Saturday, February 22, 2014

How Do You Write a Short Story?

Monsters in My Head

Well, this 52 story/year is a challenge but it's taught me some amazing things. It's taught me how to work at my most efficient--in other words, goof off at your own peril. Rule of thumb: BE ON THE INTERNET AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE :)  Meaning, social networks like Facebook can really waste valuable time.

As for the writing, generally I know what story will work and what won't. I have to feel something about the idea I have. Sometimes an idea just comes. Actually on second thought it has to always come to you. You can't search for it, at least I can't.

I want to write a profoundly fantastic story about ... that won't work for me. What does work is an idea. Like vampire dolls, or a family that isn't a real family. Think lunatics r us!

If you write horror, you have resident maniacs living in your brain. They are waiting for you to tap into them. They are your natural resource. Does this conflict with what I said about not being able to search for an idea? Not really. You have your own monsters. I have my little lunatic world of horror that I respect because it is kind to me even though it makes me work. No fiction delivered to me on silver platters. No way. Still, I have ideas.

An idea equals a story, right? Nooo! An idea can equal a story. Think of a situation: two lunatics with meat cleavers in a confined space! Seriously, most situations I find that are fraught with the possibility of violence is a good start.

I'm just up to story number 9 (week 9) and I had an idea today, not yesterday--today. I had another idea which I worked on last week in between dying from a chest infection and barely surviving. Actually, I think the glimpse into my own tenuous mortality gave me the meatier idea!

Btw, you know you can work on a few things at one time. I do. Just keep organized. Keep stories in folders. I'm no genius but it does help me. I have finished a great many projects that way.

Remember that advice to write what you know? Well, I find the best part of writing what you know is to write what you feel. To use the emotion of some heartfelt experience of thought to fashion into a story with characters you can believe in. If you can't, no one else will.

I thought I'd write this now--no time to write anything else, I have to go back to my novel. Later, when I take a break I will work on story number 9. I'm happy with it so far, but I have a week to go! So who knows?!

Anyway, happy writing!

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