June 28, 2013

How To Write a Short Story, Apparently

1. Despair that you'll ever be able to write a short story. This phase can last anywhere from a few hours to half a lifetime.

2. Think up a first line you really like the sound of.

3. Let the first line rattle around in your brain looking for a story to attach itself to.

4. After some weeks of this, decide to take a scientific approach. Figure out the last line that logically pairs with your first line.

5. Try to solve the puzzle of how to get from the first line to the last line. Swim a lot of laps during this stage, because ideas grow in water.

6. Gradually, over the course of a month or two, develop the idea of a path between the lines that's shaped kind of like a story, but without any driving motivation.

7. Keep searching for the missing elements of your story. They're there in the water somewhere if you just keep swimming long enough.

8. Come up with an actual plot that makes sense, more or less. Hooray, the hard part is over! All you have to do now is write it.

9. Realize you still have to write it. Despair anew. Procrastinate for a while.

10. Start writing the first draft. Discover that you're out of practice in putting any old words down because you've spent the past years in revision, obsessing over selecting the perfect words.

11. Take pleasure in the fact that short stories are a whole lot shorter than novels. Look at that, you're already halfway done.

12. Complete the first draft. Congratulations, you wrote a short story! Now you can revise forever.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ At Page-Turner, Thomas Beller considers the relationship between writers and Twitter: "I had always thought of Twitter as being a good place to work out ideas: a place to mull things over in public, and a way of documenting a thought to make it more likely that I would remember it. But is it like a conversation or is it 'talking it out?' Is it a note to oneself that everyone can see, or is it, like iPhone photos, an attempt to offload the responsibilities of memory onto an apparatus that feels like an extension of ourselves because it is always in our hands? I sometimes wonder if I might ever be accused of stealing my own idea."


Henri Picciotto said...

Is this post the short story it is about? :)

Lisa Eckstein said...

Ha! But no, this is a true (well, okay, lightly fictionalized) account of writing a different short story.

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