LibreOffice – Style Considerations

hieroglyphs
Photo by Krzysztof (Kriss) Szkurlatowski from FreeImages

Every modern word processing program comes with a feature, usually called ‘styles’, which allows you to control the look of your final document. Microsoft Word does. LibreOffice and OpenOffice do. I’d be surprised if there was a major program word processing program that doesn’t.

A style is a collection attributes, such as font, font size, indentation, alignment, colour, and many other attributes that describe an element in a document. The element can be a page, a character or set of characters, a paragraph, an image, and many other things. A style can be applied either by default, or by selecting an element and clicking on a list of available styles.

Sounds complex? It isn’t really. When you want to create a heading for example, you can type some text, select it, change the font type to make it bold, change the font to make it stand out, and increase the size. Or you could simply type the text and then apply one of the builtin Heading styles with a single click and everything is done for you.

I’m mostly concerned here with paragraph styles. That is, styles which apply to whole paragraphs, and not just single characters or words. In MS Word, LO Writer and other word processing programs, if you start typing a paragraph it will be formatted according to a default style. In MS Word I believe it is called “Normal”. In LibreOffice it is “Default Paragraph Style”. The current paragraph style is usually shown somewhere in the editing screen.

(In my text below I will refer to things in LO Writer terms, because that is what I use. But the concepts should apply to MS Word and probably other word processing programs too, even if the details are different.)

It is my strong belief that everything that affects the look and feel of a document should be achieved with styles, because it makes it so much easier to change things.

For instance, suppose you decided to make one of your paragraphs stand out. You could select the paragraph text and make it bold using the style toolbar at the top of your editor screen. That would work.

But several hours later and many pages later, you decide to also indent it. You have to search back through the document for it. Again you could use the on-screen tools to indent the paragraph. Again, that would work.

You return to end of your document, and create another paragraph, which you bold and indent. So far, so easy. But then, you decide that the bold paragraphs would look better in a different font size. Now you have two places to go to change the font and each time you create a bold paragraph, you need to bold it, indent it, and change the font to be consistent.

By the time that you have six or more bold paragraphs, and you want to change something else about them, you will find yourself flicking about in your document. And what if you miss one of the bold paragraphs? Your formatting is no longer consistent!

It would be a lot easier if you had created a “Bold Paragraph Style” (based on the “Default Paragraph Style” for example) the first time that you decided that you needed a bold paragraph. Then you could change all the occurrences of the bold paragraphs without needing to visit all of the occurrences individually. Just change the style!

Creating a new style is not hard. You don’t have to supply all the attributes. You base your new style on an existing one, and just change the things that you want to be different.

I would avoid changing the builtin styles. This is because every style except the “Default Paragraph Style” is based on another style, and all builtin styles are descendants of the “Default Paragraph Style”. In other words the style system is hierarchical, and if you change the “Default Paragraph Style”, any styles which inherits from it, directly or indirectly, may change.

I would not use “Default Paragraph Style” for ordinary text paragraphs, as it is the ancestor of all builtin style. Instead I would choose “Text Body” or one of the styles that inherit from it, and then the consequences are limited.

Since styles are arranged hierarchically, a style such as “Heading 1” for example inherits from the style “Heading”, which in turn inherits from the “Default Paragraph Style”. So some of the settings of “Header 1” come from “Heading” and some from way back in “Default Paragraph Style”.

This is all pretty straightforward and logical, but difficult to explain. The main lesson is that if you use styles, be really cautious about changing the builtin styles, as changing one style may affect any styles which inherit from it.

This is not a good reason to avoid styles as they can make life so much easier for you!

But what if you want all your documents to have the same formatting. The chapters of a book should ideally all look the same, so that when you combine them, it all looks neat and tidy.

You don’t have to modify the styles in each document that you create! That would be tedious and error prone. Instead you can take a document that is in the format that you require, and save it as a template. I’m not going to detail the process here, because there are a couple of ways of doing it in LibreOffice Writer, and that is almost certainly true in MS Word and other word processing programs too.

