The Art of Flash Fiction

I know what you’re thinking.

What is flash fiction? Is that where the main character wears a red suit and is surrounded by yellow lightening?



But the much broader term ‘Flash Fiction’ generally means any piece of fiction less than 2000 words. That’s around a 5-6 page story, just enough to pique interest and present an idea.

I love flash fiction.

I’m currently assembling a lot of the flash fiction I’ve written into an anthology, or reader, or whatever you want to call it. There are stories that deal with longing, loss, space, robots, the origin of a species, all kinds of things.

And all of these stories are extremely short. All of them combined might make 50 pages.

So how does that even work?

Ideas rather than plots or Characters

Flash fiction is much more about how the story makes the reader fell than how good the plot/character development/whatever metric people use to score a longer story is. A well written piece of flash fiction will leave the reader thinking about the overarching ideas of the story. Not to say that a great plot or character can’t be developed in that short of a frame, but the idea is usually what sticks.

Hate Charles Dickens

I (Will) am well documented as saying that I hate Charles Dickens writing. It has too many words. Likewise, a flash fiction piece should be concise and not use flowery language or overly complicated words to describe something. Be concise. Tell a story, don’t give a dissertation.

Trust the Reader

Readers are smarter than we authors think. Most of the time anyway. If you think the scene is not properly set up by being concise, think again. Readers can fill in any gaps you think are missing, because they are smart individuals. They have probably forged scenes in their heads before. It’s ok to let go of their hands. You can do it. Stop saying so many words. You’re becoming an adjective farmer and flooding the market. Stop it.


Flash Fiction is a great way to start a daily writing habit, and also to make a little extra cash once you can collect them into an anthology. Don’t sleep on it.

Write a story!

Coming Attractions

The Podcast

First of all, thanks so much for keeping up with this blog even though posting has been sporadic. A lot of time goes into the podcast, taking away time to write stuff down here.

with that being said,


have you checked out our podcast?!

If you haven’t, you can find it on iTunes, The Silly Robots podcast, or the podcast website.


We’re working really hard to get great content, news, interviews, and all kinds of other things on there, and would appreciate it if you left us a review and rating on iTunes.

We have some great new episodes coming up, including a special Valentine’s day episode, a Deadpool movie review, more of our popular Not a Nerd Trivia series, and tons of other stuff.


Don’t worry, Will is still writing. He just finished the first chapter of a graphic novel, has submitted a few short stories to magazines, and is working on all sorts of other stories. Some of it will even be out before you know it.

Grant is also working on a few projects, as well as his wonderful sermon blog every week.

So stay tuned for all of that, and you can even get some free stories when you sign up for



Yes yes yes…we have started a Patreon campaign. We are announcing it on this week’s podcast to go along with this post. And this week’s Valentine’s day episode is totally hilarious by the way.


But here’s what we’re asking:

We want you to partner with us so we can bring you even more incredible stuff. We love creating things and we love giving it away, and by partnering with us it will give us more time and resources for all of that stuff. And the packages for giving are pretty cool, giving you free stuff that isn’t available anywhere yet, plus some airtime and production experience. All in all this is a win win win, as Michael Scott would say, and we hope that you will partner with us in this endeavor. It starts at 5 bucks a month and offers some great incentives.

Well that’s everything going on here in Silly Robots land for the time being, thanks for reading and listening, and we hope to hear from you soon!

important links and stuff

Silly Robots Twitter

Silly Robots Facebook

Will’s Twitter

Grant’s Twitter


Speculation and the Art of Fiction

It’s always something that is thought or said that invigorates the mind of a writer. For instance, when pitching Star Wars episode VII to J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy simply asked, “Who is Luke Skywalker?”

This was enough to get J.J. to take on the project and co write the movie with Lawrence Kasdan. Similarly, for my most recently published fiction, I asked the question, “How would a superintelligent AI act towards humans?”


