Short stories, Flash fiction, and Novel Excerpts

Posts Tagged ‘Western’

So you want to write a story

In Writing on January 11, 2010 at 1:16 am

So you want to write a story.  You’ve been reading for years and now you’re ready to take the next step.  You have something to say and want to ‘give it a go’, and why not?  First, learn the language, take classes or read how-to books.  Second, learn how to write, see number one.  Third, have something to say, something that comes, not just from the bottom of you heart, But from the deepest untouched part of your soul.  Got it?  Good, you can tell me how to do that.

If you’re just starting out, you really don’t need to worry about where it comes from.  What you need to do is write.  Do not be afraid to fail.  Do not be afraid to suck.  You will, we all do.  Just write.

Some things to keep in mind when trying to craft a story:

Showing cause & effect.  If your character does something, it should have some type of consequence.  Remember:  Every action has an equal and opposite re-action.

Compare and contrast to develop an idea.  Use other characters to show what may or may not work in your story.  (This Guy failed to accomplish something because…  While this Gal succeeded because she had the right idea.)

Use classification to a purpose.  Most people will tell you to stay away from cliché’s and archetypes, to come up with something original.  But why would you do that now?  You’re just practicing your writing, use what ever you want.  What you want to do is give it purpose.  If you use a cliché, make it work, sweat, and bleed in your story.  Have it earn its place in your writing.

I’ll leave it to you to decide the order of importance of:




But these are the three main things you must have in any story.  Everything else follows naturally.

Things to describe:

Who, what, when, where, why, and how.  I’ve heard some say that this is only for journalistic writing, but that’s not true.  This goes for each character, each experience, and each world visited by your writing.  These are things we need to know.

Do not forget the five senses.  Touch, Sight, Smell, Sound, Taste.  Often, new writers will miss these touches that can add so much to any piece of writing.  Don’t forget them, open up your world to us, make it unforgettable.

Choose and limit a subject.  Find out where you want to start, and where you want to end.


Coyotes of Cheyenne

In Writing on December 11, 2009 at 12:51 am

Shawn hobbled his horse to the fence rail. He rubbed the dappled gelding on the nose, and stepped up to the gate; straightening his coat while the youngling, still between hay and grass, shuffled his way over.

“Mister,” the youth greeted. “What can I do you to?”

“This still the McConnell place?”

“Yeah, been a hard year but the boss is keeping it up,” the boy looked around proudly.

“Good. He around? I gotta a dicker for ‘im,” Shawn said pulling a copper from his pocket.

The youth looked up at him narrowed eyed, “He know ya?”

Shawn smiled, “Yeah, we been through the mill a time or two.”

He flipped the coin to the boy, “I’ll wait right here. Just tell ‘im Shawn is here to see ‘im.”

Catching the coin the boy inspected it in his palm, nodded, and shuffled off to the house.

Shawn turned around, leaning up against the rails, and chucked his horse under the chin. He looked south, the setting sun to his right, and squinted at the plume of dust coming from the road. They’d be here in a few minutes whoever they are, he thought.

Two men rode up at a canter, reining to a harsh stop. No call to treat a horse that way, Shawn thought, shaking his head. While the men dismounted, he opened his poke and rolled a cigarette. Tobacco and paper danced between his stained fingers. Striking the match with a worn cracked thumbnail Shawn lit the smoke between his lips, taking what could be his last drag.

The men looked as rough as they treated their horses; unwashed hair hung in strings, faces that hadn’t seen a razor in weeks, and ragged dusters in sore need of patching. One of the men was missing the little finger on his left hand and the other had a long purple scar running from temple to chin, just missing his eye.

Scar-face stepped forward and asked, “You a McConnell?”

“Aye, that I am,” Shawn answered. “What can I do fer ya?”

Lefty guffawed and slapped Scar-face on the back, “Dude,” he said sneering. “You can start by paying your share of the insurance on this here grange.

Shawn kept his face smooth, but switched the cigarette to his left hand, keeping the other free for his Model-P, and asked, “I hadn’t been here for quite some time, just what does the insurance cover, hmm?”

Lefty leaned forward, tipped his hat back, and demanded, “Cover? You got me balled-up boy! That what they say back in the Old States er somethin’?”

Scar-face didn’t say anything, but he flipped his duster back, showing he was heeled. So that’s how they want this to play-out, Shawn thought. He stepped away from the fence stopping a couple paces short of the pair.

“Yeah, that’s what we say back East,” he told the blowhard. “You know which direction that’s in?”

“You need ta pull in your horns there boy,” Scar-face said, dropping his hand to the butt of his gun.

Lefty crossed his arms over his chest a smirk playing at the corners of his mouth. “You can start by handing over the reins of that crow-bait there by ya,” he said.

“I’d take it as a kindness if you wouldn’t talk about my horse that way,” Shawn said, lowering his hand to his pistol.

Lefty shook his head, “That there is our horse now. Best you just step away.”

Shawn didn’t move, didn’t blink, just watched Scar-face’s fingers from his peripheral.

Lefty frowned, demanding, “You hear me boy? I said step away.”

Scar-face’s thumb twitched and Shawn turned to the side as he drew and fired twice, feeling something tug at his shoulder. Through the haze of gun smoke he saw Scar-face fall into a crumpled heap. Shifting his stance, he brought his sights to bear on Lefty—who struggled to pull his iron.

“Stand down Mister,” Shawn said. “No more killin’s needed.”

Lefty froze then slowly looked up into Shawn’s eyes. “You killed my brother. I can’t let it stand at that,” he said, pulling his gun free. And fell to the dust beside his brother.

“What in Hell-fire is going on here?” Shawn heard a voice yell. “Not back ten-minutes an already cause’n trouble.”

“They tried to take my horse Danny,” Shawn said turning to face his brother and six other men armed to the teeth.

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. –Thomas Jefferson