You can edit the template to remove all the text, if you wish, but the template will have all the necessary styles in it, and writing a new chapter will be easy, with just a click now and then to apply the styles!

One final point is that once you have created a template and are using it to create documents, then everything is not set in concrete. You can change the styles in the template and revisit and save your documents to update the styles in them. This may be tedious, but it is simple! You can even apply a template retrospectively to your old documents, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that anyone who uses a word processing program that provides a style-like feature and a template-like feature should use the features in almost situations. OK, you write a letter and may think that you would not need to style that, but then you come to write another similar letter. If you had spent a few minutes styling your first letter, you could use it as a template for any subsequent letters. “Dear Mum…”

Don’t be scared of styles. They aren’t really that complex. Styles will not cause you to lose any work or break your word processing program. If things get too messy you can always cut and paste your text into a brand new empty document. I ended up with a mess because I like to experiment with things and only read the documentation after I’ve tried something (and usually screwed it up). But my documents are going to look perfect by the time that I’ve finished.

Styles in Word Processors

A Dark and Stormy Night

I use LibreOffice Writer for writing my stories and for other similar writing tasks. It’s free and it runs on Linux, and it does everything that Microsoft Word™ does and probably more.

I haven’t got anything against the current version of MS Word. It’s a very good program, but it isn’t free, it doesn’t run on Linux, and I’m not keen on the interface, as it is, in my opinion, needlessly complex. But then again, I’ve not used it much.

I have used MS Word extensively in the past, and my memories of using it are not pleasant ones. I’ve lost work that I have done in it on many, many occasions. although that was many, many years ago!

However, in spite of my preference for LO Writer over MS Word, I’m always on the lookout for something else. After all, these fine products are general purpose word processors, and I wondered if there were programs designed to specifically write short stories and longer works.

And of course there are. Many of the writing programs only run on Windows, and I prefer Linux, but I decided to give the Windows-based software options a chance. Who knows? But sadly, I’ve found that the offerings are disappointing when compared with LO Writer and MS Word.

Many of the programs that I’ve looked at are not pretty, but if they work, does that matter? They don’t have as many features as MS Word or LO Writer, but again, if they do the job, so what? No, the real reason for my disappointment is related to the way that I work. It’s all about ‘styles’.

A ‘style’ is a collection of rules which describe how the document should appear. There are subsets of these rules, which apply only to parts of the document. For instance there will be rules for paragraphs, other rules for whole pages, and rules for the whole document. Once set up to the writer’s satisfaction, they should be applied automatically as the author writes, and the author then doesn’t have to worry about making the story or whatever look good, as it happens as if by magic!

Say you are writing, something, anything! You starting typing and the words appear on the screen, and your thoughts appear in concrete form. They are a certain size, a certain colour, and they are in a particular font. A font is the collection characters that, in this case, is shown on the screen in the editor.

They are also in a particular position on the screen. In the WordPress editor that I am using at the moment each paragraph that I type will appear as a paragraph on the page that the user will eventually read. In this case the lines of type will all start at the same distance from the left of the screen. Technically, all the lines in a paragraph are ‘left aligned’.

I’ll just mention here that all modern word-processing editors try to show the text as it would appear in the final result, whether it is in print or on a screen. This doesn’t matter so much for an email, but it is crucial for a story or novel which will be printed or read on a small device. What the screen shows should close to the required result.

Left alignment of all the paragraphs is fine for web pages, but I prefer a different arrangement for paragraphs in my stories, whether my story is read on a device or on paper. I prefer that the first paragraph in the story, chapter, or scene is left aligned, but that subsequent paragraphs are indented a little. You can see the effect in any of my stories, which you can find in this part of my website, and also in the image below.

To achieve this, I use ‘styles’ in my word processor. Without getting too technical, a paragraph style describes how the paragraph should look. For example it describes what font should be used, what size the characters should be, their colour, and how the lines are laid out, and many other things.

