Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Novel Approach to Short Story Writing

A short story is simply a novel in condensed form.

I’ve shared several times before that when I really started writing the only thing I wanted to do was publish novels. I wanted the big book on the shelf. In my mind there simply was nothing else to write other than non-fiction. And I was never going there.

Years have passed. I’ve never published that 300-page tome. But it hasn’t kept me from continuing to try. In the meantime, I’ve learned the novel isn’t the only way to go.

Wanting to be a novelist is pretty common among writers. There is a sense of mystery and adventure to it. We’re readers by nature and we want to be just like the writers we’ve grown up loving. We want to create a world people will never forget.

In our rush to publish it’s easy to forget that most of our heroes started out small, then worked their way up to something bigger. Others built their entire career around the short story. As a result this medium is often overlooked.

But that’s beginning to change in both the world of reading and writing.

The Weekend Short Story Challenge

In honor of such literary giants as Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Isaac Assimov, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, and so many, many more, I propose a challenge to any who read this post.

Let’s write (and complete) something small this weekend!

Like a novel, the story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. Start with a hook. End with a punch. And pack in the tension. It can be something completely original, or you can tell a well-known story from a different angle. Just make it unique.

For those not familiar with short stories, here are a few options to choose from:

Short: 1,000 – 3,000 words
Flash: 1,000 words or less.
Micro: Less than 300 words.
Nano: Less than 100 words.

As an experiment, I chose a Nano Story similar to Hemmingway’s six-word story “For Sale.”

Wanted: Six-month puppy seeks loving home. Loves Tag and Hide & Seek. Well trained. Missing her little playmate.

It’s my first attempt at Nano fiction, and I plan to try my hand at another this weekend. Whether they’re ever published or not, I’ve come to realize short story writing will help me focus on what’s really important when I go back to my novel.

Want to join me in the challenge? Let me know in the comment section below. Not your thing, but know someone else who might? Please share a link!

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