Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Story Behind the Story: A Change of Plans

Where do short stories come from?

During the course of these blog posts, I’ve written about origins firmly couched in childhood, and ideas that showed up in last week’s shower. I’m related ways that I glue unlike ideas together or bend real life events to fit a dramatic structure.

But rarely do these things write themselves.

Let’s fact it. Real life is boring. Even a momentary spate of excitement is most often surrounded on all sides by a lot of talking and sitting around. Not the stuff that keeps readers turning pages.

Ah, but sometimes there are those rare, golden moments.

“Change of Plans” is a story some of you may have read. I included it in a selection of stories for Kindle, and it’s in my print collection Tough Job at Driftwood.

Here’s a fine example of real life quilted into the weave of the page.

My son, Wyatt, is color-blind. We’ve known it since he was four or five, but we rarely think about it.

A few years ago, Wyatt and I were riding over the Flint Hills of Kansas in the middle of June.

Never before had I seen grass so green unrolling before us like an endless carpet. The white flecks of flint invited us to stop, and we had some fun hiking along a friendly trail.

“C’mon, deputy. Let’s mount up on horseback and ride across this here range,” I said.

“Isn’t it all a beautiful orange?” Said Wyatt.


“Well...yeah,” he said.

Then I remembered his visual condition.

“Good thing I’m not sending you after an outlaw in a green shirt,” I said.

“Good thing the sheriff’s not wearing an orange shirt,” he said. “I wouldn’t know which one to plug.”

And that was it.

Got back to the car. Wrote it down.

After growing up on a Nebraska farm, Richard Prosch worked as a professional writer, artist, and teacher in Wyoming, South Carolina, and Missouri. His western crime fiction captures the fleeting history and lonely frontier stories of his youth where characters aren’t always what they seem, and the windburned landscapes are filled with swift, deadly danger. In 2016, Richard roped the Spur Award for short fiction given by Western Writers of America. Read more at www.RichardProsch.com


  1. The writer's mind notices, "Hmm, that's weird..."
    That bit of inspiration was too good to pass up. Nice little piece of flash fiction!

  2. Thanks, Vonn! You're right: the writer's mind picks up on all that stuff--the good and the bad! Gina says I often practice catastrophic thinking, but I blame the writer!

  3. I think that a big part of being a western writer is being able to recognize those little, mundane, day-to-day things that other people don’t even think about; and then speculating on how that might have impacted people 150 years ago. In all of the countless western books and stories that I have read over the years, I don’t think that I have ever come across a character that was color-blind.

    1. Thanks, Michael! Really appreciate what you're saying. Yes, it's the little things that make up most of life!

  4. Great insight, as usual, Richard. I like to learn a little from writers about the genesis of their stories. In my collected short stories (6 volumes) I add an Afterword doing just that. The western collection (Vol.3) is VISITORS. http://authl.it/B06XK4K5C3

    1. Thank you, Nik! I'll pick it up and enjoy reading your afterwords. Much obliged!