To save myself work I start with the ‘default’ style, which will be laid out more or less like the paragraphs in this post. I copy it and give it a name like ‘paragraph no indent’, and save it. It inherits all the settings from the ‘default’ style, even the fact that it is based on the ‘default’ style.

Then I copy the ‘paragraph no indent’ style and call it ‘paragraph ident’, tell it to indent the first line, and save it. Now that I’ve got my styles I link them together. I change the built-in ‘Heading’ style so that, by default the next style is ‘paragraph no indent’. I change the ‘paragraph no indent’ style so that by default the next style is ‘paragraph indent’ and finally I change the ‘paragraph indent’ style so that the next style is still ‘paragraph indent’.

Indentation Example

That all takes a minute or two and is harder to describe than to do. I then save the whole thing as a template. So I can open a new document and type a heading, assigning it the ‘Heading’ style. When I hit enter a new paragraph will automatically be created with a style of ‘paragraph no indent’. After I’ve typed the first paragraph and hit enter, another new paragraph is created with a style of ‘paragraph indent’. All subsequent paragraphs will have a style of ‘paragraph indent’.

Sounds complex? It isn’t really, and I only have to do it once. If I start a new document from the template all the styles are already there, so I can just start typing. And suppose for some reason I wanted all the indented paragraphs to be in a different font in a particular document. If I didn’t use styles I would need to go through my document and change the fonts by hand. But I can just change the font in the ‘document indent’ style, and all the indented paragraphs would be changed, in a second.

This is the big deficiency that I have found in most story writing software. The programs either do not allow the use of custom styles at all, or the custom styles are not easy to use.

Where the story writing software programs do excel is in organisation of the writing process. Most story software allows you to make notes, define characters, storyboard the story, and it breaks down the writing process into chapters, scenes, and so on. It also links all these things together in a logical way.

I’m impressed, but I don’t work that way. I often don’t have a clue what the story is going to be about until I’m actually writing it. I don’t know if a character who turns up is going to be pivotal to the story or whether he or she is just a spear carrier. I don’t have chapters or scenes in my mind. They just happen. This style of writing is known as ‘seat of the pants’ writing, and I’m firmly in that camp.

Many other writers prefer to plan out their writing projects to varied levels of detail, and may take longer to plan a story than to actually write it. I suspect that the whole process takes about the same amount of time, whichever camp you fall into – ‘planner’ or ‘pantser’.

One of the most popular of the story writing packages is called ‘Scrivener‘. It runs on Windows and Mac only, so it wasn’t really on my radar, and if you are a planner (who works on Windows or Mac), then it may suit you very well. From a quick look over, it seems to me that Scrivener can take your minimally formatted document when it is complete and can then ‘compile’ it into a format that suits you, with all the styles that you might desire.

Once again, I don’t work that way. I like to see roughly what I am getting as I write. And surely, if you want to make a change after the document has been compiled you will need to make the change and then re-compile?

To be fair, Scrivener advertises itself as “everything you need to craft your first draft”, and it is suggested that you use another program for the final formatting, but from what I have seen of it, Scrivener actually seems to be much more than that. You can compile your story so that it can be used to create a paperback. And you can compile the same story to be suitable for an e-reader, and you could also generate a PDF of your story. That feature is pretty cool!

But, Scrivener aside, the story writing packages don’t impress me much, because of the style issues, and the other facilities that they provide I wouldn’t find much use for. So, I’m sticking with LibreOffice Writer for now.

Photo by Janusz Hylinski from FreeImages

Some of my stories have been published on Amazon (as eBooks and paperbacks) and Kobobooks and Smashwords (as eBooks). Here are the links to my Author Pages on those sites.

A Cloud of Ideas

Photo by Jeremy Menking from FreeImages

I’ve written before about my somewhat chaotic writing process. I like to consider myself to be logical, and fairly rational, but it is rare that I proceed from idea to story in a logical way.

Often my stories seem to possess a life of their own, and while I might start with an idea and intend to take it this way, it instead heads off in that direction. That’s not a bad thing – after all a story is being told, even if it wasn’t the one that I thought that I was going to write.

