Short stories: Discuss.

All right blogosphere, twitterverse, facebookers…enlighten me.

Short stories. Explain.

No, seriously. With my draft still out there, I have been spending some time toying with ideas for Book 2 (and, um, Book 3), but I realize that this is the perfect opportunity for me to be working on some unrelated shorter fiction and seeing what happens. The problem is that, aside from the ghost story I posted on here (which I am admittedly very happy with) I really do find shorts to be a challenge.

I think the main issue stems from the fact that I am essentially a pantser when it comes to writing. My outlines are always extremely vague, if I have them at all. Yes, this does lead to the occasional crisis when I realize that I either don’t know what’s happening next or don’t know how to get to the next part I know is just beyond the wall.  But I can’t do that with short stories. With such a word count limitation, I don’t feel I can just sit down and let my imagination take over. I have to know not only where it is headed (the ending) but exactly how it’s going to get there.

Endings are perhaps the largest part of that struggle for me. How do you know when to stop? Where does it end? Some of the short stories I’ve read have endings that leave me breathless. I want to be able to do that! Can I? Maybe?

Yes. I’m sure I can. I’m sure I can do this. That being said, I’d still appreciate hearing your experiences, frustrations, successes and advice.

So, please, discuss. How long do yours tend to be? Is there a common, general length? How do you know where to end them? How do you stop yourself from going on (and on and on?)


Ask and you shall receive. Sort of.

Further attesting to my sleep deprivation and head-stuffiness: the flash fiction contest is NOT open for another two weeks. Voting is closed, so just let me reiterate once more thank you so much to those who voted, to those who liked it, and to those who asked me to consider expanding it. Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed and see how everything plays out.

Onwards. In my last post (which was yesterday! I know!) I whined noted that I haven’t had any writing to work on lately. Editing (for other people) yes, but no writing of my own, and no real editing of my own projects either. Last night, however, I had my Wordsmiths meeting and the last exercise was to write for twenty minutes based on a visual prompt – in this case, one of three paintings that our chair for the evening brought in. I love these exercises because they force me to write and they force me to write something other than whatever giant WIP I have going on at the moment. Anyhow, sometimes I find these exercises to be a real challenge, particularly if I haven’t slept or if I have a cold, or, you know, both. But last night I just ran with it and what I came up with I can see expanding either into a short or possibly into a longer work. If it looks like it is going to be on the longer side, I’ll have to settle for notes and maybe a scene here or there. The current work has to come first. But for now, it is simmering, and it’s nice to have something writing-related to toy with for a bit.

This morning I was also considering my WIP and managed to get myself very excited at the thought that maybe I could at least start working on the first set of chapters. After all, most (though not all) of my draft readers have made it to at least Chapter 3. Maybe I could get those back at least and by the time I’d made those revisions, my readers would have more for me to work on. Then, just as I was really getting into the little dance I was doing in my head at the thought of getting back at it, the bigger picture occurred to me. This will be fourth draft. I can’t work on it piecemeal. My readers are going to be giving me their suggestions not only line by line but overall – if they want me to change something in Chapter 21 that gets alluded to in Chapter 4, I need to have the whole thing in front of me so that there aren’t continuity errors. I hope that there’s nothing major but I recognize now that I really can’t work on the earlier bits while waiting for later ones.

So much for that plan.

And so, while it seemed like I suddenly had all kinds of writing projects suddenly springing up around me, what I actually have is at least one new thread dangling in front me – or possibly two, since I’m still considering another writing prompt exercise from a couple of weeks ago as well (ooo! Wait…I’m suddenly realizing a possibility for combining those! Hmmmmm.).


But hey, that’s more than I had yesterday!


Sniffles and yawns

First of all, I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has left me votes on my flash fiction – and an extra thank you to those of you who sent me separate emails to tell me how much you enjoyed it! I stepped well out of my comfort zone on this one in both length and genre and was told more than once that I should expand it into a longer work. So thank you, thank you, thank you! The contest is on for another couple of weeks…I’m doing well, but if you know anyone else who might enjoy it and want to send a vote my way, please pass it along.   (oops. Contest is now closed. But thank you!)

I haven’t done as much writing of my own as I’d like to lately, other than that flash fic. It’s been difficult because I’m used to trying to cram in writing every single spare second, and I do believe that I should do at least a little bit everyday. The problem at the moment is what to work on. Draft three is still out with most of the test readers. I’ve received full feedback from one but I can’t really move ahead on anything until I’ve heard from everyone. Similarly,  I had my second chapter (or rather, the first three-quarters of it) critiqued in class last week. Overall, the reviews were very positive (yay!) and the most common request was to provide “more”. As for the other suggestions, those still have to wait until I’ve heard back from the test readers. I’ve started playing a bit with Book 2 in my head, but aside from a few jotted notes I haven’t been able to write much down for it. I don’t have the full story mapped out in my mind just yet and I’m not exactly one for making huge outlines either. I have a short story that I’ve been working on here and there but it stalled out a bit. I reopened it today to take a look and I may make another go at that pretty soon – perhaps I’ll provide that as my next piece to be critiqued in my class. Having something other than my novel to look at should throw everyone off.

So what have I been doing? Well, a lot of editing. I finished up editing manuscript one for my friend and have now started on manuscript two. I also have critiquing for my class, so it isn’t as though I have nothing to do. And then of course there’s Baby D, who has decided that, since I have a really bad head cold, now would be an excellent time to stop sleeping through the night.


I’ve been very badly wanting to write for the past several days, even to take a shot at the outline of Book 2 or reconnect with that short, but this head cold coupled with lack of sleep has not been making it easy. Mostly what I want to do is sleep. I’m trying not to worry about my lack of writing-productivity, but it’s not been easy, especially as I’m pretty sure my “me-time” during the days is about to get shortened due to a number of factors. I might have to go back to the 5am consideration…though this morning Baby D was up at 4:30, so that won’t necessarily help.

I managed to write through the summer holidays with Kid A and Baby D at home…surely I can find a way to keep writing now. You know, once I can breathe through my nose again.