Friday, December 08, 2006
Short Story vs. The Novel
I'm in the midst of editing a short story I wrote while in graduate school. I was never at a loss for great story ideas during those years, mainly because I read a ton of history books - World War 2, Revolutionary War, European Colonialism...etc., etc. But this particular story demanded to be told - now. So one day, I put aside my homework and sat down to write.
That story has sat on my harddrive for four years. And it's time for it to see the light.
But now I've got to downshift to the short story format. I've had a few short stories published and I like writing them, but it's different than the novel. You've got to leave out all that backstory and there's not much room for character development. Every single word counts.
I might read a few articles on editing short stories to refresh me for the task. But since this story is close to my heart, it's still hard for me to back away from it and use my "head" instead of my "heart" when I'm editing it. Wonder why that is? After all, it's been four years.
I'd also like to come up with a few other short stories, but I don't have any ideas knocking on my brain yet. However, I do have a surefire way to find them. I used to belong to an online writing forum and every Saturday night, we would write "flash fiction." If you've never heard of flash fiction, it's a very short story - usually less than 2,000 words. (Find Wikipedia's definition here).
All of us would log in at a certain time - say 7 p.m. - when the moderator would post the topic for the short story. Sometimes, just grabbing a random word out of the dictionary would do the trick. All of us would write a complete short story in an hour on that particular topic, then post them. We'd critique each other's work, then have a chat afterwards.
I found it to be a remarkably creative time and I came up with some pretty neat short stories whenever I did participate. I wouldn't mind hosting something like this once a month or once every two weeks for anyone that might be interested. Any takers?
And yes, it's Friday. Let the heavens rejoice! The weekend is nearly here!
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