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Shawn Scarber
Writer / App Developer / Human
Writer / App Developer / Human

Shawn's posts

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My latest published short story on Strange Horizons.

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This is a tie-in story to Beasts of Tabat. I hope you like it.

Plus there's a giveaway for a signed copy you can enter. :)

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Read a free story set in Tabat plus enter a giveaway for a copy of my debut novel. 

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It's a book birthday for me today. You can read my short story and a number of other great short stories in The Novel Fox: Anthology 1. 


Anthology I, The Novel Fox's first published anthology, features eight science fiction and fantasy short stories by authors Dominic Dulley, Gerri Leen, T.D. Edge, Rati Mehrotra, Shawn Scarber, Ernesto Pavan, Peter White, and Shane Halbach. With stories ranging from Paying Old Debts, about a thoughtful sex robot assassin, to A Wand's Tale, chronicling the short life of a sentient magic wand, to Subsidence, which includes a horrific golf hazard, the stories of Anthology I are riveting from beginning to end. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did."

The Amazon Download is free for the next three days, so get it while you can. 

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This week on Writing Excuses, we’re kicking off a new structure, a masterclass in fiction. Here, I’ll let you read the description. Season 10 begins! We wanted to do something different this year. Something special. As we brainstormed we kept returning to…

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My latest publication!

Right-sizing a short story.

For some of us, this is a constant challenge. I tend to think of stories that go long. I'm more of a novella writer than a short story writer. Last year I made a number of attempts to get myself down to the 3-4k size.

I was never successful. Most of my stories came in around 5-8k. That's even with cutting.

I now know what to blame. I blame the normal skeleton plot structure taught to so many writers who want to write short fiction. If you're not familiar with that structure, well here it is:

A character encounters a problem, she tries three times to overcome the problem, and on the third attempt she either fails or succeeds.

Here's where I tend to have a problem with this plot structure and the stories that result from it. 1) I don't actually read many stories that follow this pattern. 2) There isn't any mention of character growth, unless that is inherent in the problem solving, but that's not really apparent. 3) there's not much there that explicitly says to me that this is fitting for my genre.

In other words, I think it's pretty useless.

Here's something I do like, though.

A character faces her greatest fear, a fear so terrible she's ashamed of it and doesn't want anyone to know about it. She must face this fear and sacrifice something to overcome it, if she fails to overcome it she will be hardened and forever on the road to death.

A character must go directly to their own personal hell and they must work their way out, or remain there forever.

This frees me from the tyranny of that stupid little plot. Now I can make it as long or as short as the fear requires.

I've been brainstorming with this idea all evening and I've already come up with three or four good concepts that easily fit in the 2-4k lengths.

Other tricks, I've tried to make the fear very personal. And I'm using fantasy images as prompts to explore possible fears. 
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