Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Writing Short Stories

Today I thought I'd share how I write short stories. I have quite a few floating around on-line, and I've just been informed that I'll have another published sometime in 2009 (making that two I'm now waiting on). You can look in the December 2008 section of this blog (My Stories Pt. 1; Pt. 2; and Pt. 3) for examples of my work--all but two of my published short stories are represented there.

Basically my technique for creating these stories is quite simple. I don't plot, create characters, or usually even have an ending. I almost always simply have an idea that sparks my interest. When I get one of these ideas, I just start writing (or I write the idea down in my Story Idea Notebook for future creation). Sometimes the story just jumps out of my head and onto the paper and it's all I can do to keep my pen up to speed with my brain. Other time (most times!) I spit out a paragraph or two and then need to tinker with the idea. While this part can be frustrating, it's also the fun part of writing, in my humble opinion. Creativity can run wild. After I've run a few "What if?" scenarios through my head, I'm usually good to go--until I get stuck again and run through the process again.

If I can get my story moving, I don't usually think up an ending until I'm almost there. It's fun when I get to the ending and am surprised with how it turned out. Other times, if I'm having trouble getting through the story, yet it's an idea that still excites me, I will make sure I think up an ending so I know where my final destination is. Usually this helps me focus and get to the goal. If not, I'll put the story aside, move onto something else, and let my subconscious tackle the problem. If it really is a good story idea, it won't be too long before I can move back to it and finish up. If not, well, maybe I wasn't ready to get that story out. And that's the good thing about short stories--they don't take much time out of your writing life, so if you need to abandon one, you haven't lost months like with novels or screenplays, usually just hours (or sometimes, but rarely, days).

Basically that's how I write my short stories. I just get an idea and write it. I don't turn on my inner editor until after I've finished the first draft and start with the revisions. One thing I like to do while writing, in addition to playing "What if?" is to ask myself how I can amp up the strangeness factor. It's a sure way to get my creative juices flowing during the writing process. Other than that, I just write. Sometimes I finish in one sitting, sometimes it takes a few days, but I write.

I hope this inspires some with their own stories. On another note, those of you who have been paying attention (I don't know who is--feel free to comment on any article!) may notice I did not post an update on Saturday. I've decided to publish this blog only on Wednesdays for now. So, until next week, keep reading and/or writing!