A Prologue I Wrote AND Short Story Writing Tips From Author Joe Bunting

Last week I was in the shower reminiscing about the psychological commentary by Carl Jung on the Tibetan Book of The Dead. When all of a sudden, I got an urge and inspiration for a prologue to a story I came up with that’s completely unrelated to CJ’s commentary (or maybe it will be?).

Goes to show you that reading begets writing.

Here is a rough draft of the synopsis of the main story I’m writing:

“A rouge military admiral and his army of dissidents turned cultists, are searching the galaxy for ancient alien tech that can control time travel. Everette and Lino are two brothers stuck on a dangerous planet, wishing to escape. When their father goes missing, they receive a cryptic message telling them not to come looking. But of course, they do. And in the process unravel a plot to reverse the Big Bang.”

The prologue just poured out of me while sitting on the couch. I showed my girlfriend after, “Did you write all that right now?” She asked. Heck yes I did.

AUDIO: I recorded my self reading the prologue today, here have a listen!

You can also read the prologue here:

Let’s Write a Short Story by Joe Bunting


As a newbie wannabe sci-fi writer, reading a ton of books is key to keeping up with your craft.

Fiction such as Three Body Problem and The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu or Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. One book series is hard sci-fi with deep description and a focus on scientific accuracy and written in third person. And the other, while scientific, is written in first person and sometimes uses humour to keep it not-so-serious, but interesting.

Non-fiction such as Probable Impossibilities by Alan Lightman, Alchemy by Rory Sutherland, and Let’s Write a Short Story by Joe Bunting. One book about infinity and nothingness. Another book about the hidden power of the “psycho-logic” which is our parallel operating system of emotion. Finally, a book about how to write short stories.

That third non-fiction book, How to Write a Short Story by Joe Bunting is a great simple, direct language ‘how-to’ for writing.

Here are three different definition for a short story:

“A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.” Another way to define story is, a character who has a problem, fails repeatedly at solving that problem, and then either succeeds or fails at solving it. A third definition is, a character who experiences an event that changes her forever.”

And here are five parts that make up a good short story, according to Joe:

  1. A character
  2. Desire + A Decision
  3. Conflict
  4. Change
  5. Resolution

Here are those step broken down from the book (link to Joe’s book here):

A Character – William Faulkner said about writing stories, “It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” Stories are about people, not ideas, not even events. If you’re not writing about a person, you’re not writing a short story.”

Desire + A Decision – Your characters must want something (or not want something), preferably something great. But more than that, they must be willing to take action to get what they want. Characters who idly watch their lives go by are not protagonists. They are background characters. Does your protagonist make a decision?”

Conflict – Good stories have powerful bad guys, whether the bad guy is external: a person, a group of people, or nature; or internal: a belief or side of the protagonist’s personality.”

Change – Why do you need conflict? Because people only change when they experience pain, and all stories involve transformation. Joy, unfortunately, is a lousy teacher. Don’t be nice to your characters. It won’t help your story. Pain creates transformation.”

Resolution – Do your characters solve their problems or do they fail? Do they get what they want or not? You need to show this. Don’t end your story too soon. Sit with your characters while they enjoy their success or wallow in their failure for a moment. Editors say bad endings are one of the biggest reasons they reject stories. Readers need resolution.”

I hope these were useful tips and tricks with some inspiration for the aspirational sci-fi writer.

And for the new sci-fi writers out there, feel free to reach out to me via this blog or on Twitter – and we can share ideas and inspire for more writing!

“I’m sorry, Mr.Perry,” Dr. Russell said.
“I don’t want to seem unconcerned. But it’s really not a problem.
Even on Earth, testicular cancer is easily treatable, particularly in the early stages, which is the case here.
At the very worst, you’d lose the testicle, but that’s not a significant setback.”
“Unless you happen to own the testicles.” I growled.

-Mr. Perry (from Old Man’s War by John Scalzi)
“Old Man’s War” book one cover, purchase book here https://www.amazon.com/dp/0765348276/




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