Brandon Sanderson Lecture #7 – Short Stories with Mary Robinette Kowal

This video that introduced me to the world of Brandon Sanderson. I did a review of it earlier this year. You can find it here. This time around, I’m not going to do notes. Instead I’m going to attempt to write a short story using the guidelines that Mary sets forth. For each part of the story, she gives you just a few minutes to write it. Not much time at all, so I’ll have to be on my “A” game. No telling how good or bad the story will be, but it will be interesting to try it. I’ve set a timer on my phone for each part. Here goes:


Nick the engine jockey cursed under his breath at the weight of the diamond core engine he needed to tote to the star coaster engine bay.

Getting it down the ladder safely was going to be tricky. The anti-grav unit was on the fritz yet again, sparking angrily every time he tried to turn it on.

Nick grabbed a hoist and hooked it to the eyebolt over the ladder. Hooking the end of the chain to the engine, he pulled mightily to lift it. The engine lifted a few inches and then tipped over which is a very bad thing for a diamond core engine. He quickly set it back down on the deck and rolled it upright hoping he hadn’t damaged it.

In a fit of frustration, Nick kicked the anti-grav unit. As he was hopping in pain, the unit came online and lifted the engine. Hurriedly he unhooked the engine from the chain hoist and guided it down the ladder before the anti-grav unit conked out again. He set the engine in place and made the necessary connections. Closing his eyes and hoping the engine wasn’t damaged, he flicked the on switch.

The diagnostics startup flashed on the display screen. No faults! Nick was relieved and hoped that he would never have to replace the engine again.


This story was 219 words which is right in line with the guidance that Mary said we would be doing a 250 word story.

For a quickie story, it doesn’t look to bad to me. What do you think?

All lectures of Brandon Sanderson are now linked on the Storylines page if you wish to follow along in order.

10 thoughts on “Brandon Sanderson Lecture #7 – Short Stories with Mary Robinette Kowal

  1. An engine jockey, cool. I thought you did a great job delineating Nick’s goal, obstacle, and his try-fail cycle. There is quite a bit of suspense in just a few words. If you got to choose your very own character (instead of having to start with a science fiction jockey), I think it would have been even better.

    Liked by 1 person

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