xwhy t1_j85itzv wrote

I wanted to know if I was repeating or favoring any names. Possibly I am in the throwaway characters. There were too many to catalogue. Oddly, my most used name was Martinez, which I used twice, both scifi, but at least a century apart.

I need to add more info about the main characters, and the races (particularly aliens). I have two totally different races from the same place, but it's okay because I only listed the star, so they could be from different planets there.


xwhy t1_j8564mo wrote

Christopher from Brooklyn, NY, aka owner of r/xwhy.

This is an interesting question because I just put together a Character Database (actually just a spreadsheet) of about 55 flash and short stories I've written in the past 5 or 6 years.

One thing that I found odd was that a lot of characters, particularly in first-person flash, didn't have names or nicknames. I didn't have a way to work it in. In a couple of them, that loss of identity was an advantage, but in others, I started to feel like something was missing.

Looking at my Submissions Database, the last story I created had a main character named Stephen (no last name) who lost time, coming aware as he was walking down his stairs toward the kitchen, only to discover a strange woman named Lorelle waiting for him. And there were a couple more people (or beings) in there.

I have a collection of 30 stories (included in the 55 mentioned above) sitting with an editor, there are a quite a lot of good characters in that one. Two favorites would be a devil and an angel (the devil has better lines, sadly). And there's a smooth-talking car salesman whose a hoot. I run the gamut of genres, but I'm not sure how many of those characters I'd have a beer with.

Pick a genre, ask me about a character I created for it. I'll say what I can without giving too much away.


xwhy OP t1_j6ktakr wrote

Thanks for writing. If I have any critique at all, it's that you stayed too close to the prompt (I know, usually it's the opposite people complain about). Don't be afraid to kick it up a notch, add it some more details of your own.


xwhy OP t1_j6keewq wrote

I was going to add that some of the alien visitors want to build a shrine on your lawn, but the title was getting too long, and that was a little too specific.


xwhy t1_j6bfbvh wrote

I have so many ideas and yet I don't know that any of them could support a novel length story -- even one of 200 pages, when everything seems to be 300 or more plus sequels.

And I my writing is improving, I'm realizing that some just how bad some of those earlier attempts were. I posted a longer story on Archive of Our Own, but I laugh at it. And cringe, too.


xwhy t1_j6bf0m0 wrote

I attribute a rejection for one story with getting a different story published in a different market. It was a flash story, third person. I switched POV characters in the middle for a scene and switched back. It gave the editor whiplash. I didn't realize that this was such a no-no in short fiction. I thought it was one of the benefits of using third person instead of first. (It is not.)

Anyway, I rewrote my Portrait of a Lady Vampire twice, once making the artist the POV person before realizing, Nope, it's the Lady Vampire's story and wrote it again. Daily Science Fiction bought it. They wouldn't have if I hadn't fixed it.


xwhy t1_j6beiz4 wrote

This is an easier question for my answer!

Backstory #1 (feel free to skip): I had my first story published in 1988 in Autoduel Quarterly (Steve Jackson Games). This led to a couple of gaming articles and a fiction fanize, ending with cowriting GURPS Autoduel 2nd edtion.... And then Life happens: kids, out of work, new profession, schools, starting everything over.

I didn't realize how well I had it before then. Skip ahead a few years...

Backstory #2 (feel free to skip): for many years, I used to go to Lunacon in Rye, NY, which was New York's longest running SF con (over 50 years, and I was at 25+ of them). I "knew" many people up there but not as well as I should have after this time. A writer named C. J. Henderson passed away and there was a memorial/party in his honor at his house. His wife hope for a big showing... He lived a mile from my house, so I went. Talked to people, fanboyed a little... Talked to an editor

TL/DR: I checked the editor's website and there was a flash fiction contest. I entered it and tied for first place (won a free ebook). That got me going again, and over the next year or so, I won a couple more times. My one setback was finding out that one month toward the end, I was the only entrant, but she would've canceled if she didn't like it.

This snowballed into my getting a flash fiction collection published by them. At the same time, I started doing quite a few more prompts here, which may or may not, get turned into another book of stories by the same editor.

Either way, I'm moving forward. I have a bunch of stories circulating, and a couple have gotten an extra sentence or two in the rejection letter. But sadly, mostly rejection letters.

Last year (2022) was a down year for me, and I want to pick it up again this year.

-- If you're still reading, please check out some of my stories on r/xwhy, and leave any feedback (there, here, wherever).


xwhy OP t1_j5th3ey wrote

I was stuck between stations with part 1 on my screen and no signal, asking myself "Is there a Part 2? There has to be a part 2!"

I'm glad there was a part 2. You have the beginning of something good here. Thanks for writing!


xwhy t1_j2e6v8n wrote

Scene 2

The moon attended to me as I strode down the street toward the town proper. It was nearly full, but not full enough to bring trouble. Just an imposing shadow on the path before me.

With the pub ruled out, thoughts turned to the movie theater and the nearby diner a few blocks away. A few stragglers could be picked off after the late show let out. And if my timing was off, there was always the hill over the lake where lovers parked, but again timing would be an issue where virginity is concerned.

No sooner had I had that notion than I came upon a car parked by the curb with fogged windows. The leafless branches of an oak tree blocked scant lamplight, and cast serpentine patterns across the hood. It was easy enough to make out the silhouettes of two young lovers who couldn't wait to get to the top of the hill.

Pausing a moment to ponder if I'd gotten lucky myself, I observed the young man's hand roam with purpose. The young lady did not object, but rather put her head back and moan. All things considered, these two were not likely to satisfy Guinevere or the baby.

Unfortunately, my deliberations lasted too long. Ere I could usher myself away, the young lady's eye opened and spotted me. She muttered an oath and pushed the boy away and herself to the far door. She adjusted herself with one hand and pointed at me with the other.

