Ten Tales of a Dark Tomorrow Blog Tour: Kevin Kuhn on Writing Short Stories

Short stories are hard. In less than 7,500 words or less, you have to set a scene or two, introduce characters, establish a plot (and maybe a bit of a theme), and find an ending that leaves a reader satisfied. In this post, I’m going to focus on character development in a short story.

Let’s start with some basics. First, this might be obvious, but limit your scenes and characters. You must strip down your plot to the bare necessity. What scenes are absolutely required to tell your story? How can I design my scene to have as few characters as possible? There is no room for information dumps about setting or character backstories. Start your story right in the middle of a key scene and use the action to give readers hints about the characters.

Here’s the real trick. Readers like to work! They like to make deductions, find connections, and fill in the blanks. It pulls them into the story and gets them invested. They need way less information than you might think to visualize characters and settings. However, you do need to give them something to work with – no white rooms (a scene where the setting is not described), or generic characters. Let me give an example:

The wrinkled, white-haired old man hooked his thumbs in the straps of his bib overalls.

It’s not exactly genius writing, but I’ll bet you have a mental image of this man already. You might even have a face associated with him, even through I only described his wrinkles. Just based on the facts that he’s old and wears bib overalls, you may have a voice associated with him.  Readers have thousands of mental images of various people in their heads. Often, they prefer to ‘pull up’ on of these mental images as the characters. The more detailed you are in your description, the less likely it is that they can use one of their own mental images. Save your descriptive writing to eloquently describe important scenery, or even better, exciting action.

You may have a huge, complex backstory about your character, that’s fine. It will help you stay true to their personality, motivation, and dialog. You don’t have to reveal most of that backstory, in fact, you shouldn’t. Think of it as an iceberg. You’re only showing a bit on the surface, but the reader will feel the support of everything below. Differentiate your characters through their actions and dialog. Never explain your character’s feelings or emotions through narration! That will remind the reader that it’s only a story and they just characters. You’ll lose the mental images in their head. Show it with their actions, reactions, and dialog. Make them consistent with their motives. Give them an easily recognized quirk or flaw that ties into the storyline. Maybe they have a fear of heights, or an obsessive love of chocolate, or maybe they like to show off a pretentious vocabulary. 

In summary, show your characters through their dialog and actions. Give the reader minimal, yet distinctive clues about their appearance. Distinguish them with their dialog and with flaws, quirks, or motives. In short story character development, less is more, but make the ‘less’ count!

 

Kevin Kuhn writes speculate fiction and is the author of an Amazon #1 Bestselling time travel novel. He has won multiple independent literary awards. He is a proud member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Kevin lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with his wife and three children.

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I’m thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Ten Tales of a Dark Tomorrow by Kevin A. Kuhn! Read on for more details, and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book plus a $15 Amazon Gift Card!

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Ten Tales of a Dark Tomorrow

Expected Publication Date: October 25, 2019

Genre: Speculative Fiction/ Sci-Fi

Ten speculative fiction stories inspired by the original Twilight Zone series, including cautionary tales, horror, science fiction, and more.

In the spirit of that iconic, timeless show, these mysterious and gripping narratives explore parallel worlds, faraway planets, dystopian societies, and unsettling reality.

• A toddler shifts through parallel worlds, changing into different versions of herself. What would a mother do for her daughter?
• A chef finds an alternate food source on a remote world. When the new chef arrives, will he be forced to reveal a horrific secret?
• A twelve-year-old Earth girl is randomly chosen to rule the galaxy. Why are galactic administrators so desperate to stop her?
• Humanity is on trial, annihilation at stake. Can an underdog alien lawyer save us?
• Time seems to stand still as a young boy bikes with his troubled friend. Is the friend causing this phenomenon—and what if he doesn’t stop it?

Explore space and time—and confront humanity’s deepest fears—with Ten Tales of a Dark Tomorrow.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

She says nothing, content to burrow into my chest. I look at the top of her head: thick blond hair, a line of pink scalp at her part. She’s wicked smart for her age, and I’m still trying to get used to that. The doctors have used words like gifted, genius, and prodigy. She plays piano pieces that most couldn’t master at any age. She can multiply three-digit numbers in her head instantly. She reads voraciously and beat me in chess the first time we played. People say she is a gift. I smile, but only I know what she is. She’s my child, but she isn’t—she’s a version, a duplicate.

Available Now

Amazon | Audible| Kobo | Nook

About the Author

B&W Kuhn

Kevin A. Kuhn is a proud member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. His first novel, Do You Realize?, won five independent literary awards and spent time as a number one Amazon best seller in four countries. He is also a retired technology executive who currently teaches at a major business school. Kevin lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, with his wife, Melinda, and their five kids—three human children and two schnoodles.