But that is when I get started. Where do the ideas come from in the first place? Well, the answer is that I have them all the time. If I am thinking about starting a new story, and I haven’t yet decided on the topic, then search for ideas is at the back of my mind, and ideas fizz up all the time.

I could write about the adventures of an insect on a plant, just because I glimpsed an insect damaged plant. Or I might see children waiting to cross the road. What if the crossing guard was a robot, programmed to protect the kids, to the point it would lay down its ‘life’ for the kids. Or the thoughts of a tree.

Getting ideas is not hard. There are literally countless ideas out there, and the difficulty is deciding which ideas can be extended into a story. Well, they all can of course, but some are easier than others. I could probably write a story about intelligent dice, maybe ones whose ambition is to escape randomness and become predictable, but it would probably be a bit hard.

So, if ideas are swarming around you, how can you decide which ideas are worth pursuing, and which are not. There have been occasions when I have started to write and the words have petered out. I’m convinced that there is a story in the idea, but it won’t come out on the screen.

One technique for overcoming this is to put the idea and the not-yet-a-story to one side for a while. I’ve certainly done this, but I’ve not really done it consciously. Something else grabbed my attention, and when I came back to the idea I was able to progress the story.

I would not categorise the failure to progress a story as a ‘writer’s block’, by the way. If you have an idea, but can’t progress it at that time, you still have the idea, and know that you can come back to it and progress it later. A writer’s block would mean that you can’t progress anything at all, I would say. But I’ve never written something to a deadline!

If there really are ideas galore, why do we sometimes find ourselves unable to pick one? One reason is that most writers want to write something fresh and new. Even if they are writing a sequel or one a series, it has to be different in some way, to maintain the interest of the writer and his/her potential readers, so recycling old ideas is not a good idea.

For instance, if in the first book, the heroine slays the dragon and saves the Prince, and she is still doing it in book three or four, it would make the series pretty boring (and what would she do with all those Princes?)

Some people like to organise their ideas. As an idea comes to them, they write it down in a notebook or keep a file of random ideas. I’ve done that at times, but it only works moderately well for me.

Others might find help in a websites that provides ideas for stories. There are many of them, and while I’ve looked at them now and then, I’ve not been inspired by them. The ideas seem to me to be too middle of the road and not particularly interesting, but it is more than possible that the ideas these websites provide could resonate with something in one’s brain and result in a usable idea. So I don’t totally write them off.

Another technique for coming up with ideas is to take a standard story and twist it. For instance, there’s the standard ‘Prince saves Princess from Dragon’ story. What if the Dragon saves the Princess from a boring marriage with an arrogant self-obsessed Prince? Or the Prince and Princess get married and later find out that they are incompatible and it’s not ‘happy ever after’?

I use the twisted standard story idea quite a lot in my writing. My story ‘The Boy the Girl and the Dragon‘ is loosely related to the ‘Prince saves Princess from Dragon’ theme, and my story ‘Golden Hair and the Bears‘ is distantly related to the story of Goldilocks.

[I just realised that the film ‘Shrek‘ is a twisted variation of the Prince/Princess/Dragon theme, if you replace ‘Dragon’ with ‘Ogre’. The Ogre saves the Princess from a marriage with the arrogant self-obsessed Lord Farquar.]

One obvious source of ideas is one’s own stories. One could write a sequel or a spin-off. I’m not a fan of sequels, but I’ve written them. I prefer spin-offs, which allow me to use the existing story ‘universe’ but with new characters and new situations.

So, at the moment I’m between stories. I’m hunting around for the right idea. It’s proving a little elusive, but I’m sure, 100% sure, that it is out there somewhere in the cloud of ideas, just waiting for me to find it!

Some of my stories have been published on Amazon (as eBooks and paperbacks) and Kobobooks and Smashwords (as eBooks). Here are the links to my Author Pages on those sites.

