How I Write a Short Story

If you look at my Published Works page, you’ll notice a lot of short stories.  Short stories I got paid for.  I guess you could say I have a bit of experience in this field.  You might say I know something about this all.  Muahahaha, I’ve fooled them all.

How do you I sell a short story?  I did a guest blog post about that once, long ago.  Feel free to read it.

How do I write a short story? Never covered that.

Until now.

Long ago, I used to write something and then find a fit for it.  These days, I find an anthology (using this site) and use it as a story prompt to write.  It isn’t that I don’t have story ideas.  The ideas just tend to be novel length.  So, I approach short stories from this prompt angle, with the publisher’s word counts (min and max) in mind.

It isn’t just word counts I worry about.  I worry about and figure out how to meet the publisher’s other requirements.  They want steampunk.  What kind of steampunk (pulp, social commentary, weird science, in space, or whatever) am I going to write?  They want a fairy tale retold with a twist.  Which fairy tale am I going for?  It must have a clock in it.  How will I incorporate a clock?  I decide these now.

That takes care of the bones, but everything pretty much looks the same at the bony level.  (Unless you’re the person BONES is based off of or in that field, but to most people, bones be bones.)  That’s why now is when I decide what I’m going to do to make this story “me.”  Is it a different form of story telling?  Tell the story from the dead body’s point of view!  Is it an element?  Snails are both female and male, muahahahaha!  It is just something that I feel is something I can bring to this story that no one else can others might not think of.

Now, I have the heart and bones and it is getting closer to life.  But, it is still lacking meat.  I start forming some meat by figuring out who the main character is.  The main character’s important details.  Who else is going to be in this?  Figure out what I need to know about them.  Why is the plot happening?  Short stories need to start not at the beginning, but rather when the chips hit the fan.  (Do you know the character up a tree analogy?) From there, the meat forming gains speed/thickness and I write out a bullet point outline.

After that, I frost skin it.  I write.

But, Gloria…  When do you research?  You do research, don’t you?

Good question, fake person I forced to speak in italics.  Yes, I do research.  Basically, from any point after picking the project is when research.  I do it randomly, as I need it.  Be it learning more about an unknown subject key to the anthology or realizing I need the name of an African river mid-draft.

Any more questions?

Categories: Experience | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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