Writing Short Stories

Monday, 13 April 2015

Over the last couple of months I have been writing and writing and writing. I wrote anything; snippets of scenes, opening chapters of novels (which never got anywhere), and short stories.

The beauty of short stories is that they are short. In some cases, they are very short. This creates a perfect opportunity to experiment and attempt new things which might not work. So lately, I've been trying to sort out my tenses. I wrote a short story not long ago where my narrator talked about the past and then skipped some years forward, but was still in the past, and then eventually I moved onto the present but then I moved swiftly back to the past...

That story wasn't very clear but I really enjoyed writing it and I learned a lot in the process. And guess what, it was just under 2000 words. I only spent a couple of days on it and not months or years (I have still to tackle a bigger piece). So if you're busy and want to develop your writing craft, try writing short stories.

It is also important to read short stories, as many as possible. To name a few, I recommend Anton Chekhov, Hemingway, and Susan Hill. When reading their work I sometimes observe how they use language to tell their story and then I try out some of those techniques in my short stories. So for example, I noticed that Anton Chekhov is quite good at pacing and moving the story along. In The Chemist's Wife he doesn't dwell on excess information - like what exactly does the chemist's wife do in the storage room? - partly because a short story doesn't have room for it and partly because the story would lose momentum. I then went onto writing a short story and I focused on moving my story along at the right times, instead of blabbing on about pointless things which don't contribute to the story.  

My short stories are short, no more than 2000 words and I know I'm going to make lots more mistakes but that's okay. Writing is a process and messing up is like a guarantee. But it's a good guarantee because we learn through our mistakes.

What do you think? Do you like writing short stories or would you like to have a go?

The Page of Opportunity

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The idea of a blank page can be a little daunting. There’s nothing there. No words. No life. No anything.

That’s one way of putting it. Lately, I’ve been trying to think of a blank page as The Page of Opportunity where: 
  1. There are no rules.
  2. The page is a space to grow and craft my own world.
  3. I can untie my imagination, let it loose and not care about the consequences.
  4. That space of nothingness is for me to do whatever I want.
Sometimes it really is better to just write. Ignore the blank page. Make a character up, throw them into a situation and see what they do. You might not get anywhere with that character or story but you have to write in order to know.  Well, at least that’s the case for me.

Basically, the empty page isn’t a threat. It’s a starting point. A place to bloom.

The same goes for this blog – hello!