More is more

More is more

 

As I said in 2016 goal- to write badly, one of my major aims this year is to write with an emphasis on quantity rather than quality. Inspired by Emma Darwin, I’m writing for my own satisfaction, 45 minutes each weekday, stopping to change things as little as possible. The results, just over a week into the new year, are a revelation to me. I’m quite painlessly producing between 700 and 900 words. This means, I have drafted one short story and started another, in just over a week. My experience with Camp Nanowrimo a few years ago, wasn’t a one-off, then. More is more.

Because although I wouldn’t want anybody to read what I’ve written yet, I’m pleased with the potential in those stories. For once, there’s enough material to structure into something people might want to read.

Last time I submitted a short story, I received feedback along the lines of,”This reads too much like a Jane Austen novel.” I nursed my wound for half an hour and then cheered up. It wasn’t the nastiest criticism someone could have levelled at a piece about the domestic side of Abolition. I took it as a sign I should stick to longer work.

Of course, previously, I’d spent years with the same cast of characters. I thought I was drafting without worrying about editing, but I created my structure first. Here I was, trying to put people I didn’t know half as well into something manufactured. Even I, its author, found it a bit lifeless. This week, as I’ve written fast, characters and story have naturally developed. Dialogue has formed. And I now have something that feels more like plasticine, and less like sticklebricks to mold. I suspect this, completely unrevolutionary technique, will prove a much easier and more efficient way  of working.

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Learning on the job

Learning on the job

I’ve reached the end of the honeymoon stage with my short story. I need to remind myself why I’m writing it. It would be (very) nice to have something published, but it’s chiefly an exercise. The only way to learn how to write a story of this length, is on the job.

So, I’m having fun, with serious purpose, throwing ideas at it to see what is and what is not possible. I’ve joked about trying out second person point-of view. This time I’ve done it for real (and discovered why it’s so unpopular.)

By the end of last week I had words, characters with desires and weaknesses, but no story. I didn’t know that was the problem. I just knew it wasn’t working and I didn’t know what to do with it next. It felt amorphous, and even with the weird POV, wasn’t much fun to write.

Half the work for me with fiction, is working out why something isn’t right yet. Once I’ve identified the problem, I can formulate an approach. In this case, something needs to change my character’s heart at the right pace. I don’t know what that something is yet, but I’ve made progress.