Free Stories

The following stories are free for non-members. This list will be periodically updated with new content. If you like what you see, consider joining the site to support me and gain access to all of my content as soon as I write it.

Original fiction

There’s One Just Like it Everywhere

The guy on the opposite stool was a typical weekday drunk, full of good humor at the pain of others and caustic remarks at nothing at all. That he was polite to me was an oddity; perhaps he sensed that I was different, that I was less tethered to this place and its vices than those of his usual company.

Writing advice

Five Things to Remember When Writing Epistolary Fiction

The epistolary form is a very old one — nearly as old as the Western novel itself — but it continues to find purchase today. It’s a popular style with authors who want to lend an air of day-to-day realism to their works, explore unusual perspectives, or focus on characterization over bloated descriptions. It works for both long- and short-form and lends itself to a variety of story types.

In Search of the Optimal Chapter Length

As a group, new writers are worriers. They’re always troubled that they’re doing something, everything wrong, and end up going in search of some set of rules to tell them what to do. Very often, they find their way to people who are long on confidence but short on hard facts.

Making Your Mark in Modern Serial Fiction

The internet has been a tremendous boon to both writers and publishers of serials, at least as far as distribution and discovery are concerned. What was harder was monetization — but that’s changed in recent years as well. Prospective serial authors have their choice of methods to make money, including Substack, Kindle Vella, Patreon, or even Medium.

Four Simple Tips to Get Started in Flash Fiction

The term flash fiction has been all over the place the last few years. It’s the hot new trend — tiny stories for busy lives (or short attention spans, if you’re less generously inclined). The concept isn’t new, being merely a more elegant term for what we would have once termed “short short fiction,” a phrase of art that reads like a typo. Nevertheless, what was once a literary curiosity is now a significant part of the fiction scene, with dedicated markets and anthologies.

Is the Speculative Fiction Market Getting Harder?

By all accounts, 2020 was an extremely tough year for fiction markets. Many people used their enforced free time to write short fiction and poems, and the markets saw dramatic increases in the number of submissions they received. Since few of these markets were accepting more pieces, this meant greatly increased competition, and writing forums buzzed with complaints over the situation.

Four Empathy-Building Exercises to Improve Dialogue

Dialogue can be a real sticking point for a lot of authors. That’s a strange thought — after all, don’t we all have conversations every day? Why is it so hard to execute in a fictional narrative something that we do without thinking about in real life? The answer often comes down to empathy.

Video games

Lost Sacred Gems: The State of Indie Games in 2022 and Beyond

The truth here is nuanced, as it usually is. The past five years have been rough ones for small teams, but they were also years full of new opportunities that a few devs were able to exploit. The next five years will be no different. But what will those next few years actually look like, and who stands to benefit? It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

Secrets in the Files: Epistolary Stories in Video Games

There is no reason that you couldn’t have an epistolary video game, and I’d argue that it is a much better medium for it than film. Many epistolary novels put the reader into the role of investigator, and a video game takes that to the next level by adding interactivity. It is, on paper, a logical extension, but there is a catch: It is hard to work epistolary elements into a game with conventional gameplay mechanics — it gradually turns into something more like interactive fiction or an ARG.

In Praise of Instruction Manuals

There was a time in my life when I kept better care of my video game instruction manuals than many people do of their books. I was certainly better organized when it came to them, with a carefully chosen spot for each one. The console manuals sat in a plastic carrier, separated by system, occupying a nook under the table that held the consoles.

Clones: The Past and Future of Unofficial Consoles

The Little Conqueror is one of the best known of what are often called “Famiclones” — duplicates of the Famicom or NES that are intended for markets in which the official hardware is unavailable or prohibitively expensive. For many Chinese consumers, this knockoff system was their first real exposure to the world of interactive electronic entertainment.

Essays

No, I Can’t Help You Get an Asian Girlfriend

You see, over the years I’ve had a few gentlemen — not a lot, but enough — ask me how they can “get one, too.” And yes, I’ve have people phrase it exactly like that, so I’d like to ask you a favor before we proceed: Please never say anything like that out loud. Ideally, you shouldn’t think it either, but one step at a time.

A Crisis of Harmony

55% of Americans support limiting the number of Chinese students admitted to the U.S., per a recent Pew survey. It’s not the only result from that survey, and I imagine that for most people, it won’t be their takeaway. To me, though, this is the piece of information that stopped me cold, that grabbed me by the face and wouldn’t let go. A majority of Americans want to keep Chinese teenagers out of the country, and that’s simply the state of affairs in 2021.

Have You Found The Fabulist?

Six years ago, I inadvertently sent a novel overseas, but it was only because I was trying to get it published. It’s not that complicated, I assure you — it does get a little messy, though, and I’m going to be asking you for your help a little for now. For now, just know that this is a story of desperation and misdirected creativity that went a little farther (literally) than I’d imagined.

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Andrew Johnston

Andrew Johnston

Writer of fiction, documentarian, currently stranded in Asia. Learn more at www.findthefabulist.com.