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May 13, 2020

            I originally posted this story in 2018 under the title Short Story Ideas. What prompted this redux was that many of us are sitting at home in isolation during this current pandemic, with either a lot on our minds, like unemployment, or well…trying to come up with something to keep us occupied. To keep from going crazy, maybe all these crazy ideas might be popping up that need some kind of an outlet.

            As a writer, not all of them can end up novels. Why not save some of them for short stories? After all, tis the season of the short story contests, isn’t it? Well, maybe not. I’m not exactly a big fan of contests, but I AM a big fan of short stories. Therefor, when the muse strikes, I go for it. Using that same impetus, why can’t you save some of your muse for those little ideas?

            Maybe, just maybe one day, if you don’t submit these little snippets to a contest or anthology, you can expand one or two into a full-length novel.


            To go along with my last article (at the time I originally wrote this), Remembering Those Ideas (2018), how about when you’re brewing several short story ideas?

            Dorlon, one of my buds that used to attend our weekly writer’s group meetings (when we physically attended them) and I used to get there early most Mondays and often discussed writing and stories. He wrote a lot of short stories, a lot more than I do. We talked about inspiration and writing them all down, saving up the ideas, so on and so forth.

            Maybe he still doesn’t write near enough stories for what he wants, given his inspiration and the time he spends on it. I haven’t seen him in a long time now, so I don’t know, but maybe he’s caught up?

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


            Sometimes I can go months without a specific idea. I may be too busy with my current novel, astronomy project (which is now discontinued), 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, maybe 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. They can be a bit shorter, if the story warrants.

            With the quarantine, that hasn’t really changed much for me because I still work. I have a mission essential job. The difference is that we don’t go anywhere on the weekends, travel, etc. So I have more free time. Same for the weekdays. So far, it’s all been spent working on book three of the Meleena fantasy series and doing edits on the second Gold series story, Spanish Gold. I have not written a new short story yet.

            The funny thing is that I have not seen a lot of discussion on short stories on the Facebook forums. Not as much as I’d have expected given our current situation.


            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. Since I originally wrote this article in 2018, this same story is STILL brewing and is STILL not written yet, all of five years later.

            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 wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach it. Since it wasn’t fully formed, I wasn’t ready to commit. Still, I did have an A and a B and a few months ago…well, maybe a year now, I wrote almost 1000 words. I had the title right off. In fact, that was the first thing I came up with. Then A and B. I just don’t feel the rest of it yet. Other things have priority. Until I feel the rest between word 1001 and the end, it’s going to sit. I’m also going to pare it down some because I have a feeling it’s going to go over my standard 4K mark.

            This story as in the first one I haven’t started yet do NOT fit my normal pattern.

            Hey, nothing is black and white in this world.


            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.

            As of this writing, they still languish on my computer. I ran across one a while back looking for something else. I was pleasantly surprised!


            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.

            During this time of isolation, whether mandatory or self-imposed, you’re bound to have time to contemplate your navel. Will you have time for inspiration? Will it (hopefully) be stories other than pandemic-related? I have a feeling the market will soon to be flooded with that! Are you so overwhelmed with worry about employment, sickness, isolation, everything that you cannot get inspired? I sincerely hope things are not that bad for you. I hope you can use some of this time to veer off into the world of your imagination and gift us all with some wonderful stories.

            Happy writing!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    June 10, 2020 1:45 am

    Dreams or born out of reality whatever something that happened family member friend encounter something that happened that stirs your imagination and the need for you to express.

    • June 13, 2020 1:09 am

      True. Sometimes that can be useful if you can remember them. Thanks so much John!

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