Kevin A. Kuhn | Twitter | Facebook

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Win a print copy of the book AND a $15 Amazon Gift Card! Click the link below to enter!

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Blog Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours

Blog Tour Schedule

December 9th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://rrbooktours.com

Crossroad Reviews (Spotlight) http://www.crossroadreviews.com

Scarlett Readz & Runz (Review) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

December 10th

Horror Tree (Guest Post) https://www.horrortree.com

Splashes into Books (Spotlight) http://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com

A Garden of Books (Review) http://agardenofbooks.com

December 11th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Guest Post) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

December 12th

Life’s a Novelty (Review) https://lifesanovelty.blogspot.com/

The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

December 13th

Turning the Pages (Review) https://turningthepagesonline.wordpress.com

Port Jerricho (Review) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com

Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com

I’m into Books (Spotlight) https://imintobooks.com

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

MasterClass Presents… David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor

MasterClass has a new course out for creators that you might be interested in checking out – “David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor.” Now, many of you might be familiar with Sedaris though he isn’t a fiction writer. The very fact that he doesn’t pen fiction is exactly why you might be interested in this one. We all know that a major bonus to add creativity to our writing is to draw inspiration from genres that we don’t write in, and David’s unique and entertaining writing style could easily be a key source in helping hone your craft.

Here is what you can expect from the class:

With regular pieces in The New Yorker, national tours, and appearances on NPR’s This American Life, David Sedaris is one of the most recognizable essayists writing today. He’s known for his wit, weirdness, satire, and serious humor, and his collections of personal essays—Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls—each became immediate bestsellers. He’s also the author of a New York Times–bestselling fable collection and has twice had his work included in “The Best American Essays” anthologies.

So far, more than 10 million copies of his books are in print around the world, and he’s been nominated for three Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word and Best Comedy Album. Now the writer Entertainment Weekly calls the “preeminent humorist of his generation” teaches you his tools for writing humor and his approach to the art of personal storytelling.

In David’s MasterClass, learn to turn everyday observations into stories with meaning, craft personal essays that resonate from beginning to end, and incorporate humor that not only gets a laugh but also connects with readers on a deeper level. Join David backstage as he workshops and perfects his public readings and find inspiration in his approach to publishing and the writer’s life. Find stories and inspiration all around you, hone your humor writing, and embrace the power of your personal perspective.

In this online class, you’ll learn about:
• Fine-tuning your observational skills
• Turning observations into stories
• Perfecting your opening line
• Writing with meaning
• Connecting with readers and live audiences
• Writing about family and friends
• Turning vignettes and diary entries into stories
• Tools for writing humor
• Getting the most out of public readings
• Creating and titling collected essays

You can check out a preview of the course in the video below:

If you’re interested in learning more, head over to MasterClass today!

Taking Submissions: Triangulation: Extinction

Deadline: February 29th, 2020
Payment: 3 cents per word
Theme: Extinction

Triangulation is open for submissions. We are Parsec Ink’s speculative fiction anthology, now in our 16th year. We’re looking for outstanding fantasy, science fiction, weird fiction, and speculative horror–from new and established writers. Take the theme and run with it. Tell us a story we won’t forget.

Theme: Triangulation: Extinction

Every day, another species creeps closer to extinction, often brought on by things out of their control. The world changes every time an insect, a rhino, a macaw ceases to exist. These changes are tangible. Tell us about them. Bring us stories of imposing threats, extraordinary creatures brought low, stories of those warriors who fight tooth and nail for their survival. What does extinction mean to you? We like our stories to be profound, relatable, poignant yet familiar. Tell a tale for the ages.

While we appreciate and value creative freedom, please note that this issue of Triangulation has a strict theme. We don’t want to read a hundred stories about dinosaurs and asteroids; we want gritty commentaries and hopeful ruminations. Last year’s issue, Dark Skies, wrestled with light pollution, and similarly, this issue addresses an equally as challenging—and real—topic. Let’s do it justice.

Submission Requirements

Submissions Open: December 1, 2019
Submissions Close: February 29, 2020

Word Count: We consider fiction up to 5,000 words, but the sweet spot is 3,000. There is no minimum word count. Stories over 5000 words will be rejected unread.

Genre: We accept science fiction, fantasy, and horror–and enjoy intelligent blends of the three. Stories without a speculative element will not be considered.

We do not accept reprints, multiple submissions, or simultaneous submissions. If we reject a story before the end of the reading period, feel free to send another.

We love creative interpretations of our themes, but we do require the stories to be a solid fit.

