In my last post, I shared a short story I was particularly happy with, called “Shadows.”
I also explained in a previous post that this story had originally been very different. The first time I considered the concept of people losing their shadows, my imagination had taken me in a very different direction.
That original story, that I discarded because I wasn’t happy with it at the time, is available at the link below.
I thought it might be interesting to see how the same initial concept and basic building blocks can be taken in a completely different direction. The story, although it clearly exists in the same world as its twin, is nothing like it.
Rather than explain how, I’ll let you read the story, and comment below on which you prefer, and why, and what the stories mean to you.
I wrote Shadows over a year before I made it freely available. Much of that time was spent adjusting small details that no-one will ever notice.
I liked this story very much, and I think that’s part of the reason why it was so hard to let go. The audience are a collective Medusa. Once they set their eyes on a piece of your work, it turns to stone, and can never be changed. With some stories, that can be a hard step to take.
I don’t do all that much horror, but sometimes that’s just how a story turns out. Not that my horror is all that horrifying, but this story very clearly veered towards that genre about a third of the way through the writing process, and there was no clawing it back after that.
At about 1350 words, it’s pretty short, so it’s quick to read and easy to digest. I hope you like it.
The Christmas holidays are – despite appearances – an impossible time for me to write anything substantial. I have made zero progress on my more substantial projects (other than call into question everything I’ve written so far), and I’ve been unable to find the time to write any more of the short story or novella series that I’ve been working on.
Without the routine of home, there isn’t any time to sit at a keyboard and hammer out anything more sophisticated than a very short story.
But I have managed that, a very short story. Particularly in response to prompts over at Reedsy.
This particular story is a reaction to “write a story about a very skilled pickpocket”. It’s about an immigrant pickpocket in a big city. Unusually for me, there are no fantasy of science fiction elements at all. I did have some in mind, but as the story decanted onto the page, none of them made the transition.
I like writing in response to prompts because it allows me to generate a short story that’s hermetically sealed away from the longer-term projects I’m working on. Writing straight from my own imagination, without a prompt, results in my cannibalising bits from my stories-in-progress. I currently lack the mental discipline to write a spin-off of an unfinished story, instead I compromise the story itself as my imagination goes off in new directions with an unfinished universe.
The Ortholan’s crew barely survive their crash on an icy moon, and they owe their narrow escape to the least popular member of their crew, the Navigator, whom they call Blue. But they will need him again if they are to survive, because he is the only person aboard capable of flying the ship back to civilization. Unfortunately, without access to their medication, Navigators become somewhat unstable, and the crew’s only hope of salvation may well be the one who kills them all.