Category Archives: Short Stories

Built to Last

I was involved recently in a project called 26 for Norwich, in which 26 writers from 26.org.uk teamed up with 26 students and graduates from UEA to research 26 different writers from Norwich. I worked with Jane Chittenden to research Mary Mann, a writer who is criminally under-appreciated.  CRIMINALLY. Someone needs to be arrested. Jane wrote about her, and you can read that here.

I wrote a story inspired by Mary Mann and the time Jane and I spent in the archives in Norwich looking through her old letters, photos and manuscripts. Of course, as Mann wrote stories about rural Norfolk life around 1890-1920, based on the stories of people who lived around her, mainly poverty-stricken farmers, I decided to write a sci-fi story.

You can read it on the website for the project, along with loads of other stuff inspired by writers from Julian of Norwich to Ian McEwan.

It’s called Built to Last, have a look here.

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Call for Fiction Excerpts Submissions!

E.J. Runyon's Author Blog

After this July’s release of my non-fiction ‘Tell Me (How to Write) a Story, the next book I’m working on is going to be a collection of excerpts from novices, in first draft, which I’ll edit into first revision and last revision samples, coaching as we go through the excerpts.

I’m titling it ‘Revision for Beginners’ and I’m calling for submissions of first draft excerpts. I expect a publication date of mid 2014.

I’m looking for any 200 words from your Work In Progress.CallForSubmission

I am NOT looking for wonderfully polished excerpts.

The goal is to have your excerpt help others learn the art of revision.

I’ll be selecting 20 excerpts, and I’ll be editing them to a first pass stage, and then onto a further round of edits.

Each round is accompanied with coaching info and the how & why the…

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First Encounter [First Draft]

My Gran gave me her old typewriter a while ago and I finally got round to writing a whole story on it. It’s actually a really good way to write because you can’t go back and edit mistakes or things you’d like to change. Instead you just have to keep on writing. I think the sound might help me focus, too, though it’s possibly a bit irritating for my housemates…

This is the first draft, straight from the typewriter (needing to write everything up again on a computer is a definite disadvantage of typewriters) except for a few corrected typos. It needs a fair bit of work still, as you will see, but I think you might enjoy it anyway.

In other news, one of my 50-word stories has been published on EveryWritersResource.com. You can have a look here.

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First Encounter

‘My first encounter with the inscrutable power of the divine happened one Sunday afternoon as I was making a grilled cheese sandwich. Before that day I had never been a particularly pious person, though I did go to church every week, and was not long back from the morning service that fateful afternoon.’ Mrs Claire Timpson pauses for a moment and looks around the room. Half a dozen tables are laid out in the community hall with tea and biscuits. ‘Yes, so… I removed the sandwich from the grill and sprinkled it with Lea and Perrins’ Sauce, just as I usually do. On second consideration it looked like the sandwich could do with a bit longer under the grill so I put it back in.’ Continue reading


Today [Version 2]

This is the latest draft of ‘Today’, a story I uploaded a little while ago. You can see the original here. I’m going to send this to a short story competition, though I don’t know which one yet.

Let me know what you think, and if you’ve read the first version then let I’d love to know if you think this one is an improvement!

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Today [Version 2]

‘You know, this morning has been weird,’ Don says, sitting at the bar.

‘Yeah? How so?’ the barman asks.

‘Seeing all these places I know. They look different today.’ Don smiles as if he has a secret he wants to tell.

‘Right. You’re in a good mood,’ the barman says.

‘Oh I am. I’ll tell you why‒’

‘Can I get you anything first?’

‘Yeah. Wait, what’s the time?’ Don checks his watch. ‘Eleven. Bit early for a drink. Anyway.’ Don doesn’t speak for a moment. ‘Do you know what the date is?’

‘Saturday the 21st of May.’ Continue reading


Today [Version 1]

Well it’s been far too long since my last update, but I like this one, so it might make up for that. I’m actually rewriting it at the moment, though, as there’s room for improvement. I’ll post version two when it’s done. Don’t let that put you off reading this version, though!

Any suggestions for a better title are welcome 🙂

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Today

Waking up this morning was different to how it usually is. Instead of yawning and stretching and stumbling over to the shower I woke up instantly. As soon as I sat up a thought that had been lying in wait all night ambushed me.

Rapture.

The word dominated my mind and in light of it I could hardly believe I’d been asleep at all. Had I really been wasting my last day on Earth this way?

I looked at the clock and saw it was 7:00am. Seven hours gone. Well, there was no use in moping about that and, in any case, there’s no point spending your last day tired out. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy it properly.

I got up, dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. I passed my calendar on the way into the kitchen. It was all blank except for the word ‘Rapture’ written in blue biro on the twenty-first of October, 2011.

I had a bacon sandwich for breakfast: an excellent way to start this particular day. Afterwards I wondered if the Bible says something about not eating pork. It’s been a while since I’ve read it.

I kept my eyes on the calendar while I ate. I checked what the date was on my mobile to make sure I had the right day. I don’t have a job at the moment and it’s hard to keep track of the days without one. It is the right day of course.

I didn’t do the washing up. It feels good not to have to worry about that kind of thing. I just sat there and wondered how I should spend my day. I was in no hurry; hurrying would only spoil everything. Today was going to be a day of relaxed happiness. No fuss over anything.

I’ve been thinking about that, actually. Maybe it’s not a good idea to get lazy now. Then again, I think God probably wants us to enjoy our last hours on Earth.

I continued to look at the calendar and thought about today. You know how if you look at a word for too long it seems to lose any meaning? Or if you say it over and over? That didn’t happen. That scribbled word ‘Rapture’ was as real and as important as if had been carved in stone for Moses to read out. The kitchen blurred around it.