Three More Stories

I’ve been doing other things, mainly fiddling with this web site, but I’ve also been writing some more stories in the Mage and the Boffin series. Here they are!

Flickering

When Alan is threatened “everything flickers” and he finds himself in a strange new place. He will have to start again from next to nothing. No home, no friends, no money. He needs to find someone who can help him make sense of it all.

The Dichotomy

The Mage and the Boffin go to Hell. They have an interesting talk with the Devil, and they talk about the Great Dichotomy. The Devil is friendly enough until he reveals his true nature.

I am the Apocalypse

A pandemic sweeps the world, and Mack holes up in his apartment. But has he isolated himself in time?

Some of my stories have been published on Amazon (as eBooks and paperbacks) and Kobobooks and Smashwords (as eBooks). Here are the links to my Author Pages on those sites.

Please note, I’ve decided to share my stories here as PDFs. If you would prefer a different format, for example, an ePub file, just let me know through my feedback form.

Pet – A Journey

The Road
The Road (Photo by Tyler Kellen from FreeImages)

Imagine a world where men are much less intelligent than women. What would it be like? Would the men become little more than pets, or would they still be able to hold their own in a relationship? What would such a relationship look like?

I’ve written a story about a couple, Jess and Pet, who live in such a world. The story is available here. It’s in a number of parts, and each part is less than 3,000 words long.

Please note, I’ve decided to share my stories here as PDFs. If you would prefer a different format, for example, an ePub file, just let me know through my feedback form.

Some of my stories have been published on Amazon (as eBooks and paperbacks) and Kobobooks and Smashwords (as eBooks). Here are the links to my Author Pages on those sites.

Reading by Writing

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

Who am I writing for? What is my audience? That’s actually a hard question to answer.

Firstly, on a superficial level, I’d hope that the age group that I would hope that I’m writing for would be “Young Adult” and above. I looked up what that means and there is no real consensus on the definition, but it can refer to children from the age of 12 or 13 or up. That’s a little low, I think, for Young Adult,

However, that’s not an issue so far as my writing is concerned as my characters don’t go beyond a smooch and a hug or two. What they get up to in private is entirely up to them.

I’d hope that the absence of any salacious bits doesn’t restrict the upper age limit of those who read my books and stories. It’s the story that matters, of course, and the characters.

Speaking of characters, I’ve discovered that, so far at least, I haven’t created a decent villain. I’ve created characters who could have been villains, but have turned out to not be villainous as the story develops. A vampire. An assassin. The few villains that I have created have been unimpressive. An insane Khan who quickly gets killed off. A few inconsequential Kings.

Photo by emre keshavarz on Pexels.com

On the other hand, it seems that I find it easy to create heroines. When I look back at my stories, a big majority of them have a heroine. I wrote ‘feisty’ there but took it out. Nasty word. My heroines can be dominant, but they aren’t, as a rule, aggressively so. They are, in general, the equals of my heroes, but they have a larger role in the story. Maybe they are the prime characters.

My signature characters are the Mage and the Boffin, and they demonstrate this well. The Mage specialises in magic and the Boffin specialises in science (or physics, they would say), but there is a crossover. The Boffin is very much the mother figure, and the Mage is a father figure.

The Boffin quite often takes the lead in their adventures, but it is evident that she believes that the partnership is 50/50. The Mage doesn’t disagree. He follows where his wife leads, but without exception, they are always headed in the same direction. They very rarely differ, and each respects the other and the other’s view of the world.

The Mage does not feel dominated by his wife. In fact, he often finds her direct approach amusing. For example, the Boffin blasts a cell door when someone incarcerates them, and he merely inquires whether or not she is feeling tetchy, since they could have simply ‘stepped’ out of the cell.

So, what would I say my genre was? I’d say ‘fantasy’, but isn’t all fiction fantasy? Technology in my stories tends to be simpler than our technology, but some more modern stuff does creep in now and then.

I’m not too concerned about anachronisms. I’m not worried about inconsistencies, except within a story, and if the same character appears in more than one story, I don’t expect him or her to be exactly the same, to remember the same things, to do the same things.

