David B Coe is the author of the Crawford Award-winning fantasy The LonTobyn Chronicle, Winds of the Forelands and Blood of the Southlands. He’s also, I’m honoured to say, a good friend of mine. I was reading his blog recently and came across a post informing people that a short story he’d originally had published in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show was now available on his website as the exclusive rights with IGMS had expired. So I went on over to have a read.
Everything about David’s story is an excellent example of what makes good short fiction. It’s called Cassie’s Story. What makes it so good? Initially there’s an intriguing premise. This is followed by strong characterisation and clever, subtle backstory. A lot of information is delivered without “info-dumping”, while at the same time moving the story along.
By halfway through you feel like you know the two main characters and you want to know what happens. There’s also a quality speculative fiction idea at work here. Not necessarily ground-breakingly new, but definitely handled and explored in an interesting and original way. The ending is poignant and emotive, leaving the reader a lot to think about. And above all that, it’s just a damned well written piece of fiction.
This is the kind of short story that I wish I’d written. It’s the kind of thing that I do try to write and maybe sometimes I manage something close. This is the kind of short story that sells. Go over to David’s website and read Cassie’s Story for yourself. It’s time well spent.
And as a bonus, I learned about Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, which is a market I wasn’t aware of before. So that’s another place to aspire to with my own writing. Here’s their submissions page if you’re interested in having a go yourself.