My Writing Process and a New Short Story Publication!

My latest short story Fins is now available in the July 2022 Issue of Cosmic Horror Monthly.

Check out the AMAZING cover art by Jakub Jagoda!

Every writer has their own process, and Fins is a perfect example of mine. I’m not a plotter. I’m not a panster either. If pressed, I guess I’d say I fall somewhere in the middle, but that’s not really it either. My favorite approach to writing anything, from a short story to a full novel, is to figure out the broad-strokes emotional beats I want to hit (where do we start, how do we change, where do we end), find the voice, and then sit back and let the characters do the driving.

Fins came out of a writing prompt in my critique group, the aptly named “Blood-soaked Doodleslaves”. We were all challenged to write a story inspired by two random words, in this case “Shark” and “Reckless”. I’d just finished re-reading Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon by Thomas M. Myers and Michael P. Ghiglieri (PS – if you’re a fan of survival horror, disaster movies, and risk analysis (which, of course, I am) this is the book for you!) and the weird idea for Fins was born.

As always, I started writing long before I knew everything about the story. I knew where I wanted to set it, the mechanism behind the horror, and how I wanted it to end…but everything else was nebulous. And that was okay, becasue I also knew who was doing the talking.

For Fins, I decided on an MC who was, for lack of a better work, a complete asshole. Having established very little else about him, I dove head-first into that voice (woohoo for toxic masculinity) and started writing. As the MC navigated the (admittedly horrible) situation into which I’d thrown him, he told me about himself — his family, his friends, his history — and revealed a depth I’d never planned but totally embraced.

Of course, being a “voicer” means having to go back and connect the dots in later drafts, but I don’t mind at all. Learning about my characters and watching them come to life organically as I work is one of the incomparable joys of writing.

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