Monday, February 20, 2012

Writing the Short Story

I've always been a long-story writer. My first two novels were around 90K each, and the succeeding ones have all ended around 70K or longer (for those who don't understand what that means, a 90K novel is about 300 pages double spaced in Microsoft Word.) Then last fall I wrote my first novella--and loved the experience. This month I've done a couple of short stories, which is a totally different animal than a novel, or even a novella.

Yeah, they're short, right? So the first thought is that should make them easy, but you have to look at them differently when planning out the plot. Usually there's just one story question or character arc, not the plethora that wrap and weave together to create a full-bodied story. That doesn't mean that short stories take any less skill to write (just a different set of skills), or that they can't be emotionally satisfying.


I completed two stories and posted them as ebooks after considering and tossing lots of different ideas this month. The first one He Doesn't Belong, is not-so-loosely based on my grandfather when he entered an assisted living center--though there's plenty of my own fabrication to make the story work.  I need to rework the blurb, but here's what I've got listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords:

When the old man moves into the assisted living center, he thinks his kids are just shunting him aside to get rid of him, but an old companion--his harmonica--might be the key to building a new life. 

 
My other project was  Alone No Longer, which is a short story about my character Denise from The Ball's in Her Court (which my publisher just made available on Kindle last week) about how she ended up in foster care and her journey to finding a family of her own. The blurb on Amazon, Barnes &Noble and Smashwords follows:

A broken arm was the least of Denise’s worries as she hid in her room as her mother partied with friends in the next room, but when police arrive to break up the party she finds herself in foster care and a succession of homes. With everyone, including her mom making big promises, Denise wonders if she’ll ever find a place where she belongs.

I've decided I like this short story thing and have been playing with several other ideas for stories--both short and novella length. When I can make time between my other many (way too many) fun projects!

What new things have you worked on lately? Have you tried your hand in a new genre or played with poetry instead of prose?

3 comments:

Jessica said...

Thanks for the links. Can't wait to download them!

Taffy said...

You've been busy, Heather! I'm writing obituaries for my characters this week :)

Heather Justesen said...

I've journaled for my characters before (a bonus as you get a feel for how they think and talk) but I've never done obituaries....I'll have to remember that!