Tuesday, June 19, 2012

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I have a grueling, terrifying task before me.

I have to get a job in this modern economy, to support me while I also write and publishing books.

Fortunately, to distract myself from this endless, upwards struggle to a dubious reward, I have my writing tasks! Currently, I am attempting to finish off the short stories that I mentioned a few months ago. And guess what!

Short stories are hard. They're very hard. Unlike a novel, where you have lots of leg-room, short stories are all about economics. It doesn't have questions like, "Is this character important?" No, instead, writing short stories has questions like, "Is this character important enough?"

To illustrate this point, lets think about dozens of background characters of our favorite novels. They're people who don't exactly push the plot forward, nor make any major changes for the main characters...but they usually exist for a reason. They throw the universe into greater relief, reveal details about plot and setting, and show how the main character's character reacts to certain kinds of stimuli.

A novel can take this. A novel has wiggle room. A novel has big pants!

A short story? Nope!

You might like X, Y or Z character, but if they don't advance the plot in a meaningful way, you should cut them to leave room for important things. Economy of character, words and sentence structure are all dominant.

It can be frustrating as heck...and, worse of all, it can be a discouraging wall in the way of writing flow. And that wall has finally been brought down, and like all writing, the method of this destruction makes absolutely no sense.

I wrote backwards. See, the most important scene of the short story, the scene that I wanted the whole story to build towards, is the ending. But the beginning...I couldn't find a good place to start it. Too early from the inciting incident (a militia fighter/bomber taking out the San Fransisco BART stations) and you have 2 pages of boring waiting in line. But too close to the inciting incident and you are left groundless and confused, without really a hook to go on.

So, I wrote the last scene first. And, struck by the kind of thought that makes sense at 1 in the morning when it's too gosh-darned hot outside and inside, I wrote the last scene backwards. Not literally backwards, but rather, the action going back from the ending to the beginning.



The important thing is that it got me to write.

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