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My Personal Hell? Short Stories

wish-promoMy mind has been going so many directions the last few days that I feel like I’ve spun my own spiderweb. It’s writer hell. And not so great if you’re not into spiders, which I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned I’m not.

So first, Make A Wish! is on Amazon for free through January 31st. This is sort of the send-off on that novel because after that it’ll no longer be exclusive to Amazon. What does this mean? Well for those with Prime and a Kindle, it won’t be in the lender’s library anymore or Kindle Unlimited. It also won’t be eligible for free promotions, at least not on Amazon. On the flip side, Make A Wish! will join my other novels (and a short story) on Smashwords. So what? It also means it’ll show up in the library for Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Oyster, and some other sites.

That’s something to look forward to, if you’re anyone other than me. I get to reformat the book again. Yay, my favorite thing to do. Right up there with looking out for invisible spiders. Plus, whenever I deal with any of the previously mentioned sites, I start thinking about short stories. I’m midway through a novel right now, and have a pressing need to finish it, but my mind is wandering to short stories. This is bad. Make yourself comfortable and let me rant explain.

First, a short story is a complete tale of less than about 8,000 words. There is some debate on word count. For example, the next step up from a short story is a novella, which starts at about 20,000 words. That’s a big gap. What if you wrote something that’s 15,000 words? Well, it depends on where you’re submitting it for one thing. For another, short stories generally lack the character development of novels or novellas. Descriptive locations also tend to fall to the wayside. A short story is just that: a story that is short. People don’t pick them up with the expectation of being drawn into a complex new world or identify with a character. The reader is there for the story. It’s plot-driven. If your 15,000 word masterpiece fits that description: short story. If it has more meat on it: novella.

Second, when it comes to writing, short stories are a different sort of animal. Some writers are more flexible than others. This applies to a multitude of things such as when, where, and how they write, but also what they write. Some write in multiple genres, others are specific. Some write single titles and series (not talking about romance categories here), some manage every length from poems to epic novels. Personally, I can’t manage short stories.

I say that, but I have one published. Hmm. Let’s back up, shall we?

I used to write short stories. The idea of a novel was just too grand to contemplate. This was in junior high, so we’re not talking starry-eyed writer with hopes of being an author. I liked to write and short stories were what I produced.

In high school, writing became uncool, and in college I didn’t really have time. Then there was marriage and career and kids. When I got back to writing, I took a short story from eons ago and started to rework it, and it became a novel. Yay! I didn’t expect that, but jump for joy, a novel. I did it again. And again. This went on.

A writing class assigned short stories and … I had a problem. I’d gained the ability to write a novel, but lost the ability to write short stories. I can’t not develop my characters enough to make it fit the word count. I can’t have one simple story arc going and leave others alone. I can’t not have a backstory for the characters or complication.

While I did figure out how to trim a lot of things off a book, I could never manage to trim enough to make anything a short story. The closest I came was taking story ideas and writing a synopsis. Presto: 2,000 word short story. Sort of. Okay, not really.

But I wrote one. There’s proof.

No, I didn’t. Meet Olive was never intended to be a short story. It was originally the prologue for Be Careful What You Wish For. I had mixed messages from a critique group and beta readers about it: it wasn’t needed and prologues aren’t necessary, but people liked it. Fine. Take the chapter out of the book and set it adrift on its own. Problem solved.

No, problem not solved. I have Meet Olive available for free a lot of places. Apparently it’s too short. Fine. I have the same situation for Make A Wish! – an opening chapter (that I cut) introducing the genie and how she came to be where we find her. I’ve been waffling over making it a short story. Maybe I’ll package them together, then it’ll be longer. I’ll wait until I finish the next in The Genie In Your Pocket Collection before doing any more short stories. I know I’m cutting chapters out of the third book, so maybe they’ll end up there too. We’ll have to see.

And with this, I return to writing a yet unnamed novel that will be the fourth in The Thousand Words Series. Then I’ll finish the third genie book. Then I’ll have to face NaNoWriMo again and decide if I’m going to continue playing that little game. And then I can finish revising A’gust and then third in The Death Of Secrets Series, yet another untitled book – sad when you remember it’s actually finished. Okay, it needs a final revision and edit, but it’s complete.

Hmm… sort of feeling like my calendar is booked, but I want to do something new and different. This would be a good time to whip out a short story. If I could. Damn.

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