Anyway, I thought that maybe I should give away all of my possessions, as I won’t be needing them. But, then again, neither will anyone else. They’re not going to do anyone any good so I decided that I wasn’t going to waste my day piling up all my stuff on the lawn so that other people could help themselves.

I left the house without locking the door. Left it wide open in fact. If someone wanted my old TV or my wife’s photo albums or my thirty year old malt whisky then they could help themselves. I bought the whisky last month, after I’d had the dream, especially for today. It took a bit of willpower to save it for so long, but that morning I didn’t really feel like a drink. Not because I’m abstaining to save my soul or anything. I’ve decided that I’m not going to bother with those kinds of rules. Last day, who cares if I have a drink? I just thought, ‘I don’t need that today, thank you very much.’

It’s funny, but being so close to the end makes me feel pretty good. Continue reading


The End of the Season

Well here’s the whole story. I think I might rewrite it at some point and do it justice, as I don’t like it at the moment. The whole two-narrators and paranoia thing could have potential, though.

By the way, if you’re after something cheerful then try a different story!

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The End of the Season

Hello, and welcome to the latest instalment of Samuel’s story! We join Samuel as he sits typing on his computer. We’ll take a look at what he’s writing in a moment, but first I want to show you his room.

Frankly, it’s a tip; he hasn’t tidied anything for weeks. His clothes are thrown about and none of them look clean. They don’t smell clean, that’s for sure. There’s his bed in the corner, his wardrobe…

Oh! Hold on, he’s stopped typing. He’s just sitting there, looking out of the window at the city. I wonder what he’s thinking. He hasn’t been the same since he was fired from his job last week. If you don’t remember, the last time we were with Samuel he was deeply depressed. He’s more active now than he was, but he still hasn’t eaten or washed properly for some time. What’s he thinking? Maybe his computer will tell us something. Continue reading


It was a Dark and Stormy Night

 This is something I did a while ago and forgot about. Just an amusing little something from a Creative Writing Society workshop.

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It was a Dark and Stormy Night


It was a dark and stormy night.

More accurately, it was still a dark and stormy night.

‘All this tension is starting to get to me, you know,’ Dave told his boss.

‘What, after seventeen years your sturdy psychological defences are finally giving way?’

‘I think so. It’s just so damn ominous. So dark. And there’s that bush that I’m sure is moving closer to my bedroom window every night.’

‘They’ve been doing that forever and they never quite reach you. Surely you’ve worked that out by now?’ His boss was cutting some carrots with a knife that kept coming down disturbingly close to his fingertips. He wasn’t even looking as he sliced. ‘Anyway, storm or not, you need to water the garden.’ Continue reading


Dear Gertie

This is a short interior monologue I submitted in my second year. I got the idea from some postcards we looked at in a seminar. There’s not much to say about it, really…

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Dear Gertie

“Dear Gertie.” What to talk about first? “I do wish you wouldn’t use such a sarcastic tone of voice in your letters.” Yes I must mention that, it was positively beastly for her to write to her own mother in that tone, that postcard was practically greasy with insincerity. She needs to change her attitude and her tone is just the place she should start, never mind what the doctor says. I’m glad I didn’t show it to the children, what would they think? Convalescing indeed. Leaving them here so she can holiday by the sea, it’s deplorable, she needs to sort out her priorities. Continue reading


Band Name Generator

I submitted this story for my last Creative Writing deadline and got a decent mark, so I thought I’d upload it.

By the way, if you don’t mind giving me some feedback on my stories then please read AUTOMATON first, that story is for my next deadline. Thanks!

I entered a 50-word story competition last month (you can see my entries here) and ‘Newspaper Story’ was one of the winners! It’ll be published in the spring issue of Tremors magazine.

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Band Name Generator

‘Alright guys, go.’ Recording begins, the band’s first live take. Greg is on guitar and vocals, Paul on drums and Steve on bass. Clive is in the control room. Together they are Band Name Generator. Apart they are a shop assistant, a third-year music student, the award-winning manager and producer for Cover Version Records, and Steve.

Greg forgets the second verse and sings what Clive calls ‘hipster scat’, a mixture of vague mumbling and sighs. He also messes up his guitar solo and kicks Paul’s drum-kit in frustration.

‘Sorry,’ he says.

19th February 2112. Band Name Generator have recorded their first demo. Continue reading


AUTOMATON

I’m submitting this story for my coursework, but it still needs a bit of work. It could probably be a bit shorter, for one thing. Any suggestions on improvements, even if it’s just pointing out a typo, would be appreciated.

The formatting will be slightly different for the finished piece, as WordPress doesn’t have the same options as Word. The main change is that the letters and the word ‘AUTOMATON’ will be written in a typewriter font (unless everyone thinks that’s a bad idea).

Enjoy!

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 AUTOMATON

Dear Government Official,

She told me to tidy up and then she left. It makes no sense to me. In the context of a relationship, surely a bit of mess isn’t important?

This is Tim’s twelfth draft. He’s unsure how to address the letter and is yet to settle on something he likes. Still, ‘Dear Government Official’ beats draft eleven’s ‘Dear Mayor or Mayoress’.

I mention this because when Emily left I looked into my ’dump’ of a back garden. There’s a fair bit of stuff out there but not enough to justify her reaction. ’I can’t stand it any more’ she’d said.

It was sitting at the far end, by the shed, possibly the biggest discovery ever made in a back garden. I mean, this is really the kind of thing that overshadows a relationship in importance. It may change the world. I was wondering whether I should call Emily but then I saw it and forgot about that in an instant. Maybe that’s heartless, but I think you’ll understand.

He ought to write less about Emily and more about what he’s found; that’s what the government and the world will be interested in.

It’s sat among the washing machines and other odds and ends. I’ve no idea how long it might have been there. Continue reading