Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why Short Stories

One of the reasons I wanted us to talk about short stories this week is because I've been forced (by my own desire to improve) to make tough choices about my writing.

Over the past few years, I've focussed solely on writing novels. That's all I ever had time for, and I figured that if I was going to get a writing career going around a day job that gives me NO free time, I needed to MAKE my dedicated writing time all about a novel.

I learned a lot through that process, and I discovered something about myself: part time, if I stick with it, I can write a full novel in 13 months. And I mean write, edit, and polish. But now that I have a finished novel and another one in the works, what do I do when I'm struggling with inspiration?

Short stories. In a novel, the characters can mull over choices, take their time to come to conclusions, and meander through the world at a pace that fits the story. In a short, space is EXTREMELY limited. Choices have to be made in a hurry (maybe not on the writer's part, but certainly by the characters).

It's changing how I look at my writing, and I'm also having to relearn how to take critique. My novels have gotten fairly comfortable notes over the past year. Stuff that I agree with, and notes that point out problems I already know about. But my last short story got a lot of feedback that sent me back to the early days of getting critiqued. Notes that made me completely rethink what I wrote (for the better), but only after I squelched the knee-jerk "did you even READ the story?" and "how could you miss something SO obvious?" thoughts that jumped forward in my brain.

(Side note: this is why so many critique groups have a "don't speak while you're getting critiqued" rule. And I went into it knowing that I needed to keep my mouth shut. So I did.)

I don't like change, and focussing on short stories feels like a slow path to my intended goal. Or like a detour that I really didn't want to take. But I'm learning. I'm making progress. And overall, this will only be good for me.

And let's face it: short stories are so much fun!

Giles meanders through life sometimes. He's making odd choices with his blog, but you should still check it out for updates on his personal writing path and Charity of the Month recommendations.

Otherwise, tune in Tuesdays for his back-and-forth with the Princess and the Halfling, and check in on this blog on Wednesdays to see what he's thinking about this whole Beyond The Trope thing.

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