For the many – flash fiction

A medieval warrior on horseback looks across a desolate landscape at a mountainous thing: a space shuttle on its launchpad, overgrown and forgotten.

We’re back in Flash fiction territory once more, stretching our creative muscles for a bit of fun. The inspirational image is called Cyberpunk, by artist Yuri Shwedoff, and the Key words we have to utisilise are Mercian, Rain God, and Laughter – brought to us this month by Peter Coleborn from a mysterious bit of …

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Nunkie’s M.R. James

Robert Lloyd Parry in full flow as M.R. James

ChillerCon is just around the corner, and my favourite storyteller will be there, so I thought it apt to reshare, expand and update my thoughts on Robert Lloyd Parry’s performed readings of M.R. James’ classic ghost stories. We’ll kick off with a primer for those who don’t know about M.R. James, so if you’re familiar …

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Shush – flash fiction

Shush - flash fiction

As previously discussed, writing is hard, but I feel a responsibility as an editor to keep myself at the sharp end of it, my own skills to better empathise with and advise my clients. I picked out an evocative image to inspire me (those big bullies up there), and three key words I’d have to …

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Losing the plot

Losing the plot

Some people have a very clear path in mind when it comes to writing. They’re super-organised: plotting it all in advance, figuring out the twists and turns of action and emotion. It sounds great in principle, but my brain doesn’t work that way. I’m more of a surfer, catching the wave of inspiration as it …

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Rotten Heart – flash fiction

Rotten Heart - flash fiction

As there’s a spare week this month, I thought I’d have another crack at some flash fiction. I was pleased with how last week’s came out, though appalled at my timing in retrospect. I mean, come on, Dion – a visceral piece about a miscarriage that close to Mother’s Day? Oof. My apologies. For this …

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Stilled Life – flash fiction

Stilled Life - flash fiction

Now that I’ve started to charge for my audio work, I’m flipping my Hobby weeks back to writing flash fiction. As previously discussed, writing is hard, but I feel a responsibility as an editor to keep myself at the sharp end of it, honing my own skills to better empathise with and advise my clients. …

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Perspective matters

Perspective matters

Perspective is critical to story. It provides the narrative voice your readers follow, gives us crucial insights and privileged information about characters and events; it even dictates (to a certain degree) how the plot unfolds. Fundamentally, it is the mechanism by which we understand and engage with the narrative. Get it right and you have …

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The Electric Eye of the Silver God, Pt 1 – a performed reading

The Electric Eye of the Silver God

‘It seemed an appropriately mythic thing, to steal the treasure of a false deity before finally accepting that he was too old for heroics.’ On a world where all of Time has become…twisted, an Egyptian pharaoh sets out on a quest to help his dying friend. Accompanied by a spy, a monster, a Norse mechanic …

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Want-to wants

Want-towants

Do you know what you want? Okay, but do you really want it, or do you just ‘want’ to want it? There’s a difference, see, and it took me a long time to understand that. Take writing, for instance. I’ve always had a facility with words, so writing and editing should have been a shoo-in. English Literature was my favourite subject at school, and I followed it right the way through to university, which begs the question…why did it take me so long to get into the industry?

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Discomforting (Parsing Judgement #2)

Discomforting (Parsing Judgement #2))

I’ve had some difficult conversations with clients (and prospective clients) over the years. People can be…resistant to constructive criticism, despite the fact they’re paying for it—all the more so if there’s an inherent issue to the writing that stains character and plot. Some of the most delicate conversations, I find, are those in which the issues of subconscious misogyny, racism or bigotry must be raised. Writing is intensely personal, after all. But look, horror fiction is my bread and butter; *context matters, so I’m here today to help parse the difference between portraying repugnant things and absorbing them into your writing.

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From Tappet Woods – a performed reading

Cat guarding its precious book

Hello, my lovelies. Feb 20th is my birthday, so I thought I’d give you all a gift: an hour of audio entertainment, written and performed by yours truly. ‘From Tappet Woods’ was my attempt at creating a story in the vein of M.R. James—classical in tone, cosy yet unnerving, ambiguous and hopefully atmospheric. I’ll let …

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Flashes of inspiration #13 – Entries

Writing prompt: Businessman seated on a telephone wire. Watched by a crow.

Hey there, here are the entries for the latest Flashes of Inspiration contest. I’ve been joined by the lovely Tabatha Wood, who interviewed me last week. In case you weren’t aware, she has a collection of short horror fiction out, called Dark Winds Over Wellington. You can check it out here. Okay, so the words this week were Seminal, Ferocity, Pyjamas. We had 400 words to play with and we were looking to evoke a bygone age with our writing. Let’s see what we’ve got…

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Flashes of inspiration #13 – Challenge

Writing prompt: Businessman seated on a telephone wire. Watched by a crow.

Hi all, and welcome back to Flashes of Inspiration, my bi-weekly flash fiction contest here at The Fine-toothed Comb. It’s been a busy week for me. Right now I’m ploughing my way through several short stories and a chunky novel, all for structural review. A convention has been announced, which I’ll be taking part in in various different panelly and workshoppy ways like some kind of pro. Oh, and I’m gradually losing the war against yoghurt. (Don’t ask.)

