Collection of Character Short Stories (2023)

How Nephthea Met Avian[]

I gaze out at the rippling ocean, my claws still dripping from my plunge. My SeaWing blood allows me to breathe underwater for a reasonable amount of time, and my relation to the unknown tribe with antennae and silk let me produce blazing fire in my wrists. Right now, I am using it to warm my talons as they settle onto the dried grass of the island.

I am General Nephthea of the SeaWings, and I have never felt so perfectly content for a long time.

Not since I was exiled from my tribe by my own family.

No, I think. They are not my family anymore. And the MudWings were never my tribe. Not like the SeaWings are.

MudWings are enemies, pure and simple.

And yet...I cannot convince Ocean and Emerald that this is really what I think. My foster parents believe that it is the other way around, continuing to doubt me even after Queen Coral bumped me up to General.

Wait till the next battle with Burn's side. That will show them.

I sigh. The SeaWings, unfortunately, are losing the war. My heart aches for them --- it is not their fault that they are alone in all of the battles. The other two sides have more than one tribe fighting, making all the battles unjust. Blister's scanty group of SandWings barely counts as anything, a group of tens against many thousands of others on the opposite sides.

I know that I need to throw my all into this battle. I need to make some use of my mystery powers, though it is doubtful that one dragon, however determined, however high-ranked, however superpowered, could make any difference.

I flex my wings. My battalion is waiting for me on the far shore. I left to consult attack plans with Queen Coral and Queen Blister before going into battle, but now that it is clear who and where we be attacking --- the MudWings at the rainforest border, a surprise strike --- there is no reason for any of us to hold back anymore.

I can't wait.

I spread my four wings and fly toward the dragons on the shore.

* * *

The rainforest seems to be pressing in around me.

I glance around nervously. According to one of Blister's spies, the MudWings will be traveling through the rainforest to fight the SandWings and IceWings at Blaze's palace. Several of my soldiers doubt that we need to get involved at all, that we only have to sit back and let them destroy each other. But I argue that we need to make sure that as many MudWings die as possible, because Burn's side is currently the strongest.

Sometimes I wonder if it is not because of this logical reason, but because of my own vendetta against the MudWings, that I insist on destroying them. But if I do hate the MudWings, then that is a good thing, because if I made friends with them, then that would hinder my tribe's progress in the war severely.

That is also why I view dragons who fall in love with enemies in the war as selfish beyond measure, because they destroy what is most important to their tribe, loyalty, and ruin their possible dragonet's life completely. I know this, as I am in a perfect position to know what a hybrid's life might be like.

Suddenly a flicker of movement startles me out of my thoughts. I narrow my eyes at a muddy puddle...that may not be entirely puddle.

''You,'' I order, gesturing with my tail toward a small gray-purple-blue SeaWing. Her gills flutter nervously as I add, ''Jab a large stick into that puddle. I think I saw something move inside.''

She obeys, poking a fallen branch into the opaque muck, and frowning in puzzlement as it hits rock bottom almost instantly. I share her concerns --- the puddle appears to be much deeper.

And perhaps it is. Only one way to find out.

I concentrate hard, feeling the hot pulse under my scales. A jolt of flaming silk suddenly snakes out of my wrists, and wraps around a bulk of something inside the dirty rainwater.

For a moment I think it might just be a fallen piece of tree trunk, then a distinct roar of pain echoes across the rainforest, before choking off with a stream of bubbles.

Quick as lightning, I pounce onto a row of smooth scales, dig my talons in, and drag out a screaming MudWing. Her eyes are round with fear and fury, and fresh burn marks crisscross her dark spines and underbelly. She writhes in my grip, her expression twisted with pain.

''Split up,'' I tell the soldiers. ''MudWings always fight in groups. There will be more of them.''

I enjoy the terrified look on her face then, when she realizes who I am --- General Nephthea, the general from Blister's side who knows all about MudWing battle formations. Most dragons, upon discovering a hidden MudWing, would pounce on them and leave the rest time to sneak up for an attack.

They are going to have to find a better way to destroy us.

I lower my head and stare the MudWing in the face. Before a battle, I do not have many things to do while my soldiers carry out my orders, so I have developed an...intresting pastime.

''Do you hear me?'' I hiss. ''Burn will not win. You and your precious tribe's blood will be spilt in rivers, all for nothing. The SeaWings will always prevail.'' I run my tongue over my teeth. ''In fact, Queen Coral will send an assassin after Burn or Scarlet...or Moorhen right this moment, while you are occupied. Or she won't. It all depends on whether this battle today is won or lost to us. If it is lost...well, then I wouldn't want to be Moorhen right then.''

''You can't do that!'' The MudWing's voice cracks in terror. ''Battles are won and lost. It's part of this war!''

