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SHORT STORY IDEAS

June 6, 2018

To go along with my last article, Remembering Those Ideas, how about when you’re brewing several short story ideas?

Dorlon, one of my buds at my weekly writer’s group meetings and I get there early most Mondays and often discuss writing and stories. He writes a lot of short stories, more than I do. We talk about inspiration and writing them all down, saving up the ideas, so on and so forth.

He puts more effort into the shorts than I do, while my effort is more toward other writing. All in all, we end up with what we end up with. Maybe he doesn’t get down near enough stories for what he wants, given his inspiration and the time he gets to put into it.

As for me, I generally don’t think about it in such terms. My process is a bit slower.

MY PROCESS

Sometimes I can go months without a specific idea. I may be too busy with my current novel, astronomy project (which is continuous), editing something for a friend, a proof read for my editor, or one of the other various projects I take on. Then, the muse will hit out of the blue.

What to do?

I quite often, stop everything else, then write the draft on the spot.

Other times, I form the idea, ponder it for a few days, a week or two, then, I write the draft in one session.

A short story, to me is 4K words or thereabouts. If I ramble a bit, it may creep into 5K, in need of trimming. Now you have the basic parameters. I’ll say that they can be a bit shorter, if the story warrants.

EXCEPTIONS

There are occasions when I get a nugget of inspiration and I’m not ready to write. I don’t have the muse. I have an idea, but no motivation, or no set plan. The idea isn’t fully formed, the desire isn’t ready to bloom. The story will sit in the back of my mind and linger until I’m ready.

I have one such story that’s been coalescing since April 2015. It’s personal and will not see the light of day until I’m ready. The problem is forgetting details and not getting some of them right. On the other hand, I have to do the story justice. This is a case where I’ve taken some notes but some is memory as well.

There’s another story where I’ve been playing around with the idea for a while, but that one’s been dodging in an out of my mind for some time. I’m not sure how I want to approach it. Since it’s not fully formed, I’m not ready to commit.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE ALREADY DONE AND NOT COMPLETED?

I have a few shorts that are done and either rejected submissions to my writer’s group anthology or read to my writer’s group, critiqued but not entirely revised.

Each of them could be tweaked, fixed, re-written, resubmitted, whatever.

Do I even want to?

Do I agree with the critiques? Do I want to change them or do I think the critics missed the point?

These are things to ponder if I ever want to move those stories along as well.

There are even a few drafts I’ve blurted out in a nugget of inspiration when the muse hit. Then I set them aside only to languish, forgotten for the moment. Not many, granted, but one or two.

One day, I’ll pull these nuggets out and see what I can do with them.

WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS?

I’ve written so many short stories, had enough published, that I don’t live and breathe every word and dangle my life’s breath on their publication.

How do you handle that?

Do you write for the pure pleasure, like I do, or is it something else?

What’s your process? Is it your entire thing or a side aspect of your novel writing, poetry, or whatever else you do?

What I’ve described may or may not be similar to what you do or have done. I hope it gives you some insight and helps you see from another perspective.

Happy writing!

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