Simple questions, but important none the less. Once the question is asked, speculation must replace curiosity. One must move from wondering about the question to answering the question. Sometimes the questions get radically profound answers, leading one to see the beauty and terror of The Matrix.

Other times the answer is midichlorians.

But what separates good speculation from bad?



Plausibility? Aren’t we talking about fiction here?

Sure. But that doesn’t mean you can just wave your hand and it not be a plot hole. I always like the Star Trek TNG answer to the transporters.

“Are the transporters online?”

“Almost, we need to fix something on the Heisenberg compensators.”

What does a Heisenberg compensator do exactly? I don’t know. All I know is it compensates for the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which is the main barrier for technology like that. It isn’t a matter of fiction, per se, but it is a matter of plausibility.


Originality is a tricky subject, because one could argue that it no longer exists. While that may be somewhat true, presentation is always original whether good or bad. An original presentation can make or break the fiction we are trying to write.

In order to bring this to the forefront, remember to speculate from your own viewpoint and not a preconceived notion. The status quo never stirred anyone to great achievement, unless it moved them in tangent.


Ok that isn’t really a word.

But what i mean is that it has to be palatable. Someone has to want to read/watch/play it. Bad fiction that is of the most wildly original speculation is still bad fiction. The point of being an artist is to have an audience that will consume the art, otherwise you’re just a pompous windbag who nobody cares about.

Don’t be that person.

Create things that are good. Get an editor. Hire an artist. Rewrite the sentence until it makes sense. Do whatever it takes.


The Art of Fiction is one that is one that heavily relies on speculation. A rocket scientist can not speculate on the right amount of fuel to get to the space station. An accountant cannot speculate on the cost of a mission that the rocket scientist is purchasing fuel for.

But a writer can speculate about how both of them do their jobs.

Happy Writing.

Pantsing your way to a story

“Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all the gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same.”

Stephen King – “On Writing”

There are tons of articles about plotting and pantsing. It’s a little absurd. And I really do get why plotters do what they do. I think it’s probably more of a personality preference than a successful writing strategy. I, however, despise outlines and will probably never use one when I write other than to keep track of what I have already written. Here are three reasons why i don’t use outlines, at least anymore, and why it’s a good thing.

My Characters suffer

When writing a story, characters seem to pop out of nowhere in my head, and then I find interesting things for them to do. I simply can not do this if I outline. I tend to have a main character who finds a bunch of cardboard NPC’s if I do this. It just isn’t a good thing.

But if i go in and just tell the story that’s in my head, this resolves itself. I may only have one to three characters in a story, but they will be far more interesting than the scallywag who happened to tell my main character where to find some jewel on a side quest.

plot points are not a story

When I relay the events of my life by telling a story, I do not order them out on a sheet of paper or in Scrivener before I tell my friends. Sure I have an idea of how it went down, but that doesn’t mean the events are perfectly ordered, or even that my story suffers from them being slightly out of order. Drawing from the quote at the top, if you found the fossil’s head next to its foot, would you say that it wasn’t a T-Rex? Or that you found it in an interesting way?

what if something changes

So you’re writing at full steam, hitting all of your plot points, and then it happens. You notice that one of your points down the line won’t jive with the story as it is being written. And if that point doesn’t flow, then several others are rendered moot. All of a sudden your outline is useless and needs to be -almost- completely redone. Well that’s a lot more time wasted. I did this a couple of times and I almost broke my computer. Maybe I’m just a bad outliner and that’s why that happened.

Oh well!

If you need to outline, I get it. Not everyone can sit down and just write a story. In fact, some writers believe outlining is how to beat writer’s block. If that’s you, more power for it. If not, I hope i gave you some insight into why I ditched my outlines, and maybe you should too.

Have you checked out the latest release?


Get it on Kindle

Uncanny Divide:Six Tales of Artificial Intelligence

Here it is folks, the new Short Story anthology from Turtleshell Press and Happy Pants Books:


It features myself, and two other great authors you should check out. These six stories feature some thought provoking fiction on the subject of artificial intelligence, and will keep you engaged until the end.

