Tag Archive | short story

what is a short story?

This last semester I had a horrid time coming up with any type of plot. In all honesty, I was worried that the plot bunnies that infected and attacked me so long finally decided to move away now that I was older, which meant that writing, at best, would be a challenge and at worse, impossible.

Between that and the fact that I didn’t have much time to write stories, I figured that with the Anges Hyde writing contest at school, I would just wait until Christmas break, write a story then, and I would be fine. I did just that. I wrote Darkness Swallows in about a week, edited it and put it aside to wait.

This is the story that I referenced earlier in that it grew in length instead of shrunk. Originally, I wasn’t concerned that much, because this one contest that is for short stories say to have a story shorter than 17,000 words. So I figured as long as I was less than 17,000 words I’d be fine. (I have, however, been hit on the writing contest in Minnesota for mine being too long.) I’m about 12,000, so I should be fine.

Then, I started thinking about it. It is about 25 pages in length. When I print it. it will be close to 50 pages (I’m submitting it in MLA format because I don’t know how else to submit it. They don’t say.) I fear that I would scare away anyone who looks at a fifty page “short story.”

I started to look up what defines a short story, to get an idea, and I found this on wikipedia:

Other definitions place the maximum word length at anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 words. As a point of reference for the science fiction genre writer, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America defines short story length in its Nebula Awards for science fiction submission guidelines as having a word count of less than 7,500.[1] In contemporary usage, the term short story most often refers to a work of fiction no longer than 20,000 words and no shorter than 1,000.

This poses some problems to me in a way.  if we even go with less than 9000 words, I am way over. I could possibly go with the contemporary usage, then I’m okay.

However. the problem is that I can’t change it now. The deadline is for it is January 31st. Even if I wrote something today, I would like to have it sit for a while and rest before I edit it. Moreover, I don’t have the time to write that kind of story.

So, instead of looking into this more, I think I’m just going to leave it. There is nothing I can do, beyond submitting one of my older (and poorer) stories. I think that this story is rather good. Hopefully, I’ll have two more years to enter into the contest and by then I’ll have a better clue at what to expect. I am also submitting into the essay contest per my teacher’s recommendation, so maybe I’ll win something. If not, like I said, I have two more years.

a new road map for writing

I’ve always written novels. Well, more or less always. The few times I deviated from the normal of writing novels came during the PCLS writing contest (which, I just discovered, didn’t host their writing contest this past year. I would be mortified if that happened while I could still compete.), which I just wrote some short stories and figured there wasn’t any big deal.

But usually, it’s novels. I like the idea of complicated stories and having a chance to let things actually develop. Short stories seemed constraining and restrictive.

Then I started writing my most recent book. I haven’t been too certain on this one, trying a lot of new things at one time. Such things like writing unrelated characters so they meet together, and going with more adult characters, operating in normal society. (Up until now, my most realistic worlds involved a culture quite different than ours.)

As it would happen, I got stuck. It’s not that I don’t know what to do; I have the outline all written out in enough detail I can write. It’s just that I don’t want to write it. All excitement has been drained from the story. Moreover, unlike how it happened often before, I don’t have anything really awesome to look forward to. Lastly, my world seems to be falling apart in its realism.

Right about this time I finished Darkness Swallows. (Which, as my sister informs me, has several typos). The idea that I just wrote a story in three weeks was rather nice. Moreover, I have so many little ideas in my head, ideas that I don’t know what to do with in a novel but I know what to do with in a shorter story.

I’ve been thinking about this now for a good week or two and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to write some short stories right now. First of all, with being in school for nursing full time (and overloaded the boot) I’m going to be busy.  I will not always be able to write. Secondly, I can spend quite a bit of time focusing on the elements of plot, character development and setting. I can then use these elements to later create my universe. Thirdly, I don’t have any good ideas for novels. None. By doing this, I might get some really good ideas for novels that I never would have thought of otherwise. Lastly, quicker feedback. To ask a friend to read a 120 page novel is huge. To ask  a friend to read a short story really quick, then they might be more likely to do that.

I’m not going to pretend to be a short story master when I’m done. My goal is merely to hone in my skill in story telling while doing it in bite size pieces. I’m rather excited about this actually because, like I said, I have a lot of ideas and I’ll have a chance to try a lot of things–like political books. I’m not great with politics, not enough to write a satire like the famous authors do, but I might know enough to get a few of my opinions across.

So, I suppose to give you a sneak peek at what I plan next. Keep in mind that I don’t know a whole lot about these characters yet, so we’ll probably be changing it some.

Natlie lives in Basham Heights, a small town nestled in the center of the Dragons’ Nest. Dragon attacks are a way of life for her and the fellow townfok. Over the past generations, they have developed methods of protect their town, farmland and ultimately cattle from attack.

