Day 20 – Premee Mohamed Has A Question

The Prompt

Premee Mohammed dug into her a short story stash of ideas to share one with us.

‘Superheroes, community service/non-jail punishment for crime, a secret society. 

In a world where superpowers are real, a convicted criminal is spared a prison term… If he agrees to do community service, enforced by an unknown league of incognito superheroes. But how can he skip town while he’s always under their surveillance?”

After our recent podcast episode we discussed this prompt. She suggested that a short story is “an answered question”. This is an insight that REALLY helped me, as I thought about how to start, and end, short stories.

This is raw from the from the index card and I asked Premee to tell us how she would take something like this, a note, and start to think about turning it into a story.

The initial phrase that I sent is a setting or a premise, rather than a plot; it’s the setup. 

I would probably start by trying to figure out who might be involved—a reasonable number of people for a short story—and how they could conflict with each other, or how their needs could conflict with each other. 

I’d make sure I set up some decision points to answer. The question should be set up at the start, you know, because like a short story is really an answered question, right?

I find it useful to have that question at the start instead of having it develop sort of midway through, because then the whole story can be guided by that.

Premee Mohamed

The Author

Premee Mohamed is an Indo-Caribbean scientist and speculative fiction writer based in Canada. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of venues and her debut novel, ‘Beneath the Rising,’ came out from Solaris Books in March 2020. She can be found on Twitter at @premeesaurus.

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