Wednesday 19 February 2014

(vol 1) CHAPTER 02: “Start with the little things.”

Welcome back again. If you’ve returned for a third week then I’m already doing better than I thought I would.

This week it’s about what I’ve decided will be my first step on the road to publication. While I have four NaNoWriMo first drafts sitting in folders ready to be attacked by red pen, I still find the size of that particular task a little daunting.

The obvious choice is to go smaller, dealing in bite sized chunks of stories that don’t need as much work doing to them as a fully-fledged novel would. I read on Anne R Allen’s blog that short stories are once again back in fashion for up and coming writers. This is mostly down to the ease of self-publishing; authors can write a short and release it for a small, enticing price, slowly building a fan base while they continue to work on their novel length master piece.

One of the authors I follow on Goodreads is Victoria Pearson. While she is just releasing her novel now, she has already made two collections of short stories available which can only have helped gather her a nice following.

So I felt this was the less frightening route to take and it would allow me to work on one story at a time. It also meant that, with a mixed collection, it might appeal to more people with various tastes.

I went through my short stories in all their forms and put them into a list. They fall into one of four categories.

NEAR FINISHED – Despite my struggle to stay with any stories long enough to complete them, I do have a couple that could be classed as finished. Unfortunately part of me feels the need to place the word ‘near’ before finished until they are in print and out in the world. When I read over them I spot little things that need changing.

FIRST DRAFT – Usually just scribbled down in a notebook and not typed up on my laptop yet. It’s usually unreadable by normal humans. These first drafts are skeletons and in need of heavy editing to get closer to ‘Near Finished’.

STARTED – These are the stories with a couple of pages started before I got distracted by another story (squirrel!).

IDEA – These exist only on a list that simply contains the title, a brief plot outline and maybe a main characters name. This is a side effect of not being able to turn ideas off. Perhaps if I become more organised and pro-active with the writing I can stay ahead of my ideas.

With a list in front of me I looked for two things that a story needed for it to jump out and be considered; I needed meat on the bones, so to speak, and to still have enthusiasm for the story. Some of the ideas I’d had were from years ago and didn’t work in the style I had now found for myself. Also some just weren’t relevant anymore or were just too faded in my memory to get further than just the idea.

I also didn’t want duplicated story types in the collection so there could only be one ghost story included or one zombie story (spoiler: some of the stuff I write may include ghosts and/or zombies).

As my list became a short list I was concerned about how many I should include. I wanted quality, not quantity. Too few and readers like yourself might feel short changed. Too many and I would be spread thin.

In the end I settled on seven. With this figure in mind I went back to my list and started picking off the weaker members of the pack until I was left with the chosen stories. Now I have my seven and have already begun writing and re-writing. I’ve got a title for the collection. I’ve got a plan. When I’m not writing I’m thinking about writing.

As I make my way through the stories I’ll post excerpts on the blog; not enough to ruin the endings but enough to whet your appetite. I hope you come along for the ride.

See you in seven.

1 comment:

  1. In general, I'm not a fan of short stories as I feel they have a tendency to stray into pretentiousness, however that being said you're darn right when it comes to them being a good and less daunting stepping stone before hurling yourself into a novel. Good luck!