Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The difficulties of knowing how to shut up

I have managed to write a short story... I think.  The piece comes in within the 2,500-3,000 word limit (at 2,999) and I have tried to make it so that it feels self-contained.  There is, I believe, a beginning, a middle and an end.  But does that a short story make?  Is there some special magic ingredient that I have somehow missed?  Because for all that it feels complete to me, I'm worried that it feels like the beginning of a story to the reader.

This seems to be a problem with other attempts at short stories in the past - that what I'd hoped sounded like the end actually seems to be the beginning of a much longer piece.  Goodness knows I prefer writing something with a 100k word limit but that just isn't an option this time.

It seems I just don't know how to shut up.  I wonder whether I pick the wrong subjects?  This story I've written began life as a description of an exotic marketplace and ended up about a magical war and oppressive rulers and a falling city.  This highlights two observations (problems?) I have noticed with my writing:

1) I pick very large themes for my work no matter how much I try to keep it small


2) I end up writing fantasy whether I intend to or not.

In Publishing Project lessons this semester the idea of an 'unalterable core as a writer' has come up a couple of times - in what seems to be a developing theme at the moment, I didn't have a clue what to say - but although it seems unlikely that these two points count under that weighty heading, they do at least show something consistent in my writing.  What that says about me, I have no idea.

But that's not really my point ("She has a point??") - the fact is that these two things make short stories rather difficult, or at least the first point does.  The small or the mundane don't interest me when I read so they sure as heck aren't going to interest me enough to write about them.  I honestly don't know how to write about them.  No matter how much I try to make a story out of something tiny it always ends up exploding into some high-flung extravagant adventure romp thing.  Most inconvenient when you've only got 3,000 words.

I guess I'll have to send it off to the editors and see what they say and try to write another in the meantime.  Fingers crossed.

And, if she should happen to read this drivel I be pouring onto the interwebs, a big thank you to Lady Laura for reading and so kindly commenting on my story.  And for driving today.  (But if you can't see, I really don't mind taking a turn).

Off to go and find reality not boring... hmmm, wish me luck...

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