Home, Like Dying Embers is a weekly – fortnightly story series and bit of an experiment in self discipline. One of the problems many writers face is the inability to finish what they begin, including me. And while I don’t believe in lumping all your stories onto your blog, I do believe in sprinkling them out like fairy dust … let them exist … breathe or eventually splutter and die. Live and learn. But let them exist. Another reason I began this story is to play with prose. You can map out a story (called plotting and not overly recommended) or you can let your characters follow their feet. This is what Home, Like Embers is all about, seeing where my characters will go next; inspired by a recent writing workshop with the wonderful Claire Keegan. Some of the characters are also based on my experiences while living in Berlin, and they are rarely exaggerated, merely reshaped. The story begins with Hannah and her life in Berlin as she decides to return a family photograph to her dying father. I hope you enjoy this series. – Jakob
My short story ‘One in a Thousand’ received Third Place in Issue #32 for On the Premises. Their prompt was: We challenged contestants to write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which a character (not necessarily the main character, but one important to the story) almost dies.
In the end they received 377 contest entries and chose six stories for prizes.
This piece was originally planned to be my creative submission for a literacy unit: Reading, Writing & Criticism, but was born out of a lecture prompt: write about a near-miss event (something that could’ve been much worse). Pay attention to sensory detail.
During the lecture I decided to write about an experience where I almost had a biking accident in wet weather. I decided to approach the first part of the exercise from a realistic perspective; simply writing what happened from a first person perspective in present tense. I decided on present tense for its feeling of urgency/immediacy, as this was my memory of the near-accident. The next part of the exercise was to change the perspective. For this I decided to write from the perspective of an imaginary onlooker, and decided to also keep this in first person; something I had never attempted before (writing two, first person perspectives in a single narrative). I later decided to complete the piece by experimenting with these multiple angles in a fragmented edit. The end version isn’t 100% linear, as I wanted the reader to experience the near-miss drama (and perhaps doom) from the onlookers perspective, thereby creating more suspense with this back and forth exchange. I have attempted to separate the perspectives by using a back-slash for the onlooker and a forward-slash for the main protagonist.