We are looking for Science Fiction and Fantasy short stories.
Flash Fiction: 200 – 1500 words
Short Stories: 1,500 – 5,000 words
Poems: up to 900 words
Our sweet spot is stories between 2,500 and 3,750 words. Payment is $0.06/word for new fiction, $0.03/word for reprints.
We want to see stories of hope and advancement. The human adventure is just beginning. Open up the universe. Show us the better angels of our nature.
Visit our Reader’s portal to experience what DreamForge has to offer. https://dreamforge.mywebportal.app/
Most common problems we see as flaws in the works submitted to us:
Excess Exposition: Many stories we see “tell” us about the story rather than letting us “experience” the tale through the actions of the protagonist in overcoming the challenges before them. Keep your explanations, world building, and background info to a bare minimum. In fact, keep only what is absolutely essential to understanding the story.
Lack of Character Agency: Your protagonist is not there to have the story happen around them or be rescued in the end by a third party. Have your characters face their challenges squarely and suffer the trials and tribulations of the adventure.
Overt Messaging: Whether it’s climate change, gender equality, authoritarianism, animal cruelty, or whatever your particular political passion may be, avoid using your story as a soap box from which to make your point. You may be right; you may be wrong, but we guarantee that the more message, the duller the tale. Weave your worldview in subtle threads; don’t oversalt the soup; balance out your bombastic impulses, etc.
Lack of Focus: Put simply – what the hell is going on here? All stories need not have a predictable, well laid structure. But when the beginning, middle, and end have virtually no relationship to one another, seem to be separate adventures, and may even be seen from the viewpoint of different characters, it can be a bit too much. For a simple, but serviceable story structure, see our 9 point story structure below.
Stories come in many patterns and variations. If you’re a beginning writer looking for a basic narrative structure, here’s a 9-step pattern that can produce good results.
How does it work? Here’s an example plot using the above pattern.
Orientation: Protagonist is a Mars shuttle pilot on regular transport run between Tharsis base and Olympus Mons observatory.
Character Flaw: She takes unnecessary risks and has been reprimanded for doing so.
Threshold Event: A Marsquake associated with a newly active volcanic rift creates an unexpected dust storm.
Narrative Hook: The order comes to divert course, but the Protagonist wants to experience this never-before-seen natural occurrence. She ignores the recall and her shuttle is immediately affected and must make an emergency landing, endangering her passengers.
Obstacle One: One of the passengers is injured and they need to call for help, but coms are out. They need to leave the ship to set up a special antenna. This succeeds and they call for help.
Obstacle Two: In working outside the ship, they see that the quake has unearthed an artifact of manufactured material. A lava flow is heading toward it. The protagonist, driven by their Character Flaw, takes another risk to approach the artifact.
Obstacle Three: The injured passenger is getting worse. The eruption has begun to threaten the shuttle. The help cannot arrive in time. The protagonist must solve the situation.
Climax: The protagonist puts everyone at risk trying to get a sample of the artifact, which delays her work on getting the passengers to safety. At great risk to self and at risk of losing entire shuttle, protagonist saves a small piece of material and yet still gets the shuttle moving. The day is saved, but it’s a close call.
Denouement: Upon their return the protagonist loses her job and her pilot’s license; however, examination shows that the artifact is from Earth, appears manmade, but is 100 million years old. End with great mystery. At least protagonist’s name will be in the history books for this find.
I’m sure there are logic flaws to work out and concepts that need research, and such – but that’s a perfectly workable story and it took less than 10 minutes to plot. Start with the pattern and approach your plotting like improv. Make it flow, one concept building on the next, and then have fun fleshing it out!
Need an idea? Here are some to play with.
Science Fiction – In the next couple centuries, there are likely to be many orbital habitats in our solar system (cities in space). What will happen when political or religious oppression, plague or physical disaster, or simple resource mismanagement pushes groups of people to try to find refuge in another such colony?
Fantasy – A world where the use of Magic has drained life force from the environment, degraded the structure of reality, or has effects like being exposed to radiation – yet magic is so useful in all other respects that banning its use would be like banning medicine, electricity, and clean water.
Science Fiction – Technology is becoming more interconnected all the time. Soon your refrigerator will place a grocery order and send a self-driving car to pick it up. An exciting job might be the security expert who un-hacks your house. All your troubles might not be from ransomware, though. The haunted house of the future might be taken over by the wandering digital presence of a deceased, but uploaded person.
Fantasy – A character is drawn to a mysterious item in a pawn shop and has to sell everything they own to afford it. They soon realize the object allows them to know the worth of anything or anyone and draws them to the person who will pay the highest price. They quickly become rich, but also despondent when they realize that they themselves have no value to anyone.
Science Fiction – Flip the tables on the privacy debate. Everyone thinks privacy is a priority and privacy from mass data is a good thing. However, what if even today, media provided a scrolling list of everyone, by name, dying of COVID? How would that effect people’s choices of getting or not getting vaccinated, when they can see that 10 people living within a few square miles of their home have succumbed to a preventable disease. Imagine a future society in which prioritizing individual privacy causes harm.
Fantasy – Moneyball for Mages. In baseball, the concept of moneyball is that if you find the value of players in statistical analysis, you can put together a competitive team from what seems a group of weak players. Imagine a world where someone applies this idea to a team of rather unassuming magic users, but who, when working together, can be focused into a powerful competitive force in your world’s magical power structure.
Science Fiction – We’ve all seen the Science Fiction story where someone is duplicated or teleported. Which copy is real? Is the teleported version of you – you, or is it a brand new being with a brain full of memories? Let’s make it harder. What if, over the course of a lifetime, your body and brain are replaced, one piece at a time, slowly and intermittently. When do you stop being you? When the last bit of flesh falls away and you are wholly machine? It’s an old argument in the metaphysics of identity, usually referred to as the “Ship of Theseus.”
Fantasy – What if the King could make everyone who disagreed with him vanish from the realm? At first it might seem that he had gotten rid of all the troublemakers and there would be nothing but smooth sailing ahead. But humans, by their nature, fragment ideologically and champion opposing views. No matter how successfull the spell at routing out and banishing disagreement, with every iteration of the magic, there would be less and less people until only the King remained.
Disclaimer: These ideas may or may not be original, convergent ideas are common. DreamForge makes no copyright or monetary claim on these story prompts. Have fun.