This past week I decided to start working on a new short story. I hadn’t written one in a long time, since I was occupied solely with my novel The Darkening. If I remember correctly, the last short story I wrote was right before I started working on the novel, so it was late May or first couple of days of June; a bit less than 6 months. I figured I’d be slightly out of shape for a short story, since there’s more space to explain things in a novel, but boy was I out of shape!
Not only did I start adding more and more details about my main character’s life, not only did I expand on his thoughts and feelings but I almost ended up writing a completely different story than the simple idea I had in mind. Even though I used the 7 point story system and the story made sense as I outlined it, I reached a critical point when I started writing a scene where things couldn’t get contained in 500 words the scene was supposed to have. I reached 5000 words in no time and I still wasn’t anywhere near resolving the story. If anything, I had opened two more arcs! 😛 If I didn’t stop, what started as a short story would have ended up as a novella and that was not what I wanted. So I had to delete more than half, rewrite about 60%, make a note to cut down on a dialogue that stretched too long, cut down on emotions and thoughts shared by the main character and figure out all sorts of ways to get my point through indirectly and in ways that conveyed more than one thing. Basically, I tried to make use of the rule “less is more.”
Around the same time, I read my first Alan Poe’s work, a short story called Tell-Tale Heart. In that story, Poe uses no more than 5-6 pages to convey a full story with an arc, full characterisation and so many more that I failed to notice, (since I’m a newbie). When I finished it I was in awe. Somehow I had to find a way to convey my story (which at the time was apparent it was going to end up being a novella, and not a short story) in a such a way that it would make sense.
My current draft (the new, rewritten one) sits at 3160 words, which is good. My only concern is now whether or not the story is coherent and if it flows smoothly without too many holes. Once that’s done, I’ll start editing and then see what else needs to be done.
This is the first time I used the 7 point story system and I had no experience with it. It makes sense and I’d like to work with it again in the future for short stories until I get to master it. Perhaps next week I’ll talk about the system a bit more. I’m also thinking of adding a new section with prompts using images. Would you like something like that?