One of my big goals is to get a short story published in an anthology.
I also have a bigger goal of making an anthology or collection myself, but I think starting with one story and working my way up is for the best. But here’s the thing. Short stories are really really hard to get right.
Short stories are meant to be short. And I am a long-winded writer. Not in that I’m too wordy, but my plot lines love to get complicated fast. I love a complex narrative. There’s no reason that short stories can’t be complex. I’m just…not as skilled at keeping the narrative short and complex. So, I’m going to practice.
Am I going to share those stories? Probably not. Why? Because I know a lot of them are going to be terrible. But that’s the point. I’m going to write the bad short stories to get to the really good ones.
I haven’t written a short story since a few bad attempts right after college. The hardest part for me is scaling a plot to fit. Which story is right for a short story versus a novel or novella? I can spin anything into a 50,000-word worthy tale (thanks Nanowrimo), so that’s a hard question for me. So I’ve started looking at it from the point of view of other short forms of storytelling.
Photographs, short films, vlogs — those types of media bring about short bursts of scenes in my mind. I consider them short stories. I’m taking some inspiration from them and trying to condense my short stories to a moment of the character’s very long life, just like in a novel. Honing the spotlight to shine on just one very poignant character-creating moment. The idea is to set the reader’s mind churning, their emotions working, and their own ideas expanding. It’s okay to leave the life unfinished in the making, but not to leave it at an unsatisfying conclusion (unless that is the point of the theme itself).
So I will practice. My least favorite thing to do ever since piano lessons when I was young. I will practice, and I will get better at the thing I love to do. Even if the process makes me cringe at how bad I have to be before I get to where I want to be. I really really hate knowing I’m bad at things while I’m doing them. I must remember that you only get better with time and practice (ugh).
What are you practicing? Are you trying a new type of writing? Can you keep your stories short? I’d love some tips!