Anyway, enough about me. This is my forum for bringing creative people together in friendly competition. All I’m after is 400 words of imaginative prose or poetry, using the above image for inspiration. Literal interpretations are fine, as are figurative, tonal, and thematic. Whatever floats your dream-boat. I’ve been setting some specific challenges of late to try to push my own writing a bit. This week, let’s try making our narratives sound like they were written in a bygone era.

In addition, I have 3 key words that must be used in your piece in some way, shape, or form. These are:

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Flashes of inspiration #12 – Entry

Writing prompt: Horse & rider racing. Dazzling sunlight. Classical architecture.

‘Dim ond fi,’ as they say in these parts. Only me this time, but I enjoyed the challenge. It feels good to be back in the saddle, so to speak. So what have I got here? A little vignette, flinging us back to past days of glory and tragedy, swords, sandals, and beating hooves. It didn’t quite do all that I’d hoped but I’m content with it.

From next week I’ll be getting some signal-boosting assistance from my good friends at the Ginger Nuts of Horror, so hopefully we’ll start seeing a bit more company and competition around here. I’m happy to keep plugging away for my own satisfaction but the frisson of competition definitely adds something. It drives us to do better each time, and I think it sharpens the mind, makes us more aware of the power and significance of each word, each line.

Anyway, here’s my nugget of creativity for this week…

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Flashes of inspiration #12 – Challenge

Writing prompt: Horse & rider racing. Dazzling sunlight. Classical architecture.

Welcome back to Flashes of Inspiration, your (ahem) bi-weekly flash fiction competition. It’s been a bit of a busy time at The Fine-toothed Comb of late – both professionally and personally – so my apologies for keeping you waiting so long. I’ve crossed countries to see a cousin get married, attended the WorldCon in Dublin, had a teensy bit of a breakdown with regards to the day-job, and recovered myself at a pretty magical music festival. I’m back in the saddle now and raring to go again, hence the ever-so-appropriate image up top to help inspire our next round of creativity.

Forgotten how this works? It’s simple. You have 400 words to play with, an image to give you a sense of meaning, tone, action (or whatever), and 3 key words that you must use in the text somewhere. (Variants of the words are acceptable, so long as the root remains.) Confused? Frazzled? It’s just a bit of fun. Don’t sweat it.

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Flashes of inspiration #11 – Entries

Writing prompt: Young boy floating in a lake which reflects the cosmos.

A quiet one this week, just the two of us. It’s still working though, still getting me writing regularly instead of just thinking about maybe writing something one day. I’ve just had FB memories popping up today reminding me of one of the books I’ve actually nurtured from conception to reality, so that’s a boost for me too. Proves we can actually do something if we set out with determination and follow things through all the way. Anyway, enough bunkum from me. Here are this week’s entries for Flashes of Inspiration.

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Flashes of inspiration #11 – Challenge

Writing prompt: Young boy floating in a lake which reflects the cosmos.

Welcome once more to Flashes of Inspiration, my bi-weekly flash fiction contest. We’ve had 10 games of free-play, and it’s been loads of fun, but I think it’s time to get a little more challenging. For the next 10 contests, I’ll be pushing out of my comfort zone and hopefully dragging you lot with me. Why? Well, it’s all good exercise. Stretching different writing muscles and so on.

So, this first challenge is to find a new perspective. Flipping expectations. Same rules as ever: 400 words, 1 picture to help inspire and 3 key words to be included in some way…

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Into The Great Western Woods (Unstoppable Authors)

The Great Western Woods podcast logo.

Angeline Trevena: an unstoppable author

Hi folks, there’s no flash fiction contest this week, so instead let me introduce you to a good friend of mine, Angeline Trevena. She’s an author, a podcaster, and an all round good egg. If you’re at EdgeLit this weekend there’s a high chance you’ll get to meet her. Tell you what, why don’t I shut up and let her tell you why that’d be a great thing to do? Over to you, Angeline.

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Flashes of inspiration #10 – Entries

Writing prompt: Young boy adrift in a stormy sea, standing in an upturned umbrella.

The lightning has struck and here we are again, caught in the flash. A few more entries this time round. Glad I pushed the boat out one more time after last week’s wee wobble. You’ll recall there’s a prize up for grabs this time round – a copy of This Twisted Earth. Well stuff it, you’re all winners. A copy of the book will be winging its way to each of our entrants this week. Thank you for joining me. I’m thinking of shaking things up a bit for the next 10 contests. Similar set-ups but with some specific targets, encouraging us to flex some different writing muscles. Until then, why not have a read of this week’s entries?

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Flashes of inspiration #10 – Challenge (Take 2)

Writing prompt: Young boy adrift in a stormy sea, standing in an upturned umbrella.

EDIT: (ahem…)

Morning all, and welcome back to The Fine-toothed Comb. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed setting these creative challenges. I hope you’re getting something out of them too. You’ll be happy to know that this isn’t taking the place of my editing work – I’ve been feverishly working on a novella for Horrific Tales, an adventure game-book for a comic-book creator’s Patreon, and a couple of novellas expanding on elements from my Twisted Earth anthology. (EDIT: No idea what that is? I’ve written a little bit about it here.) With several customers now pre-paying for books to be edited later on this year, it’s proving to be a busy one! But enough about me. Let’s get on with the contest.

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