dropping a big heaping scoop of self-doubt on one’s head. After failing to sell even a single paper copy of my first furry book, “Con Fluff 1,” in the Artist Alley of Furry Fiesta a few weekends ago, I found myself questioning everything I did there: my sales pitch, my table layout, pricing, and so on. The bigger question of “Am I Doing It Wrong?” has also been hanging over my head since then.
A friend recently made the observation that I was incorrectly trying to sell clean stories to an audience that was not interested in them. Given how I joke with friends about how some furry art sites don’t update until you turn off their “not safe for work” filter, I’m hardly in a position to disagree. A little part of me is wondering if I should cross that line and start writing erotica/smut/porn/what have you.
I’ve never written anything overtly sexual, and I don’t have much desire to…it’s just not my thing. Despite that, I now have a little nagging voice in my head telling me that if I just cross that line, I will gain a bigger audience. Oddly enough, the internal debate I am having is reminiscent of when I’ve see artist friends struggle with the question of whether to do fan art for conventions.
While doing your own thing as a creative person is very personally satisfying, it also carries some risk, especially where anime and comic book fans are concerned. Those fans have popular characters that they like and don’t often take chances on things that are different or new, especially coming from a little-known or new artist. However awesome an artist’s original creation may be, most folks are going to gravitate to the table with the cool looking Iron Man or Hetalia fanart. In the same way, I find myself wondering if folks are bypassing my works just because it is clean.
Part of the reason I don’t write smut is that I don’t think I’d be good at it, but that isn’t stopping me from considering crossing that line. The little cloud of self-doubt that’s been following me around since Furry Fiesta isn’t helping either.
I don’t know. I guess it wouldn’t hurt if things got just a little more naughty. We’ll see.
A question I often have to ask myself when writing a short story is just when do I start the story. “Well, at the beginning, DUH,” you’re probably thinking to yourself, but things often aren’t that simple.
Since I often have a word limit that I can’t go over, that often doesn’t leave me with enough space to set things up, so the story ends up starting somewhere after the characters, setting, situation, etc, have been established. Oftentimes, though, those details are not all important to the point I’m trying to make in the story, so that’s okay.
Whenever I’m doing a ‘gag’ story, which is fairly often, I really can’t start at ‘the beginning’ (wherever that may be) because starting near the end makes it easier to hide information that is critical to the punch line. The challenge there is making sure that I give the reader enough information so that they understand what is going on.
Start at the beginning? If it were only always that simple!