Thursday, February 18, 2010

Short Stories

Before I became a novelist, I wrote short stories. I really didn't know what I was doing, (not unusual for me *g*), but I was lucky enough to get a couple published in small regional magazines. And I was thrilled! However, once the series started, shorts fell by the wayside while I concentrated on Ophelia and Abby. Now, things have kind of come full circle-still working on a novel, but I've been invited to write a couple of short stories for two anthologies.

My first invitation came from author Anne Frasier and it's for a Halloween anthology that she's putting together. I've always loved Anne's work and I was both honored and excited to be included in her project. BUT, I'd forgotten one thing...writing short stories is HARD work!!

Why you might ask? Isn't it easier to write a few thousand words versus 70, 80, 100 thousand? All you have to do is create memorable characters, a proper setting, a goal for your protagonist to achieve, throw some glitches in their path on the way to that goal (side note-during that process, I always think of a line from an old pop song, 'You have to be cruel to be kind in all the right measure!' And heaven help me, that's the part I really enjoy!!). Then in the end, resolve all those complications. Ta-Da! Finished! Simple, right? NO, it is NOT!!

In crafting a short story, it's more like BOOM, here's the character, here's the problem, and here's what we're going to do about it. You have absolutely no wiggle room. You can't write paragraph upon paragraph showing the character's inner conflict; you can't spend line after line to create a setting that establishes the proper mood; and the secondary characters that add rich layers to your plot? Forget about it! Get to the action and the quicker the better!

But here's a couple of advantages to writing a short story: 1.It really does help develop your skill. Because the writing has to be so tight, it causes you to take a closer look at your work. You cut out all those superfluous lines. There's no room for them. This can carry over to when you do write something longer, and as a result, that piece will be better for it. 2. When you're writing a novel, it will be months, or several weeks at least, before you get to write MY two favorite words in the English language...THE END! With a short story, the sense of gratification comes a lot quicker. And we're all into instant gratification, aren't we???

So if any of you out there are struggling with your own short stories, here's a website you might find helpful http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/creative/shortstory/index.html I'm visiting it quite often as I work on my second short. (This one is for Trisha Telep and the next MAMMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE.)

Good luck, and to all the writers out there, may all your words be golden!!

Take care and see you next week!

Best,
Shirley

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Maybe that is why some many authors write short stories about already established characters.