All these changes when a dragon slayer comes down from the mountains and reports the vast decrease in the number of dragons. Plans are made to prevent the dragons from being hurt. Natlie can’t imagine though that this is a good idea. AFter all, the dragons have killed so many people. Moreover, Justin, another dragon slayer who Natlie housed with her family when they banished the dragon slayers from town, is convince these changes will bring only harm. Natlie finds herself unsure about what to do, torn between what has happened and what should happen.

Working title: Dragon Slayer. No clue on when I’ll let you see this though. My goal is to write one at best once a month and at worse one a quarter. There will be something else soon too, that is pretty much really awesome pure randomness.

how to edit

I once read something that basically said this is how you edit. You do step a, then step b, then step c, then step d, then step e.  That is the  most advisable way to edit. (I’d post it if I still had it.)

I thought that was a good idea and I would follow that. More or less did step A, which is where I read it through and changed all of the wrongness with characters. (I’m not the best about knowing how my characters behave at the beginning of the book.)

Then, I moved on and started to see about doing step b, except, whatever step b was I a) didn’t know fully how to know for certain I did it completely right and b) thought I already did it.

After that, I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone edits different. This was later proven when i heard that one author only edits her book once, because anything more than that would bore her.

I more or less then to agree.

That all being said, this is how I edit, which pretty much works for me. I’ve won some writing contests with this theory and so I’ve seen it work.

1) write the whole story (although I might go back and reread sections, editing them slightly then, I pretty much do no editing while writing. On a side note, it makes for a lot to clean up and with myself not liking editing, it isn’t the best way to do it, but I also learned never to not write the next section if I know how it goes.)

2) read it through once on the computer. This is to handle any gross mistakes and make it flow a little better. This is where, if I don’t understand what I wrote, I fix it up, because now I know for certain what I want to say.

3) Print out the whole thing (this can be huge) and do a paper edit. Edit the story on paper. I first baulked at this fact because it uses so much paper and is is so big and costs money, but it’s really advisable. You just don’t pick up the same mistakes that you do on the computer.

4) Insert the paper edits onto the computer. This can be done either per section basis or all at once. In larger works, I do it per chapter because I might not remember what I meant.

5) Read it through again, either on paper or on computer. This is to make sure that you don’t forget things like periods or have extra sentences that you forgot to delete. (I don’t do this step on smaller works though, for some reason.)

6) I think this is when I’m done and it’s finished. Now just find a title.

I’m on step 5 with Shad and step 3 (paper edit) with Kontyo right now. Personally, I like writing it much better than editing but I learned that I need to have both if  I want anything decent to come out of it. Someone (a famous author, but who escapes me) said something along the lines of write fast and edit later. Also, editing is the key to good writing.

So, although I dislike doing it, I’m off to go edit more.


Not really, but at least with draft one of Kontyo. I’m thinking I’m going to end up naming it something about the Void of Space or Space’s Maw or something like that. The idea being that a) that’s Kontyo’s first reaction to space from inside a shuttle, that it’s vast and open and never ending. Later on, he keeps someone from disappearing  into that said void of space.  B) Space swallowed up Kontyo in the end. (Which reminds me, I’m not done. I have one paragraph to write. Such as life. (My brother keeps using that phrase, so I am now doing as such.)

In some ways, I like the story. It is different in a way but I like the character. It has a lesson too, about responsibility and the need for it. I really like the ending, more or less, although I suppose we’ll see how it is when I read it through once. I only hope that it looks as good as I think it is now. We shall see. Someday, I will post it as well too.

Tomorrow, I think I will start to edit it.

wishes to write

I wanted to write one section of each story that I’m current writing over break. Rather failed at that today.

See, between mindskill and Kontyo, I have two stories. Kontyo is for a writing contest and due next month. Midskill is due whenever. Today, I wrote a lot of Kontyo, practically  the whole thing. It looks like it’s going to be about twenty pages, which I don’t think is too bad.

I’m aiming though for 17,000 words because I want to enter in the Writer’s of the Future writing contest if I do well with Kontyo at the DWU writing contest. I’m hopeful too, although I fear that I’m putting too much work into it. They didn’t give a page limit or anything and unlike a lot of the people who enter into the contest, I didn’t take the guy’s contest.

Alas, I will find out soon enough. I think though that I will be sorely disappointed if I do lose in  way, just because I’ve won so many from previous contests. At the same time, I want to see how good I actually am. I think I am, once I fix something up, but is that really true? I suppose we shall see.

Anyway, two more sections left to write of Kontyo and then I am done. Yay!