Plus they’re short, so they read quickly and leave you wanting more!

Please check it out, buy a copy, leave a review, and help support this little endeavor. We all would appreciate it and the more we get funded, the more we can do what we love, which is write stories for all of you to enjoy.

Click the link, and begin the journey!

Uncanny Divide: Six Tales of Artificial Intelligence

Blockbuster Summer

Well kids, school is out and it’s time to play! What are you looking forward to this summer?


2012-08-01 11.25.40


Perhaps a good book?

I’m in talks with a small publishing house to get some of my work on the market with some professional covers, editing, and all of the generally good things that authors need. What are you working on? And where in the process are you?

The Craft of storytelling through songwriting

There are tons of songs that can help you learn the art of story. Nowadays the radio is filled with songs that all talk about how much the artists love their boo. Or how good their significant other looks in jeans. Or some other ill fated assault on our intelligence.

But some songs are the result of excellent story telling woven into a tapestry of sound. Check out these songs and let them help shape how you tell a story.

“A Boy Named Sue” – Johnny Cash

The Man in Black always has a way with words. This Shel Silverstein (yes, it’s the guy you’re thinking of) is a geat work of fiction. Let yourself listen to it as many times as you would like.

“The Lighthouse Tale” – Nickel Creek

I dare you not to cry.

“Please Take Me Home” – Blink 182

Ah. Young love lost. And also friendship. And pop punk. Quite possibly the greatest genre of music ever invented. Maybe not. But still maybe.

“Walls” – Emery

A haunting tale of someone who has completely closed themselves off because of scorn from a lover. And an awesome breakdown. The last line tells it all: “These walls…this place…means everything to me.”

“The Ballad of Pancho and Lefty” – Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Who doesn’t love tales of Mexican banditos?!

Got any more? There are plenty. Go find your favorite and see what you can learn.

New Horizons

With all of the recent spacecraft landings on different bodies in the solar system, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on how these achievements will affect us in the Science Fiction realm. I have a few ideas about how they could shape the near future.



It’s no secret or small feat that we have landed a probe on a comet. But what does this mean for us? Well for one thing we will know a lot more about comets than we previously did. Also, have you ever thought about how much fuel it would conserve to hitch a ride on one? Perhaps we will be using comets as Solar Systemic taxis in the near future.


If you don’t know what Ceres is, it is one of the largest non planets in our solar system. It is roughly the size of Pluto’s moon Charon, and resides in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. There is a probe sending higher and higher resolution pictures of it by the day, and soon we will know precisely what its surface looks like. There is already speculation, because the low resolution images have yielded different colored spots on the surface of the asteroid, as well as a rotation. It will be quite the adventure if we decide to venture out for a manned mission to Ceres,especially if we can make it on a taxi comet ride.


Recently the white house requested a bunch of million dollars (30 to be accurate) to fund an unmanned mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Why is it so tantalizing you ask? Well there are a few reasons. The first one is that scientists believe Europa has a liquid ocean underneath its icy crust. They say this because the formation of new cracks on the surface indicate geo thermal activity and plate tectonics. This is significant because it would be the only occurrence of this mechanism in the solar system besides right here on old planet Earth.
And a liquid ocean could hold other treasures. What if there are some alien bacteria down there in those deep oceans? Bacteria tend to thrive in otherwise uninhabitable places. And what if there’s an alien fish? Or alien Merpeople?! The possibilities are endless. Of course this is all speculation. There could be no ocean and just really crappy ice that moves a lot. But it’s fun to guess.

These new horizons are ones that excite me as not only a SciFi writer, but a Sci Fi fan. I can’t wait to see what we all produce as a result of these discoveries. It really is fascinating to think that in a just a little over 100 years we’ve gone from flying planes short distances to sending craft to the far reaches of the solar system. The voyager missions are still kicking out there somewhere. We can catch a ride on a comet. We can explore new worlds seeking out strange new life.