I lose it. I am not sure how or when or even why, but I am tearing fevently into my enemy's belly, my violet claws raking deep gashes in her soft underscales. She roars angrily and fights back, her own talons stinging on my nose and her fire burning on my spine. I roll over, my flaming scales pressing into hers and tranferring the fire into her body. I grit my teeth as a wave of agony surges through me. Still, I am lucky---I have partial resistance to fire, so even though the embers felt like they were pressing into my organs and searing them to ash, a normal dragon would have to suffer it literally.

I watch as the MudWing hisses and beats out the flames by rolling over and over on the ground. Then she leaps up and makes for the misty rainforest around us.

''Oh no you don't!'' I race after her, my long legs stretching forward on the rotting leaf litter, my talons catching on tiny nicks on the ground, throwing me forward faster, faster. My muscles whine and complain, but blue-hot rage pushes me to go on.

Kill the MudWing, kill the MudWing, a part of me chants. Show no mercy.

Yes...yes...YES! I scream internally as she stumbles, her foreclaws catching on a tree root. Instantly I am upon her, biting and clawing and tearing, blind and deaf to the world around me.

Suddenly I'm yanked off the soldier by another pair of talons. Hissing, the dragon bites my shoulder, causing a spike of pain to shoot down my leg.

I spin around and come face to face with a gray-white MudWing, and recogonize her in an instant. Pumice. The dragon I almost killed while I was still a resident of the Mud Kingdom. As I watch, she stops, wheezes, clutches her throat and glares hatefully at me.


How many short stories should be in a collection? ›

Short story collections tend to start at about 40,000 words—which can come to about fifteen stories, depending on the length of each one. A short story collection can feature both published and unpublished works.

How many main characters should a short story have responses? ›

There's no magic number for the number of characters in a story. It all depends on the story you're telling and what works best for that story. For example, a story with many characters might benefit from more than one protagonist, while a smaller story might be better served with only one or two main characters.

What is a collection of short stories called? ›

In book publishing, an anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler; it may be a collection of plays, poems, short stories, songs or excerpts by different authors.

How many short stories make an anthology? ›

If you plan to self-publish, here are some tips for self-publishing an anthology. Send out invitations to more writers than you need: An average anthology has around 20 short pieces (if you were wondering how many short stories are in an anthology).

Do collections of short stories sell well? ›

Once you have written enough short stories, they can be placed together into a collection and sold as a regular book or ebook. Collections don't typically sell at the same level as novels, but they're also eligible for their own slate of award nominations.

Do collections of short stories sell? ›

Story collections are very hard to sell.

(It is and it isn't, tbh.) But it is much harder to sell a short story collection before a novel. Why? Because more people buy novels than story collections.

Is 7 main characters too much? ›

The short answer is: no such number exists. You can include as many characters in your novel as you want to. It's your story, and there's no rule book you need to follow on how to write a great story. The creative process is yours to own.

What is the rule of three in short stories? ›

What Is the Rule of Three? Stories that use the Rule of Three work their way into the reader's head through repetition of part of the story. The first two times build tension, and the third releases the tension, either through resolution or a twist.

How many characters is enough for a story? ›

A good rule of thumb might be: Include as many characters as needed to tell the story and evoke the proper style and scope—and no more. For intimate novels, this number might be as small as 2-5 secondary characters, and for broader stories, this number might be 20-30.

Do short story collections need a theme? ›

However, readers don't want you to just throw every short piece you've written together and call it a day. Collections are more successful and impactful if they have an emotional arc and theme.

What is the difference between a short story collection and an anthology? ›

Short stories are often only a few pages long, but are complete with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Anthologies are collections of stories written by different authors, so instead of browsing the shelves, you can browse within the book and see what piques your interest.

Can you have a series of short stories? ›

The collection of linked stories goes by many names, including the short story cycle, short story sequence, composite novel, and novel-in-stories. These collections include stories that are complete in that they can each story can stand alone, but when put together they interrelate and create a larger whole.

How do you format a collection of short stories? ›

Different authors do collections in a couple of different ways. The quick-and-dirty way would be to just print out all your stories in normal short story format, then slap a title page (complete with total estimated word count) and a contents page on top of the stack and call it a day.

How many pages should short stories be? ›

Most short stories seem to be between 1,500 words and 7,500 words long so about 3- 30 pages long (a typical printed page is somewhere between 250 and 450 words) depending on font and print formatting. Also, pages of dialogue may have fewer words, which affects length too.

Do authors in an anthology get paid? ›

Sometimes. It depends on the anthology. Some larger anthologies may pay authors royalties based on a schedule. Others, such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, will pay contributors a flat rate for their pieces and give a discount on buying copies of the book when it comes out.

Do publishers want short story collections? ›

Big publishers want novels because they are more economically viable. They rarely consider short story collections. These collections are more difficult to pitch because agents and editors are not willing to risk signing unknown authors. Only the most skilled writers get preferential treatment from agents and editors.

How much is too much for a short story? ›

The average short story should run anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 words, but they can be anything above 1,000 words. Flash fiction is a short story that is 500 words or less.

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