Every Monday, MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR focuses on the art and craft of writing, from Shannon’s perspective or that of guest authors. To catch up on all posts, check out the MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR portion of the website!
This week welcomes a guest post from author Kevin Paul Shaw Broden, on following characters around and discovering they may not go where you think, with focus on his experiences writing short stories.
DISCLAIMER: This content has been provided to MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR by the author, who is also Shannon Muir’s husband. No compensation was received. This information required by the Federal Trade Commission.
I like to follow people around.
No, not stalking people in real life, but following around the lives of my characters. Because they know far more about what’s going on than I do.
You can plan out a story in outline or premise form, detailing the plot and events don’t to the date and time, but it doesn’t come to life until you let your characters loose upon the field of battle.
Once you’ve let your characters loose, all you can do is chase after them with keyboard in hand typing away everything that they do in front of you.
Then when you least expect it, a small or even new, character will jump up and down on the sidelines demanding to play with the rest of the team
An example of this can be found in my short story NO EASY WAY TO DIE:
I had worked out my entire story, given my protagonist his instructions and sent him on his way; caught between two gangs of killers he had to keep someone alive and that meant keeping himself alive. He was heading on down the road and the story was doing just find until suddenly another character spoke up. He had a very minor part near the start of the story, and then I benched him, as far as I knew the character had died. Purpose served; time to get our protagonist to the finished line.
Yet this minor character came back from the dead and knocked on the door of the gang leaders. He soon was building himself up not only in the gang back also in my story. Soon he was a threat to our hero far greater than the gangs had ever been.
The story had been good, but when this small character stepped out on the playing field everything was thrown into chaos and yet when it was over I found him still standing and the story was many times greater than anything I had planned in advance.
If you let your characters freely play, you’ll find your story a lot more full of life than when you began its construction. Once that’s done, take a breath as your characters return to their corners, for it is now time for the hardest part. Cleaning up the mess they had made. Cleaning up after your characters is editing, rewriting, editing, and rewriting again. Sometimes your characters will have gone far out of bounds from where you intended the story to go so you have to reign them back in and send them back out with better instructions. Other times, your characters will yell at you that it wasn’t the right thing to do; they’ve got a better idea. Ideas far better than your own, listen to them. Keep them within the playground that is your story, but let them play.
About the Story Mentioned in this Guest Post, available as a stand-alone e-book:
Johnny Graves is a hired killer for the mob.
For the right money, he’ll kill anyone for his bosses.
Tonight he’s been given a new mark, but this time his orders are to keep the man alive at all costs.
Find out more in this 10,000 word short story.
Other short stories available from this author as stand-alone e-Books:
At the encouragement of his publisher, famous mystery writer Kent Bronwyn is a guest speaker at a comic book convention in San Diego, California. It has been a long tiring day and he is looking forward to sleeping on the train back to Los Angeles. Things don’t go as planned as he has missed the train he had a reserved ticket for and he now waits for the last train among hundreds of costumed convention-goers called Cosplayers. It’s like being in the midst of a four-color comic book come to life. Bronwyn enjoys watching them all interact, but he’s more interested in getting off his feet once the train arrives. Once aboard, he hardly has time to rest when one of his fellow passengers ends up murdered. With the encouragement of young fans of his mystery novels he reluctantly must solve the crime… which is no easy task as all the suspects are in costume, and no one is who they claim to be.
The first in the Kent Bronwyn mystery series, this story pays homage to the great comic book conventions of Southern California, the Cosplayers in attendance, and the crowded train they ride to go home.
After killing a prison guard, two convicts are on the run, and the vigilante known as the Masked Ghost is nowhere to be found. Margaret Randolph must once again become the Scarlet Spirit in order to capture them and save the life of her friend.
In this paranormal murder mystery short story that is a follow-up to the novel CLOCKWORK GENIE, Manning finds that the influence of the beautiful genie set free from a pocket watch didn’t end with that first adventure. Whitney wasn’t even supposed to be there when the bullet struck her chest. Detective Whitney Manning should be dead… but, somehow, she’s very much alive.
About the Author:
Kevin Paul Shaw Broden first fell in with the masks as a child while listening to old time radio and the adventures of Green Hornet, The Shadow, The Lone Ranger and many others. They were soon followed by the four-color heroes of comic books, not the heroes of the modern age, but those of the Golden Age. Roy Thomas’ run on All-Star Squadron introduced Kevin to heroes long past. It would be those heroes he would dream of and want to write about; all that led to his pursuit of a career in comic books. He took art courses throughout his education – and his first professional job was as a background artist in the early issues of SUPREME for Image Comics – only to discover that no matter the media, he was a storyteller at heart.
He would never be far from his first love, the masked heroes. For over fifteen years Kevin has been illustrating and co-writing (with Shannon Muir) the online comic book FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY which can be found at http://www.flying-glory.com about the granddaughter of a golden age heroine known as Flying Glory. He has also written for television animation, including the Japanese series MIDNIGHT HORROR SCHOOL. He is a member of the Animation Writers Caucus of the Writers Guild of America. Kevin also digitally paints book covers, not only for his own books, but for other authors, including the cover art for Pro Se Productions’ NEWSHOUNDS. In 2015, he also contributed artwork for LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION for Airship 27.
Kevin’s first novel, CLOCKWORK GENIE, was released in 2011, followed in 2012 by REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST, his homage to the golden age pulp heroes that got him started. In 2013, his work appeared in two anthologies from Pro Se Productions. In BLACK FEDORA, he wrote about the villainous Maestro Mechanic in “The Man Who Stole Manhattan”, and in NEWSHOUNDS printer’s ink mixes with blood in the tale “Stop The Presses!” He’s since followed this up releasing several short stories on his own, including “The Cop Who Wouldn’t Die” from the CLOCKWORK GENIE universe, “A Scarlet Spirit Tale: In the Clutches of Convicts” which expands the world of the MASKED GHOST, the stand-alone “No Easy Way to Die,” and introduced detective Kent Brodwyn in “Murder on the Cosplay Express”.
Twitter: @_maskedghost_ at http://www.twitter.com/_maskedghost_