We run mature content only if we like the story and find the mature content to be integral to it.

We do not accept fanfic, even if it’s based in a fictional universe that has passed into the public domain.

Manuscript Format: Please use industry standard manuscript format. We’re not testing you or trying to make you jump through hoops, but we do want a manuscript that is easy for us to read. We reserve the right to reject a story because it did not adhere to our formatting guidelines.

We accept manuscripts in the following formats:

  •     .doc or .docx (MS Word)
  •     .rtf (Rich Text Format — generic document format that most word processors can create)

How We Choose

We are a meritocracy. New authors are as welcome as those with a laundry list of accomplishments. But it’s going to be the story that wins us over. Grab us by the lapels, drag us onto that plane, take us for the ride of our lives… but get us back on the ground safely and home in time for dinner.

We aim to read submissions as they are received. If a story doesn’t work for us, we reject it. If we think the story has great potential but isn’t quite there yet, we request a rewrite. The ones we love the most, we hold on to for further consideration, but we won’t keep you guessing: you’ll get an email. Next, the stories fight it out amongst themselves until we have our final lineup. At which time, final acceptances are sent out. It’s sort of like Enter the Dragon, but without the nunchucks. When a story is accepted, the changes we suggest will typically be minor and/or cosmetic.

Response: Final decisions are made by March 31st.

Eligibility: All writers, including those who are known or related to the editorial staff, can submit to Triangulation. That doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily get in, but we are happy to consider their work.

If Your Story Is Accepted

Compensation: We pay 3¢ per word. Payment will be either via PayPal or check.

Rights: We purchase North American serial rights, audio and electronic rights for the downloadable version(s). All subsidiary rights released upon publication.

How to Submit

Electronic submissions make our lives easier. Please upload your story via Submittable. If this is your first time using Submittable, you will need to create an account with them. Don’t worry: it’s free.

Via: Parsec Ink.

10 Awesome Christmas Gifts For Authors – 2019 Edition

Disclosure: Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article, we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.
It’s 2019 and we’ve got a fresh list of great items to get to the writers (and in some cases, readers) in your life! A nice mix of tools and fun, we can only hope that this list sparks an original idea to help cover the holidays this year. While I put this one together, a huge shout out to Kim Plasket who helped write up most of these on why we enjoyed them! Hurray for team work!
Handmade Leather Journals

I have to say, these are some amazingly well put together journals. If you’re looking for putting pen to paper on something unique, you have to take a look at what Soothi is putting out! Beautifully hand made, these are a great addition to any author’s toolkit who enjoys writing by hand.

Bracelets For Book Lovers


Inspirational bracelets adorned with quotes from classic authors. What better way to feel the energy of the muse than with words from William Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, & Mark Twain on your arm as you write your heart out.

These are high on the list of anyone who wants to feel some inspiration from those who walked this very path before.

Available on Amazon.

Do Not Disturb!


This is an absolute can’t miss! When you or a loved one need to take time out to get that all-important deadline covered, this sign will help! Simply place it on the door and it will give you as much free time to write that masterpiece as you need. Just don’t forget to eat

We’ve all been there, stuck with needing to crank out those words and everything wants to get in the way. Now, this simple solution should help filter out at least a couple of those distractions!

Available on Amazon.

A perfect gift for the writer in your life who may have appeared in Trembling With Fear or need the motivation to appear in a future installment! Also, a great read and something which directly supports the site! That’s right folks, we’re talking about all 3 installments of ‘Trembling With Fear’!
Trembling With Fear – Year 1
Trembling With Fear – Year 2
Trembling With Fear – More Tales From The Tree

The titles above are a direct link to all three installments for you to enjoy!

Coffee!

Drink Super Coffee - Grab N' Go Goodness.

Let’s be honest, most authors out there love drinking something. Tea, Coffee, or perhaps something stronger. This year I’m going to say coffee is the way to go and I’ve got one which I personally like while on the run. 10 grams of protein, only 80 calories, and, most importantly, caffeine! I’m a huge fan of the vanilla and caramel Espresso varieties and the hazelnut coffee as well. (Also lactose free, soy free, and gluten free for those who are interested.)

So if you or you’re favorite author might be interested head over to Kitu Super Coffee today!

Get Busy Writing!

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For those few times, you feel the dreaded writer’s block coming on. This 12×16 print is all you need to get those creative juices flowing once more. Conquer the dreaded writer’s block, allowing the creativity to flow once more as you draw inspiration from the words you see. This is the perfect gift for the writer who sometimes needs a little boost.

Available on Amazon.

