Thursday, June 2, 2011

Short Story Tips?

Tip of the Day: The largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest is this weekend! Come out for the 2011 Printer's Row Lit Fest in Chicago. I'm doing a panel Saturday (6/4/) @12:30PM on the Mash Stage with a lot of really cool writers: Ellen Booraem, Ilene Cooper, Brenda Ferber, and C. Alexander London.

Writing short stories is HARD! Maybe it's not hard for everyone but when your used to writing books it's hard to get out what you want to say in few pages. I've written eight books now and they all tend to fall somewhere around 200 pages. I never go too far under that or too far over that. But now that I have a limited word count to work with I'm kinda freaking. I'm working on my short story for the Debs Anthology and the word count is 3000 to 6000 words. I'm rocking along writing my story and I hit 1000 words last night and freaked out. Uhoh. This story is not 1/3 of the way through. Not even 1/6. Darn. It kinda paralyzed me. I was afraid to keep going because I think I'm not going to be able to say everything in the allotted pages. I'm going to try of course, and hope that it doesn't get so out of control that I have to hack a bunch of it out at the end.

Are any of our readers short story writers? Have any tips for me?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action


Kate Fall said...

Honestly, just keep going. After you have it written, see what scenes you can condense into one or summarize. Then cut extra words and phrases. Then let your crit partners chop it down further. You can do it!

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I usually have the opposite problem, having written short stories for years!

Gregory Frost says that a novel is about the most important *time* in a person's life, and a short story is about the most important *event.* So I'd say, focus on a single event. Have the story revolve around that event. No subplots, minimal cast, minimal backstory. (Although 3000-6000 is longish for a short story, so you can sneak in a subplot-ette or two if the story ends up being too short!)

Kristina Springer said...

Thanks for the tips! And wow, 3k-6k is long? This is tough! :-)