Short Story Planning: Unprincipled

So time has run short today, but I made the 30 day promise. Spitting out a short story seems a bit hopeless at this point so I am therefore using this space as planning for my upcoming short story. Short stories should have the same forethought and planning as novels do. Well, that’s what I think anyway. There’s only so much flying from the seat of your pants you can do.

Be warned, the following will contain spoilers. But if you’re interested in the writing process at all, feel free to take a peek.

Unprincipled (title pending)

A deputy principal is waiting on the current college principal to retire so he can finally fulfill his dream of becoming principal. But when the opportunity comes up he is instead passed up for one of his teacher colleagues. Furious with this decision, the mentally unstable deputy principal wreaks havoc on the school, including threatening the life of the new principal.


Victor Bullock, the deputy principal, speaks to a troublesome student, Troy Keller, about lighting a fire in the boy’s bathroom. He learns the motivations of the student (whose parents recently separated) but he doesn’t sympathise with him. Principal Matthew Edwards speaks to Victor Bullock about his decision to leave the college due to health concerns. He all but guarantees Victor will take his place. We learn Victor has anger issues and takes it out on his office furniture. We are introduced to head of IT, Lucy Williams, who Victor has a troubled relationship with.


Victor finds out he was passed up for the position in favour of Lucy Williams. Principal Edwards leaves the school without speaking to Victor. Victor only just sees him before he drives off in his car, and all Edwards can do is mumble an apology. Victor loses it and enters a manic frenzy; he burns down a school bathroom, throws chairs into windows, and hijacks the PA system, all while school is in session. The kids watch in horror, while some cheer him on.


Victor encounters Sally behind her new desk. Troy Keller is in the area and manages to stop Victor (and call for help) before he does anything too drastic. Victor is brought down by a taser and is taken away from police, while firefighters put out the fire. Troy watches as Victor’s world crumbles around him. We can sense that Troy is at least considering changing his ways.

What’s Next

As you can see I’ve got some ways to go. I have a basic skeletal structure of the thing. But it fails to take in perspective, how much of Victor’s inner thoughts we see, how each character speaks, the design and layout of the school, the actual politics around principal positions, and all the way down to what clothes the staff are wearing.

For this story I’m aiming to focus a lot more on description, action, and environment. In my Thief novel there is heavy dialogue and not much else. That’s all well and good for screenplays, but stories need to paint a picture in the mind. I’m not going to be the next Tolkien by any means, but I do need to work on my narrator handiwork.

As a short story it’s wise not to introduce too many characters, but I feel this main group of characters is integral to the story, and they all have interesting relationships with Victor, the main character.

Stay tuned.

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