Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Art of the Short Story

Sometimes, writers get stuck. I'm writing my sequel to Mariposa, called Orpheus & the Butterfly. It's actually going pretty well, and is on target to be released this summer. It's the guy's stories, and I think readers who enjoyed Mariposa are going to like it. I'm not really stuck on it, but the writing is slower, and I was in the mood to do something else. Which I just spent three days doing, and just finished up....

But this week, I saw a discussion of cyborgs that made me think. I've actually always wanted to write a cyborg story, and as I wrote this one, I also worked a moment from another source into the story that I've wanted to tell for a long time. It's a very sweet piece of the story I just finished, in fact. I really like what happened there.

I used to write short stories all the time, back when I was first in college. I was taking a creative writing course, for one, and they were our assignments. But I wandered into poetry-writing and also into academia-writing (which is soooooo not the same.) And I wrote my first novel over the course of the years it took to write that (which we will not talk about today....) And I stopped writing short stories.

But I've written a few lately. I suspect they'll all eventually end up in a collection that I'll release, but what's fun about the indie platform is that there are a number of ways to share them. There are amazing anthologies, like the Dragon Chronicles that I'm in (which is releasing tomorrow, by the way, go grab a copy and see "The Book of Sefkhet," my story in it).

A short story can be fun. This one, I came up with a little bit of an idea and thought about and then had this intense night filled with dreams where the first paragraph basically wrote itself. I kept waking a little to hear a line in my head, and I knew that I would be able to remember it. I usually can, in fact. I know some writers put a piece of paper next to their bed so they can write down ideas like that but for me, it's this lucid dreaming, waking dream, that I rarely forget. I've come up with some pretty neat story ideas that way. To be honest, I used to sometimes dream about academic papers that way, too-- don't get me started on the day of dreaming I had after reading the first half of Homer's Illiad.

A short story like the one I just finished is self-contained. Sure, I could maybe develop it into something longer, but it actually stands on its own merits, as well. It has an ending that I am pretty pleased with, that came out a little on the "poetic reversal" side. I kept something a secret through the whole story and then blam blam, there it was. In fact, the characters didn't even really know that secret til that moment. I hope it will make the readers howl/smile/laugh in delight.

Dorothy Parker famously reviewed a book "this is not a book to be set aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force." I love Dot. She has always been one of my favorite smart asses. I would hope you won't hurl your Kindle aside with disgust when you read my story, which will show up when it shows up.  I'll keep you posted as to how it will get itself published. Just long enough for you to have forgotten about it and then be surprised all over again.
© Avava | - Students Passing Notes In Classroom Photo

That, by the way, is what a little gem of a story like this one will do for a writer, too. It's a few days of obsession, followed by getting to know it a bit better and then it's perfect. Sort of like a brief but heated crush on someone. Writers discover it like a love affair, write it a little note which they fold and pass along:

I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no. 

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