Could I blush, my face would be crimson instead of ashen. That, along with my outfit, likely gave away my true nature.

The young man turned toward me with a scream on his lips. It died there in horror. He reached into his shirt and pulled out a crucifix on a gold chain. Even though the car door, I could feel a slight repulsion, but it was tempered by the fact that his Faith was ebbing in this lustful moment.

Bravely or foolishly, he rolled down the window so he could hold the cross higher and closer to me. I took a step back for show.

"Forgive me, young squire. You are not whom I'm looking for."

The girl cursed at me.

Something in the air, a scent, an odor, struck me. I leaned over and took another look at the young woman.

"Before I leave you, my good man, permit me a word of advice. Do not let that young lady scratch you like that tomorrow night. You will regret it."

Her petite nose curled up and she was mad enough to spit. When I thought her about to attack, I pulled the handle of my walking stick to reveal two inches of the silver blade within. She quickly settled back down.

"Good night, then," I said, before conducting myself away.


end of scene 2

I have an idea where I want to get to. I just have to get there.


xwhy t1_j2djbzd wrote

"Magnus!" The voice was music to the ears, and as sweet as freshly dripped honey. The repetition of my name was closer to a snarling reptile.

"Magnus!!" my otherwise loving wife spat. "Attend to me!"

With a mournful sound, I entered the parlor to find Guinevere lying on the divan. The mother-to-be was four months along, with a pronounced bump, unusual to vampire kind. Her evening sickness had morphed to cravings, and I would be on call and in demand until our cursed event, likely during the Buck Moon in July. That assumes birth for vampires follows the tradition human schedule. It's been a few hundred years, so who is to say?

"Yes, my sweet," I said, as I bowed my head in her direction.

"Don't, 'my sweet' me, Magnus! You're why I'm in this condition."

On this, I could be certain. The only other challenge for my lover's heart occurred when it still beat and quickened at my touch. He perished at my hand, but not before he bit Guinevere, who later came to me from her grave.

"Magnus, I require the blood of a virgin."

I sighed. "Darling, where am I to find a virgin at this time of night? They're all in bed. In their homes. Unlikely to welcome me in."

"Your baby wants the blood of a virgin. And not one of the drunken losers you drag from the pub. The baby doesn't need idiot blood."

I adjusted my old cloak upon my shoulders. Guinevere had my new one wadded up beneath her legs, as if that would increase circulation. I dared not argue the point.

"How about the blood of a lamb with virgin wool?"


"There are many farms nearby to select from..."


The severe look on her face whispered the repercussions should she state my name for a third time.

"Yes, dear." Drawing up my cloak about me, I withdrew from the parlor and the old family mansion we shared. As I trod down the slabs of slate in the front walk, it occurred to me that we would be soon be a family. This errand was for the child, and I should be happy to complete it.

Still, as I closed the gate behind me, I decided to walk in the moonlight rather than take to the skies. More time to reflect on the changes death brings. And also time to figure where to find a non-pub virgin. I didn't know if she'd recognize lamb's blood if I bottled it. It was probably better not to chance it.


More stories at r/xwhy

Edit: added "bit".


xwhy t1_iyeyv3u wrote

One thing or another all afternoon. I have the idea of a story in my head and a few of the sword quips (but they'll have to write themselves as the story progresses). Hopefully I'll have something before the evening is out (EST).


xwhy t1_iydq6e3 wrote


xwhy t1_ixwbj8x wrote

Jump in. Worst that happens is it'll languish at 1 vote. I had some of those.

I'd forgotten about some of those early constrained writing prompts I'd done until I requested my data. I got a laugh out of them now. Now much traction then. Problem is that I can't do anything with them. Even if I made a book of prompts, people care about the story in the finish product, not "hey, look at this crazy story that doesn't repeat a word or use the word 'the'!"


xwhy t1_ixwaaur wrote

Greetings! This is u/xwhy, and many of my prompts appear in r/xwhy. I also have a book of flash fiction "In A Flash 2020" from eSpec Books under the name Christopher J. Burke available on Amazon. Twenty flash stories and a few of them started life as prompts from this board. I also have three flash pieces in their anthology "Devilish & Divine", two of which were inspired by prompts here.

(Note that at most one of those stories might even shown up here in some form or other. Most were written after the prompts fell into obscurity, so I didn't "waste" them.)

Favorite prompts are hard to pin down. I'm all over the map. Of my published stories, there are no Supers pieces, but if I have a followup, there will be a bunch because a bunch of them just clicked. I have written a few time travel pieces, but those start to get repetitive. And I seem to like fantasy or fantasy elements in a modern story just because I get to make the rules, and I might not know the science rules.

There are times that when I think I've clicked so well with a prompt but it goes nowhere (sometimes the prompt has no votes and sometimes the prompt and other responses take off but none languishes). But if I looked at my top 5 stories by votes, I'd wager at least 2 would be head-scratchers, meaning I didn't think them to be among my greatest work.

I do like the chance to be silly, so I can blow off a little steam, but I don't need the silliness spelled out in the prompt. I can find the silliness, whether it's three hobbits in a trenchcoat, or a guy finding a lamp on the beach and the three genies inside turn out to be a bit stooge-ish (that last-part was not part of the prompt).

One of my favorite stories in a soon-to-be (I hope, I hope) collection is about a demon hiding an angel in hell ... I totally misread the prompt, but I went with it anyway.

As I tell writers who reply to my prompts: a prompt takes you where a prompt takes you. It's a starting point.

Anyway, I'm rambling and this is turning into a short story of its own, so I'll point to r/xwhy again and mention that comments are always welcome. And, hopefully, updates will be coming soon, but my job has been keeping me busy, and blocking reddit. Sigh. Makes it difficult.