Back in October when I was prepping for NaStoWriMo, I thought I had a method for taking story ideas and turning them into full stories. I was going to call it my Story Forge and share that process. I did find a method. It worked for maybe two stories.
In the course of writing fifteen story drafts, I found nearly as many ways to work ideas into something readable. Some are still little more than vague ideas after writing three or four thousand words of description, plot, and action. I still need to find the real story in those.
The story forge has become more like a story reveal. If there is any commonality in the process, it is this: story emerges as you write. You may think you have it all worked out but when you put characters on a page and have them interact with things something else develops. The story is revealed through the writing and revision process.
Fifteen stories is not a lot of experience. Still, it has shown nothing but diverse methods of finding a story contained within an idea. The only conclusion I can draw so far is that a story will reveal itself through writing and revision.
Writing 50,000 words of short stories in a month is my personal challenge. I wanted a way to jump start my short writing and this challenge is certainly doing that. My writing tends to be long with many plot threads and an epic scope. Writing short requires focus on a few characters, a single plot, and one or two locations.
Writing short requires depth. Not that an epic shouldn’t be deep, but a short story demands a depth that is apparent and felt in just a few words. Also, specific to genre, the short story does not give much space for world building. I am finding that challenge to be the most enjoyable. Defining the character’s situation within a secondary world or alternate first world in no more than a paragraph or two worth of words is delicious. It can only help in my longer works to be more concise and focused.
Writing this many stories (I’m up to five so far) in a short period of time has also revealed my tendencies and repetitive faults. This may be the most valuable part of the exercise. Rather than learning over the course of a year or two that I always start a short story the same way I see it right away, and I can correct it before any of the stories goes out into the world.
This #NaStoWriMo may be the way I spend next November too.
How is your #NaNoWriMo #NaStoWriMo going?
Here’s an update on my progress through #NaNoWriMo 2018 as a month of short story writing.
It’s late October and I’ve generated enough story ideas for my #NaStoWriMo. So far I have eight really strong ideas and another seven that can probably be worked into strong ideas. During the remainder of the month I will work these ideas into story sketches with plots, characters, and scenes.
I’m developing something of a story forge. The forge is the binding, bending, and rending of ideas, characters, and plots into complete stories. If this story forge works I’ll share it but for now it is a work in progress itself. Still, when November 1st arrives I should be able to start writing the flesh of these stories that were once just bare ideas.
Who’s joining me for 50,000 words of short stories during November? #NaStoWriMo
I mentioned a few months ago that I was going to use this year’s NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words of short stories. Others have tried different versions of a story writing month but this is my plan for 2018.
In September and October I’m dreaming up ideas then giving each idea a star rating with three stars meaning it has everything it needs to be a story. In October I will settle on ten to twelve three-star story ideas and flesh out who’s in them, what the main conflicts are, andfigure out the motivations and settings.
In November I will write each of the there-star stories until I reach 50,000 words.
I want to do this for a few reasons. First, I’ve done NaNoWriMo three times and succeeded all three times. Last year, even while traveling and in the first week attending the World Fantasy Convention, I reached the goal early. When I am committed to a month of writing, hitting 50,000 words is not really a challenge any more. That is not a brag. By working through previous years I have developed a writing discipline that lets me produce fairly quickly. Editing is another story, but I can get a draft down much faster than when I first tried NaNoWriMo.
Second, I need to write more short stories. I have enough novel ideas for the next ten years. What I need are short stories. This is partly because I feel the form fits certain story ideas I want to write. It is also because there is truth in the fail often principle.
I know none of the stories written during November will be ready to submit. That’s not the point. I will have at least eight or ten stories to edit and give me nearly a year’s worth of submissions if I edit one a month.
NaNoWriMo is great for social writing, motivation, and feeling accomplished. Even if you don’t make 50,000 words its worthwhile. You get something written and that’s really the point. So I’ll be using the community of NaNoWriMo to support my short story writing. If you wish to join me, use #NaStoWriMo on Twitter and we’ll provide our own sub-support group.
Note: #NaStoWriMo is not affiliated with NaNoWriMo in any way.