Thursday 22nd February 2018
One of the things I’ve been working on now Book 2 first draft is done and the ideas for book 3 are still being formed, is to work on a short story.
I was asked to work on a short story last year and plotted out ahead of any form deadline. But after a mix up, the deadline never came through and the anthology was filled. I was a bit annoyed because I had put quite a bit of work into the ideas for this story but just moved onto the next thing. Snarfus happen all the time in publishing and it really isn’t worth your time getting worked up. Many of the outlets are being run part-time or on incredibly small budgets. It’s nothing personal and I always get a bit ‘eye-rolly’ when someone publishes some tirade or other because they feel like they were screwed over.
Sure, behind the scenes, there’s absolutely a list of people and publishers I’d never work with. But that’s my personal opinion. And just because I might find a few people or companies unprofessional, doesn’t mean I need to be.
So I get stiffed, I might decide not to take it personally and attribute it to a mistake or “one of those things”, or I might just vow never to work with that individual or company again in which I keep that information to myself and private chats over beers with other authors.
But in this case, events changed where a story was needed, and because of the mix up, I got asked to submit.
This has been a strange short story to write as I’ve attacked it piecemeal. I usually write linearly over one or two sessions on consecutive days. With this one I’ve been dabbling with it more, dipping in and out inbetween other things and trying to piece it together.
Behind the scenes, this is a story where I want to improve my craft. I want a tighter story, I want prose that sings without becoming purple. There are familiar elements. For example, this story is in present tense like the Shade Knight books. And whilst I wanted to change that, it makes sense for the story. Plus, I think it’s easy to push yourself too far and change everything.
The first draft is done and the story needs to be in by the end of the month. I’m hoping to get another draft done by early next week.
What do I want to do in this draft? I want to ensure that the story builds. The POV character has a lot of doubts and I want to ensure that rather than repeating the same worries or flitting back and forth, that his insecurity builds over the course of the story and has an arc of its own.
There’s also no dialogue in this story and it’s been amazing how doing this has reduced the word count considerably. But does that leave the story too vague? I want the meaning to reside with the reader rather than the author (and I’ve planted a lot of hooks for the reader to latch onto to support whatever theory they may have), but the story can’t be that wishy-washy that the reader is lost.
Ironically, I think a tighter story will result in even less word count. That scares me a lot but I think part of this exercise is about trying to paint more detailed pictures with less words.
Challenges like this are good. Not only do they make a break away from the world I’ve now written several books in, but they are a place where I get to play with style and form.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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