Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The long and short of it...

I've been trying my hand at writing short stories lately. Not something that comes naturally to me, but something I'm hoping will get me some writing credits to add to my query letters.

Yes, I am being that single-minded.

I'm entering them into competitions and submitting them for anthologies, all so that I can have something to write under the dreaded heading: 'writing credentials'. (I do have a couple of things, but it's always better to have a few. I think. I'm making that assumption, anyway.)

I read short stories now and then, but my love lies with wonderful characters in fiction, and I just don't think you can get any real character development in a short story. Wonderful snapshots, yes. Depth of character, no.

But I'm trying to zone in on those wonderful snapshots, and capture them in roughly 3,000 words. What I'm finding during this exercise is that my snapshots are tending towards dark twistiness that doesn't really come out in my full-length manuscripts. I'm also finding that it's really toning up those editing muscles. Having to stick to such a piddly number of words means that every single one counts - more so than with a novel. (I can already hear voices raised in protest.) I'm seeking out those pesky adverbs and commonalities which slip through in longer writing, being brutal with word choices and tangents.

This is really making a difference when I turn back to my current full-length WIP, and I already know I'm not going to have to double-back and massacre the thing with my editing machete like I did with the last one. So even though short stories aren't really my groove, taking that step away from my writing comfort zone has been really helpful.