Photo by James Frid on Pexels.com

I could explain this by pointing at the core mechanism that occurs in many of my stories – the idea of multiple worlds, and multiple versions of a character – but that’s not really the explanation. No, the real reason is that the stories are seemingly linked, but are actually independent.

I do like to keep my storyverse consistent though. It’s just that I don’t fret if it isn’t.

But to come back to my original question – who do I write for? Well, my stories are up on my website, and I know that people do stumble across it. I don’t know, because I haven’t looked, how many people have downloaded them.

Similarly, some of my stories, collected into books, are available as eBooks or even paperbacks. I have looked to see if anyone is buying them, but so far as I can tell, no one is.

So, I still keep writing them and polishing them and making them available, which means that I am, simply put, writing them for myself. I enjoy the process of writing, and when I start a story, I often don’t know where it is going to end. It’s a process that might be called ‘reading by writing’.

I’m happy to keep doing this, for as long as story ideas come to mind. Sometime someone may read on of my stories and enjoy it. That will be a bonus.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Some of my stories have been published on Amazon (as eBooks and paperbacks) and Kobobooks and Smashwords (as eBooks). Here are the links to my Author Pages on those sites.

A Brief Note

Photo by Andrew Beierle from FreeImages
Photo by Andrew Beierle from FreeImages

OK, this is just a quick note about this blog. It is a WordPress site, and periodically they come out with updates. One of the recent updates has included a new editor, the so-called Block Editor. I’m a technophile, but have been putting off switching to it, because of the time involved in learning something new.

The new editor, sometimes known as Gutenberg, is certainly a lot different from the old editor, the TinyMCE editor. Each ‘element’ (maybe not the official terminology) that is added comprises a block, and each block can have different properties (eg background colour or background image).

Having each element in its own block means that chunks of the page or post can easily be shifted around, using drag and drop. It’s a lot easier and quicker than cut and paste.

I’ve mostly used the ‘paragraph’ block, for text, and the ‘file’ block, to give access to my files. This second block makes it easy to give access to new files, but it presents them slightly differently from the standard underlined blue links, but I’m happy with that.

There’s a new feature that I like very much. It’s called ‘Reusable Blocks’ and is ideal for chunks of standard text. For example, see the chunk of text with a yellow background below. I’ve used it on a few pages and posts to warn my readers (if I’ve got any!) that things might look a little different.

In conclusion, I’ve only had a brief look at the new editor, but it is definitely worth a try. The old one won’t be around for ever, (it goes in 2022, I believe) so it is a good idea to have a good look at it well before then. I haven’t found any glitches yet, but in any case, it will only improve over time.

In addition to using the new Block Editor, I’ve also switched to using a new theme, which is called ‘twenty sixteen’. That too will make things look different. I’ve set up new menus, a new home page banner, and a couple of other things. Maybe I should mention that in my chunk of text!

I’ve switched to using the new WordPress Block Editor, and this means that my posts may look different from now on. Things may change as I get more used to the new editor, so please excuse any small changes that you might notice. Please comment below, or fill in my feedback form, if something appears to be really wrong. (e.g. bits of text hidden by buttons.)

My Three Latest Stories

I’ve switched to using the new WordPress Block Editor, and this means that my posts may look different from now on. Things may change as I get more used to the new editor, so please excuse any small changes that you might notice. Please comment below, or fill in my feedback form, if something appears to be really wrong. (e.g. bits of text hidden by buttons.)

Below you will find the details for my three latest short stories. Feel free to download them and enjoy them. They will eventually be included in my next collection of ‘The Mage and the Boffin’ stories.

A Man on a Quest

Rory has been having recurring dreams where he is fighting someone in a high place. His dream ends when he is pushed off the high place. His fiancee sends him off to see a Dream Reader, but when he returns, she has shocking news for him.

Being Dead

John is dead. He knows that he is dead, but if he is dead, how does he know that he is dead?

