DoorMy interest in writing short stories started a couple of years ago. I always told myself I had too much to say to write short, so that’s why I wrote novels. I was up for a challenge, though, and when I came across an online short story writing class, I signed up right away. The ultimate assignment for the class was to write a short story.

I’d learned all the tips and how-to’s to write a short story, but I had no clue what my story should be about. I knew was that I wanted to write about a college-age protagonist—something a little different from my young adult, high school main characters—and that she would be going to school to learn special effects makeup.

Why special effects makeup? Face Off, on the SyFy network, is one of my favorite television shows. I love to watch people create whether its baking or remodeling a house or applying special effects makeup. Not only is Face Off entertaining, I actually learn quite a bit about character by watching it as well. The very best makeups on the show happen when the artist takes the time to figure out their character’s story first. The makeup turns out complete and makes sense.  I can’t remember now, but I assume that one of the episodes during the time I was writing the story for my class must have incorporated Alice in Wonderland. My story-writing brain took over, as it tends to do, and Chelsea ended up studying special effects makeup.

Okay, I had my character, but after staring at my computer screen for way too long, I still didn’t know what the story was about. I took a break and went downstairs to get lunch. At that moment, my son asked me “What if that door never opens again?” He meant the door to our guest room. We kept it closed so our cats wouldn’t nap in there and turn it into a furry mess. Just that fast, the idea for Chelsea’s apartment came to me.

Honestly, while I wrote the story, I didn’t know what was on the other side of “The Door.” I knew Chelsea was going through a personal struggle and that she’d find strength within to get through it in the end. That’s what happens with all of my stories, whether I intend it to or not. Persevering in the face of a struggle, and coming out stronger on the other side, is important to me both in my real life and in the lives of those I create.

Written by Shawn McGuire

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