Sam shares his recipe for a short story

Words by Samuel Maguire

Pictures by Lucy O’Doherty

Published on June 15, 2012

A writer has to write. Every now and then you are going to have to pull yourself together, draw on all of your shitty experiences and horrible trains of thought, and then you will have to write words and fit them together and call it a story.

(This does not mean posting up shitty erotic fan-fiction on the internet. If you tell me you are doing this and that it qualifies you to call yourself a writer then I am sorry but I will joke about how terrible you are to your face at a party, even if you are from Canada.)

Every writer has their own process, a way to maximise their creativity. Some find small ways to boost their confidence. Some rely on substances to wash away the voices calling them names. Some are complete dicks and can just write anything at any time and rely on natural talent to see them through.

Writers have their own superstitions and prayers because in the end there is no way to tell if the next few thousand words you are about to put down are going to be your best work or if they will confirm that you should go back to your job working at KFC.

If you are new to this here is a quick recipe for writing short stories that I made with my creative ability.


Short Story: a recipe

The Short Story originated in India as a form of hot curry. Favoured by warriors, the meal would warm them for the coming trials of battle. As the Indian Empire spread across the world in the 1960s, the short story became a popular meal in all the countries under the tyrannous reign. In present times the short story is still a basic meal for school children and people who never stop being school children. It is able to invoke a wide range of flavours and feelings and even able to bump your grade up a mark if you are not very academic.


1 bottle Cheap Port
1 pack Cigarettes
3 pots Coffee
1 Shitty Notebook with Drawings of Skeletons in Margin
1 Computer (or Typewriter, If You Are a Dick)
1 fit Passion
1 Trouble (can be either with Yourself or Society or God)
Anxiety for Flavour
Creativity or Higher Learning (Optional)


  1. Marinate self with entire bottle of Cheap Port on night prior to meal preparation. Make sure you think about as many troubles as you can. You might want to get either sad about your sex life or passionate about the technological singularity and make your friends uncomfortable.
  2. Forget to take any sleeping medication you have. Simmer in own alcoholic juices for 1 night.
  3. As your brain simmers over the night you may find you have many dreams about invisible demons torturing you. Ignore these. You have some self respect now and don’t want to be a horror writer. What were you thinking anyway? No wonder girls avoided you at parties.
  4. Wake up at 4am. Add 3 cups of tap water. Remove any urine and let it sit on the floor next to the toilet.
  5. You will now find 1 meaningful and thought-provoking dream bubbles up from your subconscious. Wake rapidly and violently and smash any fragile objects on your bedside table.
  6. Spend the morning in bed worrying about everything until the smell of your own booze sweat gives you the heaves.
  7. Check the internet because you are pretty sure you made a hilarious Facebook status last night and someone is sure to have liked it by now. Repeat every fifteen minutes.
  8. Spend the next 4 hours procrastinating. This can be done with any amount of webcomics, blogs or videogames. Procrastinate just enough to feel guilty but not enough to stop you thinking you are a genius even though you are lazy.
  9. Add another 10 cigarettes and 1 pot of coffee. Spend time thinking that your meaningful and thought-provoking dream is either a sign from God or proof that the aliens are finally coming. Do this until your ego inflates enough so that you think your opinions matter.
  10. Have enough showers to reduce your important revelations into ideas for short stories where the main character is terminally depressed and anxious.
  11. Add Fit of Passion, stirring in 1 Cigarette and 1 Cup of Coffee per 300 words written down. Continue until you can come up with a funny closing sentence.
  12. Use any excess creativity to come up witty Facebook statuses and blog posts about how society has done you up.
  13. Serve instantly to any family members who you know will say nice things about how great a writer you are.

Serves one terrible mess of a person.

Sam Maguire is a writer from Circumstances, Ipswich. He has enough brain problems to keep making funny jokes and enough dark tragic secrets to keep him drinking, smoking and looking tortured. He is the first writer to be featured in our Struggling Writers Residencies and also hosts the Stilts Book Club.