I tried to revise a story I like a great deal, but it just seems to sputter and lacks the fire I envision for it. I guess I just keep plugging away until it catches. It felt better after spending a few hours with it.
I recently set myself a goal of developing one new short story idea per week (and ideally writing a draft each week) so I pieced together the rough sketch for this week’s story. I don’t outline short stories but I note each event and scene and try to get it into order. The first draft includes setting and dialog, so right now this story is a sketch, not a draft.
I also realized, while I have several poems here on the site, I don’t have any stories up. I’ll try to rectify that this week.
Lot’s of deep editing today. I only worked on short stories and concentrated on ensuring my central idea of the story, theme, if you will, was present and focused throughout the story. As Jeanne Cavelos recently pointed out, theme usually comes after a few drafts. To help me find a story’s theme I’ve started writing a ‘why this story’ paragraph and put it on a separate page at the end. This does a few things. One, it forces me to state the theme in a sentence or two so I can go back and make sure I’m representing it and that it’s unifying the story. Second, it’s a note to my future self about where the story came from and why I thought it was important enough to write. Third, sometimes a market will ask why you wrote a story, and this is a head start on that answer.
Cleaned up three short stories. The Bottle of Salvation Containing the Nectar of Ruin and Paltry Sums are up for a final read over, hopefully, and will then be off for submission. Eyes Behind the Veil is going off to a Beta reader this weekend. NaNoStoMo in place of NaNoWriMo is paying off. Glad I did it, and I may do the same this year.
I don’t like the working title of the novella series so I played with that. It doesn’t have to be perfect before writing, and it will likely change during the writing, but I like to have something solid as I start. That way it isn’t bugging me and I can get on with the writing. TKC is the working acronym for now.
Besides the title I looked at the map and thought about the story. Yes, those count as writing.
Today I returned to my story, Melina Unbound. Made some progress with Melina’s voice. She still isn’t the bitter, angry young girl she’s supposed to be but it’s better. I find I have to keep going over her words (she has no dialogue but it’s first-person so all the words are hers) and find new ones that don’t just relate what’s happening but also tell about her and her emotions. The first thing was to use contractions. Then there had to be more than a description of the food but what she thinks of it as she describes it.
The first draft was third-person and I’m still finding her and replacing with I. I’m also trying to figure out where the section breaks should be. There are jumps in time that need to be set off by a break, and there are more significant breaks where something fundamental in the story has changed. Something like a combination of paragraph breaks, scene breaks, and then story shifts represented by what? An extra break that becomes scroll art in the final copy?
I can worry about that later. I just need to finish this 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?