New Short Story: “A Shadow to Light”

I wrote a new short story that changed its name a few times before I tentatively settled on “A Shadow to Light.” It’s about 6,000 words. I wrote its first draft in two days.

This is an unusual one because it’s the first time I wrote a short story based on a longer story. (I’ve done the reverse multiple times.) In short, this story is an expanded and embellished retelling of a short arc from my webcomic, Negative One. The words aren’t the same and the action has some differences, but the characters are the same and they’re all in the same situation they were.

I decided to write this after getting most of the way through the book of short stories I was reading in my leisure time. Weirdly, I was inspired by the book because I didn’t actually like it.

I’ve been reading Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link. The short stories are all a little surreal and it’s not just the subject matter. They aren’t bad stories at all but I can pretty decidedly say they aren’t for me. But I looked up some interviews with the author because I was curious as to why she writes the way she does, and I pretty quickly found something that explained it: her stories grow out of a concept she likes. You can really tell that the story exists so the author and the readers can swim around in that concept.

And even though I didn’t enjoy the book of stories as much as I wanted to, I wondered whether ideas I’ve written could support a story that’s more about an idea than it is about a character or a series of actions.

In writing “A Shadow to Light,” I did not succeed in keeping it mainly to the concept because I just always end up leaning into letting the characters carry it, but at least the kernel of the idea was inspired by the same process I was going for. I also figured that Kelly Link’s extreme weirdness and lack of closure did not stop her from being successful with these stories, so there was no reason I need all of my stories to be traditional beginning/middle/end journeys or cohesively presented buildings with their architectural plans all in order either. So it’s a little loose, a little inconclusive, a little bit more about a moment.

We’ll see how it goes.

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