by Dave White
I have completely forgotten how hard short stories are to write.
Usually, when I sit down to write something, I have a character, or a line, and I just kind of go from there. I can meander through the piece and figure out where I'm going with it. I can play around and see what works. Eventually, a few months and a few thousand words later, I have a completed draft. I, then go into revision mode and find out why, if, and how the story works.
Not with a short story.
For some reason, I always think short stories should be written quickly. A blur of white hot writing and bam, you have a new story that ready to be sent out for publication. But it never works that way.
In fact, short stories might be harder that writing a draft of a novel. You can't meander through a short story. You can't figure out what it's about. You have to know.
And right now, I don't know.
I have a great opening line. I have a character... and then I've got nothing.
Every morning a new idea pops into my head, telling me what the story's about. And by the afternoon I've rejected it.
But it's been so long since I've completed a short story. Not since "Righteous Son" in the Killer Year Anthology. And thinking back... that was almost 3 years ago I wrote that story.
So it's been a while.
Time to get back into the routine.
Time to take a break from the marathon and go back to the sprint. Just to see if I can still do it.
But man, can I feel my muscles burning as I do.
Pain is a good thing, right?
(This will be my last post published as a man in my 20s... Whoa.)
Last post in your 20s? Age is just a number, Dave. Now the memory loss, THAT'S a clear sign of age.
Short stories are about cutting things out-a painful process at best. It's scary to find out how much you can cut and improve it.
Happy birthday! Or, happy sex change! (Your post was a bit vague on which it was.)
That's exactly how I feel like a short story should be written... and exactly why I write so few! My friends who pay more attention to them have a lot better time of it.
Good luck :) And happy birthday.
Yeah, happy birthday.
Birthday is next Thursday. So my next post will be my first as a 30 yr old. Thanks for the wishes.
You keep writing them, we'll keep reading them.
I have a similar feeling about short stories, which is why i have turned more to flash in the last year or so when I'm looking for something shorter to write. These sometimes grow into short stories, but that's a more organic process and seems to work better for me.
THANK YOU for expressing the same sentiment I've struggled with all year. I've forgotten the routine to write. After writing/submitting/getting published my first western this year, I've stopped being a writer and become solely a blogger. I've written only one other thing, the first chapter to a steampunk story, and that's it. I'm having to relearn what it's like to write. And I've given myself a method--read: gimmick--to kick-start my next novel. More on that later...
I have the same problem, Dave. On a number of occasions, I've written a few lines, I had a character or two ready to go, and some kind of situation to put them in--all with a short story in mind. Next thing you know, I'm 10,000 words in, with no end in sight, so they became novels.
I do have some short stories, but only about a dozen. With those, I pretty much had the whole thing in my mind from the get-go. It's when I start off with slender threads of ideas that I find myself in novel territory. But when I have the whole story more or less scoped out, it really is a relatively quick process.
I was just at Bouchercon, and on the plane ride to Indianapolis, I started what looked to me like a novel. But the more I worked on it, I told myself, "Must..make...this...a...short...story..." I had to force myself, but I just compressed the action and the plot into a single turn of events, and presto! There it was. I think it's one of my best. I submitted it as soon as I got home.
Maybe if you tried that...that is, starting off thinking you're doing a novel, but make yourself narrow the whole thing down before you get too deep into it.
Post a Comment