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advice requests > Cant write a frikken' short story

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message 1: by Chloe (new)

Chloe Smith (literatepea) okay, i love to write, ive been writing for about seven months (though it seems much much much longer than that) and i cant write a frikken' short story! And i thought it would be easy!
Its not that i cant come up with ideas, its the exact opposite. I cant STOP coming up with ideas.
I'll get an idea - usually very small and basic.
And then i invent and invent and invent when really i should tell tell tell.
I was proud, because for the first time, i wrote a sci-fi SHORT story. seven pages. i was very proud. Only i cant do it again. it was basically one time thing. i need lots of advice from all you amazing short story writers! thank you so so so much!


message 2: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 26 comments I know how you feel. I started with an idea that I thought would extend to maybe 200 pages, and it went to over 400. Every time I try to write a short story it ends up a long story. I had 6 ideas for a short story contest and could only use one because it was the only one I could tell in 3500 words. Fortunately, a friend has an anthology coming up about vampires, and some of my story ideas can be done with a bit more room to tell them in.
That's the hard part about short stories, the lines have to be more boldly drawn, the characters more powerful, because you've got only a little space to put the story. Making the same words do double- or triple-duty is a skill not every long-form writer can learn or do well.


message 3: by I.J. (new)

I.J. Parnham | 4 comments Not the advice you're looking for but... write novels! The same sort of thing happened to me when I first started writing. I wanted to write novels but never could for heaps of reasons. So I tried writing short stories. Did some and then one day I exploded with ideas and pages flowed and before I knew where I was a had enough for a novel.

So I say if the muse takes you and you're in the zone go with it and see where it leads you.


message 4: by Chloe (new)

Chloe Smith (literatepea) I actually have tried writing novels. I started one called 'snap' and quickly dropped out on it around page 60. Now im working on something, page 37. Then just today i started writing in a different style. More sarcastic. Let me tell you, writing sarcastically is so fun. The other story im working on is very serious.

Marc, i think you and i have something in common. one way to describe my writing is the snowball effect. it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger until i think my short term memory is going to ruin the plot before i get it on paper. lol.

Any advice on writing short stories?? Honestly, i would be happy chopping every short story attempt into a billion blood pieces, but sadly i kinda need to know how. Because you see, the seven page story i wrote was for a writing festival with people from all over the state. And sadly, i love the writing festival, and i plan to go every year, but i cant do that if i cant write a short story.


message 5: by Anony-miss (new)

Anony-miss a-non-y-miss | 10 comments My memory is pretty short, for a 14-year-old. I get all these ideas and they seem to build up in me, yet sadly, they seem to fall out.

I like to write 'm down, and check them later. I'm not a professional writer. I just feel writing down those ideas that "pop" into your head keeps yourself on track.


message 6: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 26 comments When I get an idea I can't use right away I start a document on it and write down all the details I can. Sometimes I use the ideas in other stories and sometimes I can make a whole story out of it. Try the PARSEC writing contest. They have themes that I find often give me very good ideas. This year's theme is Dark Glass. Unfortunately the contest ends on 4/15 for this year.


message 7: by Chloe (new)

Chloe Smith (literatepea) Sometimes i write just a little piece of a story i come up with, maybe a page or so, and then come back to it when im done with whatever im working on. Is PARSEC an online thing? Maybe you could give me the link?


message 9: by Chloe (last edited Apr 13, 2009 03:42PM) (new)

Chloe Smith (literatepea) ooh that sounds fun! But only 3500 words...yikes. I'll try next year. there's no way i can complete something in 2 days.



message 10: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 26 comments I do it often, even if I don't actually enter the story. At the very least you have a story for some other use. I had a number of ideas from Dark Glass that I wasn't able to write, but an author friend of mine is putting together an anthology of vampire stories, and two of my ideas were vampire stories. So now, after I already submitted one story, I'm working on the others to see if I can get one done for his vampire anthology as well. And a story I wrote for last year's contest is out of contract now, so I should be able to get it over to my regular publisher and get it released by itself in e-book form. I will admit that 3500 words is a bit cramped, though, no room for subtlety or long explanations.


message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul Penelope,

Just write your story. Doesn't matter if it ends up at 35,000 words (or whatever.)

Then read it again. What is the theme? In other words, what basic human emotion or conditionis being most explored in the story?

Then think, what's the concept? What actually happens in the story? In two sentences, max.

Then go through the story, cutting out anything that doesn't further the theme or the concept. Cut out sub-plots, lengthy descriptions, diversions, off shoots. They can always go in another short story or stories. Be minimal. As suggested above, use the right word to do double or triple duty. Sometimes, the right word can substitute for an entire paragraph.
Check that you've got your: inciting incident / complication; your first critical moment (Plot Point 1); your first main action scene / major moment of conflict; your protagonist low point (dark moment, crisis, call it what you will); your climax and the resolution (denouement).

If all are present and correct, not necessarily in that order, and everything supports the theme and the concept, then you have your complete short story. If it's still too long, then it will have to be a novellette or a novella.


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