You should never really finish learning and MasterClass is the perfect way to continue your education. Either from a one-off class from a favorite author to a full-on membership to see what some of the greatest creatives out there are reaching – MasterClass has you covered!

An Awesome New Notebook!

Custom notebooks for your writing friend! Specifically, a great example is the Night Owl Paper Goods notebooks. Not only are these high quality but the imagery on the front is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face! Maybe, not the best sentiment for writing horror but a nice change of pace for when you’re stuck and need to get some words down on paper.

Not only that, but you can feel good about the wood being used as Night Owl Paper Goods creates “Eco-friendly, sustainably harvested birch wood” notebooks.

A Styling Pencil Holder


A must-have for every writer. What better way to keep all your pens and pencils in one place. No more having to search them out when you have this stylish and affordable keepsake. The perfect gift for the beloved writer in your life. It fits for the lifestyle, is visually appealing, and practical!

Available on Amazon!

Nothing says that you love to write like Horror Tree Swag! That’s right folks, we’re doing a second promo of our own work here and you can snag some great shirts and more for the authors in your life!

If you’re looking to support some of the writers for Horror Tree or those who help on the site, we have a few suggestions there as well! (Don’t forget to leave them reviews folks!)

There you have it folks! A few solid ideas for the authors in your life (or things to add to your own wishlist.) Are we missing anything that you feel NEEDS to be included? Let us know in the comments below!

If you want more ideas, be sure to revisit our 2016 and 2018 editions.

Taking Submissions: Well Said, O Sheriff

Deadline: September 30th, 2020
Payment: Contributor’s copy and an original book cover
Note: I think I got to this call before it was fully formatted as some of the language in it is a bit awkward, unlike their previous call.
Theme: Western aspect mandatory, Science Fiction and Fantasy takes on this are quite welcome

Why are we doing this Anthology?

My father used to say Well said, O, Toothless One as one of those typical dad jokes.

When my dad for the second time with I knew I wanted to put something out into the world to celebrate my father. My dad is dyslexic like I am but he always supported me in my writing. I’m hoping he will get to see a few of these in the time he has left.

Those judging the entries will be my sister who is my editor and my mother who along with being my Alpha reader is also a writer herself. I will also be part of the judging process and along with my sister will edit the anthology.

When to submit?

Submissions are open from now to the 3oth of September 2020. on 11th November 2020.

What are we looking for?

The genre is loose but Science fiction or Fantasy would fit fine with what I’m looking for but I will accept other genres as long as it fits in with the tone of the Anthology. The theme for 2019 is westerns. in a typical wild west setting or in a new frontier.

If you can fit a nice guy winning and diversity those are things that appeal to me.

It will be my family who will the stories as we want to pick stories that either reflects our father or something that would amuse him. So dad jokes allowed. jokes encouraged.

Humour after in your piece.

Keep it PG 13. Swearing and sex can but . Gratuitous violence though action and adventure are perfectly acceptable.

word count anything under 10k is acceptable, though I won’t quibble if it goes over a .

I’m not a fan of present tense but I will accept it if it .

I like romance but keep it PG and no love triangles.

Author benefits and rights

You keep all rights. You can also submit already published work. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and you can publish elsewhere as well with no restrictions. If you gain a place in the you will get a paperback copy of the anthology. You can also order paperback copies at price. Each author featured will also get a book cover for any of their own books they wish to self-publish. For longer pieces 5K or more they will get two book covers. We only ask for non-exclusive rights to any story and also remember that once that you are giving up your first publishing rights and since this anthology isn’t offering actual you should keep that in mind. I am looking for reprints because of this, as reprints often pay little and it would be much better if you can get the best price for your story., a lot of work has gone into perfecting your craft.

Who will we accept submissions from?

As long as the story is primarily in English, pretty much anyone. The internet allows .

Submission requirements

  • Fiction up to 10k words though if it is we won’t quibble word count

  • We do not accept poetry or non-fiction

  • You can only submit one piece

  • Work must be original and you have the rights to it. must be your own story and you all rights to the story.

  • Unlike other places I want it single spaced 12pt Garamond with an indent at the start of a paragraph

  • A title and your name should be in the header

  • Email to [email protected] with the subject heading Anthology

  • No Fan Fiction

  • Include an Author Bio and a synopsis for your story

  • No PDF’s.

  • Do not put the story in the , instead have it as an attachment or shared as a link.

Other things to know

I will be the editor. I have an English degree from Auckland University and a diploma of proofreading and editing.

of your acceptance in October. If you don’t hear from us assume you .

This is not to solicit or sell you any other products. You will not get emails from us spamming you about our other services. EVER.

To check out our previous anthlogies please click on the image below.

Via: Reshwity Publishers.

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