Tuesday, June 16, 2020

New Short Story Project

I've been working on a new short story. I am hoping to enter it into a contest this September, so I won't get to share any of it here. But it is inspired by the novel I'm working on, and somewhat of a prequel. I thought I would share some of the challenges with this new format.

One challenge is that I am trying a new point of view. Until I watched Brian Sanderson's lectures, I didn't even know it had a name. Epistolary is a story told through a series of letters (or other forms of documentation/correspondences). I have read a number of these in anthologies over the past few years, and I really enjoy them. It creates a sense of mystery and makes reading more interactive. The reader must piece together multiple perspectives, and read between the lines.

In my short story, there are two sources for the correspondences. These are from two main characters. The third main character is telling another point of view in standard first person. So far I think it is coming together. I have a little over 4000 words and the contest requires 4500 - 6000 total. I feel like I'm around two-thirds of the way through my plot, so this lines up nicely.

Another challenge is working with voice. I was a little concerned at first, because one of the characters is a male scientist, which I obviously am not. I will definitely get some readers to help me make sure the text is realistic in terms of character voice. Other than this, the project has been a fun one. I was lucky to receive some advice from a writing coach about a good method for planning, and I tried it out on this story. I feel more confident now that I have a little more structure to my planning process (sort of). I plan to hire a coach full-time after this contest is complete so that I can focus better on finishing my novel.

I want to elaborate on the "sort of" from the previous paragraph. Through writing, I have discovered much about my own mind. Although a test in high school told me that I was categorized as Abstract-Random, I see it now more than ever. My mind is like a crystal, casting light in every direction. But if I can angle it just right, if I can rotate it and capture my thoughts in the proper way, I can create a beautiful rainbow. The trick is getting all that scattered light to focus at the right points. I almost felt like having the plan made the writing harder, but if I look at it like a way to focus, then I can look forward to seeing all the colors line up nicely.

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