Thursday 28 February 2013

Short Story Writer: In the Flow: A Revelation

I've been a working hard on my writings all week. I've been working on five stories. Yep, I like to write on more than one thing at once.

Horror Flash = finished
Fantasy Flash = finished
Science Fiction story for an anthology
Fantasy story for an anthology

I was quite happy pootling away when my research for the science fiction led to another idea, and I got distracted and started writing another science fiction story.

And, oh. I got into the flow. That lovely feeling when the words were just flowing onto the page.

Afterwards, once the story was finished, I got to thinking. Why was it that story that was so enjoyable to write? It wasn't the science. It wasn't the length. It wasn't the premise. I had similar elements in the other stories, yet they hadn't been so much fun.

And here's my revelation. it was the fact that the my main character was an unreliable narrator. And I love reading short stories about unreliable narrators. And come to think of it, I love writing them, too.

And maybe that explains why in the horror genre, I've written so many Cthulhu stories, because I love reading them.

So that's my revelation. Write what you love. And you'll love what you write. (mileage may vary).

And in fact I remember reading that advice a few years ago. But it never crystallised for me at the time.

Now I'm going to be looking for story elements in my reading. I know that I've got a fondness for what I call character reveal stories, when the character doesn't solve problems but the emotional pay-off at the end of the story is the unexpected/yet somehow inevitable character reveal. Could I write one of those? I know I've got a fondness for sublime language. Could I do more with my prose?I like sarcasm and sly humour. I like happy endings. And what other elements make me enjoy  a story? What else can I be inspired by?

Oh, happy day.

What about you guys. Have you thought about this. Do you write what you love to read? Have you ever had a writers' revelation that is so obvious?

Monday 18 February 2013

Skitter Over to Toasted Cake to Hear my Story

Tina Connolly has done a great reading of my flash story, 'The Unmoveable Sky' over at Toasted Cake.Toasted Cake is an award winning podcast of speculative fiction. It was so fascinating to hear my story spoken by Tina. It was like encountering my own words for the first time.

The time of Kali has passed. 

This is the little story that could. First published in Poe Little Thing's 'In Space No One Can Hear You Scream' anthology and reprinted in Helbell's After Ever After zine. (for those who prefer to read it rather than hear it).

Saturday 9 February 2013

Hourly Versus Word Count Targets

I am such a fan of targets. For a long time I used this style, focusing on weekly targets for completed stories and poems, and submission:

                                    completed words completed poems           stories subbed    poems subbed
Week 1                           5K                        1                                  5                       2
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Monthly totals

A few months ago I switched to hourly targets, counting the number of hours I spend writing each day and not bothering with word count. I thought that by abandoning this soulless production would improve quality. And I'd rather write one wonderful story than four mediocre ones.

The first month went deceptively well. But here I am, four months down the line. My production has halved. I have written no new poems for months and I can see no improvement in quality. So I'm switching back.

How frustrating.

A writing friend has just tweeted me asking what went wrong. I'm not quite sure. I guess that an hourly target allowed me to indulge my preference of starting new stories without completing the old ones. I guess I didn't write any poems because there's always so many new stories I want to write.

I was hoping for an improvement story quality, though. I guess I'm not the best judge, but the stories look pretty much the same to me.

I was going to post moaning about how I can never seem to improve my ways of working. But no! It's good that I know what works for me.

Do you use targets? What works for you? Have you ever tried to improve your production and failed?