It really is an exciting time.

Sterner Stuff

Submitting stories to publishers is like sending your kids to an interview. You want the best for them, but ultimately their fate is in the hands of a stranger. A stranger with immense power. The power to make them flourish, or the power to CRUSH THEM INTO OBLIVION…

The waiting game

I’ve submitted stories and it’s taken less than an hour for the publisher to send it back. They weren’t feeling it or whatever. I’ve also sent in stories and waited for months just to receive a form letter saying they didn’t like my story. I’ve self published things and waited patiently for sales to pick up steam, and they do for like a week, then they dwindle. I write and write and write and then wait and wait and wait. And yet…

I Won’t Stop

I hate the rejection, and even the waiting, but I love the process. I love getting these random ideas that turn into cool settings or plots. I love watching my wife have no idea what I’m saying as I rant about how cool some story I’m writing is. I love hearing feedback from beta readers and thinking up new ways to write my existing stories. It just gets in your veins and begins to flow freely.

Keep at it

I’ll keep writing for a long time. Maybe some day I’ll give it up. Maybe not. What are you going to do? Can you handle the rejection? The suspense? The thrill? The adventure?

Or will you sit at home, wondering what will happen?

The Worst Ending

It’s been a while since the last post.

But that just means there’s more stuff to write about.

Get ready…




I don’t know if you saw the new Hunger Games movie yet, but I did. It was ok, really just a setup for the next movie. Almost nothing happened, save for a sweet scene where a bunch of people storm a dam and blow it up. Hardcore. And Katniss blowing up a freaking jet with an arrow shot from a recurve bow is pretty  sweet.

But here was the problem: first and foremost, this movie is the first of two movies, that are comprised of one book. Which raises the question: where do they split it?

I thought they split it at a really good spot. A recently rescued Peeta looks like garbage as Katniss moves to embrace him. and then he jumps up and starts strangling her! For no apparent reason! (unless you read the books. then none of this is news.) Katniss gets slammed all over the room by Peeta, her eyes red and starting to bulge, Peeta has thrown off everyone else in the room, it looks hopeless, our heroine is going to be killed by our hero, THEN BOGGS JUMPS IN AND KNOCKS PEETA OUT WITH A BLOW TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD! Screen goes black for several seconds, long enough for me to think:

Yes! Awesome. That’s the perfect place to end it. All these non book reading moviegoers have no idea what’s going on, and they have to wait until the next movie to see if Katniss and Peeta are ok. Brilliant. I love it. I…wait. Why is the picture back? What’s going on. They’re explaining everything? What the heck? This sucks.




No suspense. No time to deal with all of these conflicting emotions. Nothing left but a bunch of crappy dialogue about tracker jackers and fear conditioning. That anyone with half a brain can figure out. Because normal people don’t choke their girlfriend.

It was a letdown.

I had regained my faith in hollywood for like 3 seconds. And I was promptly let down.

So what can we learn from it?

Ask the questions

Is it part 1? Is it stand alone? Is it asking questions rather than giving answers? Is it giving answers rather than asking questions? Is it creating suspense? Is it resolving suspense?

These are important questions. And the people that made Mockingjay part 1 didn’t ask them. They were supposed to create suspense. They didn’t. They were supposed to ask questions. They answered them. It was horrible.

Stick to your guns

I know that fans are important. Fans are the lifeblood of any entertainment. Fans are not stupid. You think that you’re making them happy. You aren’t. Case in point:

Star Trek: Into Darkness

He’s not Khan. Why would we do that? That’s already a movie.

But he was Khan. And this “new” movie, was an old movie, and the new version sucked. All because JJ thought that fans would love it. And we didn’t. People who haven’t seen Wrath of Khan like it. Because they hadn’t seen that movie yet. Lame.

Stick to your guns. If it’s good, fans are gonna love it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cliffhanger, or muddy or whatever. As long as it isn’t bad.

Rant over.

See you when I see you.