I ended up only writing twenty stories instead of thirty, but I’m okay with that — it’s twenty stories more than I would have written otherwise.
- #15: “Blueprints” — (science fiction)
- #16: “Watchtower” — (thriller)
- #17: “Alastair’s Songbox” — (fantasy)
- #18: “Doors” — (fantasy)
- #19: “The Rose Garden” — (contemporary)
- #20: “The Goose and the Golden Egg” — (fable-ish)
Having written these stories, I feel like I’ve gotten a better grasp on how to put a story together, how to write a short story (as opposed to a novel), and how my fiction-writing process works. (If I spent an hour a morning writing, I could have written 50–60 stories instead of just twenty.)
As mentioned in my last NaShoStoMo post, I’m a bit behind. It’s day 20 and I’ve only written 14 stories. But I feel fairly confident that I can hit 30 stories by the end of the month, especially now that I’ve learned to write shorter stories (my last three have been 400 words each, instead of my usual 700–1200 words).
- #7: “If You Could Hie to Kolob” (LDS science fiction)
- #8: “Crumbs” (retelling of Matthew 15:21–28)
- #9: “Tyrk” (fantasy, about the circus)
- #10: “Babushka” (disturbing)
- #11: “The O-Bomb” (middle-grade, kind of)
- #12: “The Red Minivan” (fantasy of a sort)
- #13: “To Have and to Hold” (science fictionish)
- #14: “Look Up” (thrillerish)
And of course I have plenty of ideas for the remaining sixteen stories.
I ended up finishing that third story last night and writing another, and then I wrote another two tonight. This is awesome — I went from writing no fiction at all for months and months to writing around thirty pages so far in the first week of April.
I’m not going to post the stories online, because they’re embarrassing, but here’s what I’ve got so far:
- “Wallwalker” — about a high school kid who can walk through walls (fantasy/science fiction)
- “The Baby and the Box” — about a newborn who can see the creature on the ceiling (fantasy)
- “Gravedigger” — about a golem and a little girl (fantasy)
- “Back in a Bit” — about a husband who takes out the trash and doesn’t return for ten years (science fiction)
- “Clerk’s Office” — about an elders quorum presidency who finds a door that leads under the church (horror)
- “Fire to Fire” — about a boy who can start fires with his hands (fantasy)
I do plan to write a realistic story at some point, honest. But the other twenty-nine this month will almost certainly be fantasy or science fiction, because apparently that’s what I do. (And I’m very okay with that.)
A side effect of all this story writing that I didn’t foresee (I must be blind, because it’s kind of obvious in retrospect) is more confidence in my writing, enough that I’m now raring to go back and write Tanglewood, that young adult fantasy novel I started two years ago but lamely gave up on. (It changed a lot after that draft, by the way.) Some of my stories this month will come from that world, I think.
Almost one week into NaShoStoMo so far. I’ve written two and a half stories and I’m hoping to finish the third story tonight, so I’ve got to write three more to catch up. I have a feeling I’ll be playing a lot of catch-up this month.
I have to say, by the second day of the month I was this close to giving up. I figured that NaShoStoMo was an unnecessary extra stress in my life and besides, fiction isn’t even useful, and there were so many other more worthwhile ways to fill my time and blah blah blah yadda yadda. Luckily I realized that that was Resistance talking (see Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art). I managed to muscle through it, and I’m really glad I did. Story ideas are flying at me from all over the place. It feels so good to be writing fiction again.
But man, writing middles is hard. And endings are even harder for me. I can handle beginnings just fine, but as soon as I get to the middle, it’s like every bone in my story goes limp, and it’s kind of hard to end properly when you’re flopping about with your invertebrate middle.
And that’s why I’m doing NaShoStoMo: to learn how to write middles and endings. Thirty stories is going to be really good practice for that.
Also, keeping my stories short is proving to be difficult. Writing a story short enough that I can finish it in a day (preferably a single sitting) would seem to be easy, but as soon as I get going, it’s like I go into novel-writing mode and I’m spinning out the first chapter of what’s going to be a much longer story. So my other goal is to learn how to clamp down and tell each story with more economy.
And yes, all three stories are kind of pathetic, but you can’t expect much more from that from rough drafts. I do plan to revise some of these lumps into something nice and shiny someday.
Last night I came across NaShoStoMo (National Short Story Month) via my friend’s blog. Basically, you write thirty short stories in April, one a day, 200 words minimum.
I’m doing it.
I haven’t written much fiction in the last nine months, but I miss it, and this’ll be a great prod to get me going again. Most of the stories will be quite short and most will be horrifically bad (figure I may as well get that out there), and there’s a good chance that no one other than me will ever see any of them, but you can’t become a good writer if you don’t write. A lot. Time to get back into the habit of spinning stories.