Story Notes

Story Notes: ‘Of Gods and Curtains’

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My story ‘Of Gods and Curtains’ was published this week in Apeiron Review, a lovely magazine filled with fabulous prose, pictures and poetry. I was thrilled to be included in Issue 7.

To read the story just head on over to Apeiron Review and check it out!

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Apeiron Review before reading the notes.

About ‘Of Gods and Curtains’

We all have stories to tell and this is one of mine. It’s on repeat in my head as I struggle to find various ways to express it. Maybe to exorcise it. Maybe to simply see it from a new angle. It always comes out different, fictitious when I write it, but it’s always got that core of truth.


This is a story that’s hard for me to look in the eye. It came from the desire to have the story out in the open and blossomed with the line ‘Your Idols are crumbling, you have put them so high on their pedestals you can’t see the cracks.’

Sometimes all you need is a single thought to open up a wound.

People sometimes ask me why I feel the need to tell this story. Why I keep coming back to it over and over even though it’s hard and I think it’s mostly because I feel a responsibility to share my struggles with others so that they can know they’re not alone. I want people to know that there is help out there when you’re faltering, there are vets with golden rings who can help patch you up and help you make yourself whole. People who can help you see the sky.

I encourage anyone with a black river to seek help.

Another reason I keep returning to the story is because it scares me and the more something scares me the more I want to write it. Because if it means something to me, I think it might just mean something to someone else too.

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The Importance of Words

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I love words.

I fucking love words.

Isn’t it wonderful how the two sentences above mean exactly the same thing but feel so different?  It’s all thanks to one word.  Just the addition of one little word can make a sentence feel different, it can tell us something about the writer and change our entire perspective.  It’s a bit like magic, isn’t it?  By adding the word ‘fucking’ to my love of words, I’ve increased the boldness, maybe added a little shock and told you I’m not afraid of using words some people might find offensive or distasteful.  That’s a lot of information crammed into seven letters.

Here’s some examples of more words that change meaning:

Murder vs. Slaughter  

I love the word slaughter.  I think it’s so evocative and tells us something more specific about the death in question.  Murder is almost mundane, it’s the tame sibling of slaughter.  Murder is broad and sweeping, less perverse and savage.  To me, slaughter evokes images of a killing floor, a sociopathic, willful and gruesome act.  It adds to the gravity of the death and makes it something more than it would be if it was simply murder.

Making Love vs. Having Sex vs. Fucking

This is an exciting trio because each choice can say so much about the individual.  If you have two people and one refers to sex as making love, while the other calls it fucking, you immediately learn about both personalities and even the status of the relationship.  The dynamic possibilities are so rich despite the brevity of the terms.

Dirt vs. Earth

Earth is epic.  It’s vast, elemental and evocative. Dirt is small, local and simple.

“I can’t” vs. “I can not”

Words can also make a massive difference when it comes to dialogue.  The difference between an abbreviation and two separate words can tell us so many things about the speaker.  Perhaps it’s education or social status, maybe it’s time period or situation.  The choices we make for our character’s speech patterns can vastly restructure their personalities based on the smallest tweaks.

I fucking love words.  They are so important that just one (or the lack of one) can change the entire meaning of a story.

Tell me how you feel about words.

What are your favorites?

How do you use words to change meaning and character?

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Rock your metaphors (like a hurricane)*

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I love metaphor.

I love when one thing means something else.  I love a story with layers.  I love when things linger below the surface.  I love metaphor so much that I don’t mind if I can’t understand what the metaphor is about and I’m left to fill in my own meaning.  I want stories to be rich and full and brimming with metaphors that make me think and question and relate.

When a metaphor is done well there is nothing like it, it fills you up and makes you feel as though art is real.  It makes you marvel at a world where such perfection of wordplay can exist.  However, where such a possibility of perfection lives, there must also be it’s opposite.

Bad metaphor rips open the page and exposes the story’s innards.  It jars you and dislodges you from the flow of the story making you feel as though you’ve tripped, fallen over the words and bruised your knee.  Now the world looks a little different, a little more mundane then when you set out on your little journey.  Maybe it was an inconsistent feeling that the metaphor gave off, or the wording was just a little too cliche, but either way you are trying to catch up to a story that is not as satisfying and that just won’t do.

Because I am fond of lists (although not to the scale of my love for metaphors) here is a list of ways in which you can rock your metaphors:

Avoid cliches.  I’m pretty sure even saying this is cliche, but it unfortunately needs to be said.  Sometimes I fall into the cliche trap and I’m lucky enough to have someone who loves me to pull me out.  So find someone who loves you (or just about anyone willing to point out your flaws) and get out of the habit.

Be consistent.  If you are writing a story set in medieval times don’t use modern metaphors.  Try to think about your characters, location, time period, feelings, themes and anything else that is a part of your story, then try to make your metaphors consistent with that.  Use the imagery you have available within the scope of your story to expand and reflect exactly what you’re trying to say.  Go through and check your metaphors at the end, make sure they are consistent throughout.

Symbolism matters.  Remember that even if you don’t intend it, people will read more into your story than you may have put in.  So start intending it.  Leave easter eggs.  Choose words, items, locations and people that mean something, that somehow reflect the themes in your story.  People will find patterns no matter what, but if you put some of those patterns in there you get bonus points for awesome!

Be accessible.  If you use something completely abstract or rare your readers might find themselves removed.  You want people to be able to vividly associate with whatever  image or feeling you are trying to conjure.  I reckon this is also based on your demographic and what kind of audience you are writing for.  If you are just writing for your own enjoyment though, go wild!

Experiment.  This doesn’t have to be the flip side of being accessible, but if it is than that’s okay!   Try things, be brave and bold and discover hidden meanings that you didn’t even know were there!

Got more ideas on how to rock metaphor?  Let me know!

*Intentional irony