The Assassin and his Mistress

Louise is present when the Assassin kills the King. She is swept up in his wake, and has to travel with him to the Assassin Guild lodge. Along the way she gets to know the Assassin’s hidden depths.

These three stories will eventually form part of my next “Mage and Boffin” collection of stories, to be published on Amazon and Kobobooks. Here are the links to my Author Pages.

Please note, I’ve decided to share my stories here as PDFs. If you would prefer a different format, for example, an ePub file, just let me know through my feedback form.

My Characters On a Sabbatical

Cocktail
Photo by ‘Robert Owen-Wahl’ Link: CharterForCompassion.org from FreeImages

Things don’t always go to plan, when writing a story. For instance, the protagonists in my latest story are currently frozen in time, as I try to work out what they are going to do next. It’s as if they’re at a stage in their journey where they have to change course and head off in a slightly different direction, but they don’t know which direction to go in.

Oh, I know where I want them to end up, pretty much, and I know roughly how they are going to get there, but it’s the details that are currently eluding me. Do they turn left or right when they leave the door? Do they stick together or split up, and (maybe) get back together again later? One of them has a secret. Does it come out now, or later, and what are the knock-on effects from the revelation?

So, they are on a sabbatical at present, sitting by the side of a pool somewhere in the storyverse, sipping cocktails and asking each other “Where do you think he will send us next?”

When I come to a sticking point in a story there are a number of courses of action that I could take. One is to abandon the story for a while, like I am doing with the story in question. Or I could force the narrative onward.

This second course of action is generally much harder, but on occasion I have taken it. Generally it means I write a few words, maybe a sentence on two, then play a game or take the dog for a walk. Then I push it a step or two further. And so on, until the log jam breaks and the words start to flow more freely.

This works for me. I know, though, that other people do things differently. There are many tricks to break the log jam, which is sometimes called a writer’s block. For instance there are web sites which produce a random sentence, often of the form “<subject> <verb> <object>” with maybe few random adjectives thrown for good measure. I can see how this would help, if the writer’s narrative fit the suggestion reasonably closely, but often this is not the case. (Others may be luckier than I am, of course).

I can’t say that I suffer from writer’s block, though. I’ve shelved stories for up to a decade or so, but that more because I wanted to do other things than because I can’t advance the narrative. It’s more temporary loss of enthusiasm than a block. But it does bring the narrative to a temporary halt.


Most of my stories have been or will eventually be published on Amazon and Kobobooks. Here are the links to my Author Pages.

[Please note, I’ve decided to share my stories here only as PDFs. If you would prefer a different format, for example, an ePub file, just let me know through my feedback form.]

Three New Short Stories

The Girl, the Boy, and the Dragon

Idris was a dragon. Not a huge, fierce, fire-breathing dragon. No, Idris was a tiny, two weeks out of the egg, baby dragon, who had lost his mother. Fortunately Idris had met a young human, Jim, who was on the run, though he’d committed no crime. Jim didn’t know how to return Idris to his mother, but fortunately he had a plan.

Download the short story as a PDF here.

How to Save a World

How do you stop mankind from wiping itself out through constant war? Why, you form a special team to use their talents to change the mindset of the leaders and persuade them that diplomacy and trade are a better answer to conflict than constant war. If that isn’t enough there’s one other course of action that will bring peace to a troubled world.

Download the story as a PDF here.

The World Within

Fi seems to be just like any young girl just starting University, but she isn’t. She has a secret. Fi does her best to fit in, and quickly settles into Varsity life. She finds that her new friends, Jess and Felix, also have a secret, one which comes between Jess and her boyfriend, Mark. Fi quietly tries to find out what Jess’ problem is, at first without success.

Download the story as a PDF here.

These three stories will eventually form part of my next “Mage and Boffin” collection of stories, to be published on Amazon and Kobobooks. Here are the links to my Author Pages.

[Please note, I’ve decided to share my stories here only as PDFs. If you would prefer a different format, for example, an ePub file, just let me know through my feedback form.]