Today sees the publication of another Wordsworth Short.
The Phoenix Lights is a brand-new short story especially written for this challenge. Read more about how this story came about below.
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The Phoenix Lights
Each month I do what I call date work. This is where I brainstorm upcoming dates, usually around 6 months ahead, in order to come up with initial ideas for short stories or articles. And even books.
I stumbled upon the actual Phoenix Lights in July 2021, when I was brainstorming up to a year ahead. I loved the anniversary (it was only 25 years earlier), and I loved the idea that the US Government’s so-called explanation didn’t really cut it with anyone.
The mystery was and is unresolved, whatever the military say. The ‘explanation’ drifted off and was apparently never investigated further.
So I started to play the what-if…? game. And what if… it really was a UFO? Note: I’m not one to go around suggesting that every unusual object or light seen in the sky is a UFO. But… what if… it really was?
I couldn’t think of a single market that I’d be able to write an article for in the time without having to contact various ‘experts’, both on UFOs and in the US military, or any military. I also don’t deem myself clever enough to write such an in-depth exposé. So I knew a non-fiction piece was out of the question for me.
However, I can write short stories, and short stories about UFOs can be deep or they can be, well, shallow. So then I started to think about how I’d write a short story using the Phoenix Lights as my basis.
Sci-fi isn’t really my thing. I do read it occasionally, and I do watch it on the telly. But writing it is another matter altogether. Beyond the what-if…? of this being a story about a UFO, I had no idea what to do next.
I was browsing through one of those books of writing prompts that pop up every so often, and there were something like 50 prompts for sci-fi stories. I picked one, massaged it a bit, and decided that this too would go into my mix.
Then I decided to give the story to two existing characters of mine, sister and brother time-travel team Toni and Bart. I also thought a sci-fi story should maybe start at around the 2,000-word mark. And I thought up two more characters.
So now I had my theme, I had my date-specific topic, I had my main characters, and I had a target word-length. All I had to do now was come up with an outline and off I could go.
With sci-fi not really being my thing, I did think I’d struggle to write 1,000 words, let alone 2,000 words. However, the writing really, really flowed and by the time I cleared 1,800 words, I realised the story would be longer than 2,000 words.
Well, to cut a long story short, The Phoenix Lights ended up at just over 4,000 words, even after editing. I read it out to the poet, he enjoyed it so much, he read it himself again. And now he’s coming up with more idea suggestions for Toni and Bart.
I won’t say any more about this story, as I’ll risk spoilers. But if you want to find out if the Phoenix Lights really was a UFO or not, or at least in my world, then you’ll have to read it. 😉
Over to you…
Do you have any questions? How is your publishing challenge going?