A friend of mine had the wonderful idea to take on a 52 short story challenge. It’s 52 prompts, and the idea is that you do one a week as a short story. After all, how can you write that many terrible stories with no improvement?
Being an optimist, I decided to join said challenge. I was already a few weeks behind then, and I had no doubt I should be able to catch up. After all, instead of actually writing the stories, I had decided to use the challenge as an exercise in planning. My big writing weakness is that I can’t plan, even in editing. Needless to say, because I can’t use a plan to work out where to put things in, or take them out, editing is a daunting task so I have avoided it as much as possible.
I set out to find some planning tools for short stories. I have never really been good at keeping things concise, and as such fell with ease into the rambling style of vomit copy novels. And National Novel Writing Month has helped me hone that particular skill very well. I can get a vomit copy done quite comfortably now. So I started where I had found most of my information on story structure options lately, Google. And that was a giant, terrifying maze that I didn’t even know how to navigate apart from bookmarking things I would definitely find time to come back to while awake…
After listening to Jim Butcher’s Side Jobs on audio-book, I decided to see if I could find a plan to write short stories like he did. So I went to Karen Woodward’s blog, which has a great list of articles from Jim Butcher’s own blog that makes it easy to find what you need. And then I found more of her articles. Posts? I don’t really know the correct term, article seems too formal and blog too informal… I took a lot of notes, in a new notebook, of course.
What that left me with was the very real, debilitating fear of getting the story ‘right’. My focus became picking the right story for the right prompt, and making the plot interesting, the characters dynamic, and somehow making it sound like it should be a short story. I became so determined to get it ‘right’ that I’m now another two weeks in and I have nothing even plotted!
Before catching up get too overwhelming, I’m going to head over to the Lester Dent articles again and see if I can make them work for me. They are based on a murder mystery, but the essence of the outline is sound. It’s a series of articles, so I’ll read one at a time and get each section done before moving on to the next. Slow, steady, determined progress will get me through. It has with the ponies, so why not with writing?
To save time and dragging myself through the wringer looking for new characters, I’ll be using one of my handy dandy cast from a previous story. Lili, from The Cat’s Daughter project, is going to help me by being my default main character. After all, if I run out of ideas, I can rope in gods to make things happen. Literally. It should mean that when I come back to rewriting her actual story, there is more to work with. Fingers crossed.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to see what the Plot Bunnies have in mind.