Story Inspiration Sunday

This week I was in San Francisco, for the day job. I had to stay at a hotel pretty far from downtown, but luckily, the company provided free buses into the city.

On Wednesday, the traffic was pretty awful when I was going in. The little signs that tell you how long it will take to get to downtown? All the other days it had been less than 10 minutes. On Wednesday, it was more like 45.

This was after we’d already been on the bus for over 30 minutes.

So I had a lot of time on my hands.

Recently, I’ve been doing some long-range planning, what I want to write. I have a whole bunch of novels that I already have sketched out.

On this extra long bus ride, I started listing out all the short stories.

Then, I started poking at one.

It’s a story I wrote for Baker’s Dozen, called, The Doom of Alokai Temple.

I had an idea for a new short story, that I had tentatively named, “The New Sacrifice.”

Here’s the blurb for the original story:

Storm lives alone, shunned like all witches for her gift of prophesy. All her visions come true, but at the cost of life, equal to the fortune being told. She can’t hide her gift either: A compulsion to tell the person their future accompanies each augury.

In Storm’s latest vision, she sees the destruction of Alokai temple, as well as the priestesses who burn witches.

How can Storm tell them their fate without revealing her true nature? Can she also escape the doom of Alokai?

In the new short story, I started playing with the idea of a young witch, not very skilled, who takes the wrong life for her vision. How can she correct her mistake?

Then I suddenly realized it wasn’t a short story question.

Not if she kills a prince.

The whole novel started taking place in my head. The conflict kept getting bigger. And then all the subplots started showing up.

I don’t always start with the blurb for a novel. But in this case, it seemed to make sense. I needed to know that bit before I could move on.

The new novel is called, “When the Moon Over Kualani Comes.”

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The title is based on an old proverb in this world, spoken in the southern islands:

“When the red moon rises directly over Kualani Mountain, madness follows.”

And here’s the blurb:

Centuries ago, fate forced the witches to move from the mainland to the southern island kingdoms. The peace-loving people there accepted and welcomed the healers and the growers.

Not those with the gift of foretelling.

Every prophesy forces two great compulsions on its teller: First, the need to take life equal to the weight of the fortune told, and second, a geas to tell those involved their future.

As a witch ages and gains wisdom, she learns how to judge what life must be taken to avoid death herself.

What happens when a young witch accidentally takes the life of a young prince? How can she fix her mistake, particularly when the head of her temple declares it as the new path for all witches, to take the lives of royalty?

I’ve decided to go ahead and write this novel next.

So, asking the writers out there — do you ever go back through a short story and decide to expand it out? This has happened to me a few times now. Or do you write the novel, and then add the short stories? I’ve come at novels that way as well. What about short fiction inspires you to write longer fiction, if anything at all?

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Story Inspiration Sunday — 4 Comments

  1. My second short story “The Divi” has a world of backstory waiting for me. I just haven’t had time to sit down and do it.

    Usually the short stories come later when the world is already built.

  2. I have tried to reuse novel backgrounds in shorter work — never had any luck. And I can’t go the other way, either — stretching a short out into a novel length work. They seem to be two quite different critters for me.

  3. What an AWESOME bus ride!

    I finally had the Alfreda short stories grow into novels. I had to know what happened next, and she derailed a big project I have yet to finish. I am not sure if Pat Rice meant to write Evil Genius–I think she said it was to be her fun project to blow off steam. And then she became obsessed with it.

    Patricia C. Wrede did several short stories that bloomed into novels. Deborah J. Ross wrote her short stories about the world of The Seven-Petaled Shield first, didn’t she? I think Sherwood Smith wrote novels first about the family in Crown Duel, and then the short pieces later.

  4. I’ve gone back and forth. Ended up writing a prequel short story to one novel in progress, and a sequel to a five-volume series that turned into a novella.

    That was some bus ride. I love the bits of story you’ve shown us.