Short stories are NOT my forte. Let’s get that out of the way right up front.
My first attempts to write short stories were unsuccessful on many, many levels. Basically it would start off with an idea. I’d say to myself, ‘you know, this idea isn’t exactly worthy of an entire book. I should make this into a short story!’ So I’d start in on the ‘short story,’ only to realize, after about fifteen or twenty pages (maybe ten or twelve) that I hadn’t even finished introducing the universe everything took place in, much less gotten to the meat of the story.
So I’d amend my plans. No, not a short story, this would have to be a book after all. Then, about five or ten pages later, I’d hit a brick wall and decide that I could come back to this story later and see if it was really worth getting into.
So I would fail to write the story, and fail to keep it short.
Eventually, I’d come back to it and, in most cases, fail to remember what the hell the story had actually been about anyway!
These days I’m a little bit better about it. I mean, sure, I only finish about one in ten of the short stories I write, but let’s be honest, that is a massive improvement from zero percent,
But in order to do that, I rarely have a fully fleshed out story as the end result.
Basically, when I’m working on a short piece, I essentially attempt to establish a mood instead of really telling a tale. Getting a full story arc into just a few thousand words is rather difficult for me, so instead I just find the emotional high of a story and attempt to capture that as powerfully as I can.
Another trick I’ll try is practicing a technique with which I am unfamiliar, or one which is difficult to impossible to maintain over the course of an entire book. I’ve written a few where the entire story is dialogue written from one character’s perspective, that’s a good way to keep things short. And it’s fun, too.
But I feel that I am missing out on something. I’d like to be able to generate these more traditional pieces. Unfortunately it requires a discipline and skill set that I largely lack. Still, you should always push yourself. I’m a big believer in that.
I’m going to make a concerted effort, over the next couple of days, to write a couple of short stories associated with my corpse-eater saga universe.
I’m inclined to think that having an established universe for the story to play out in will be helpful to me. One of the traps I’ve fallen into in the past has been spending so long trying to tell all of these details that are unnecessary to the plot, but make the world as a whole work. I’m hoping that the knowledge that I’ll be able to share these details, or have already shared them, in some other work will serve to help me focus my attention to the story itself.