Thursday, June 3, 2010

Short Stories

(How has it been over a week since I blogged last? WHOA. Sorry about that, folks).

So I guess you could say that I've ventured into new territory as a writer.

Not that this is unusual, you understand. Since I really started trying to write a little over a year-and-a-half ago, I have written (or am still working on) projects in:

Commercial Fiction
Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
Cozy Mystery

And now I am adding "horror" to that list. I just finished a short horror story, and while it originally came to me as the impetus for a novel, I immediately stopped that firmly in its tracks, and for good reason-- I'm currently still writing two other novels. No need to add a third. And this one was PUSHY. Kept writing itself in my head while I was trying to go to sleep. So I decided to turn it into a short story-- something I could finish quickly and get the story out of my head so it wasn't running circles around my other projects.

And so my evil child short story was born, drafted, and done at about 4,700 words. A little long for a short story, but the anthology press I have my eye on takes up to 7,500.

Anyway, moving on-- my point for today (and possibly this whole week, as you scan your eyes over the barren desert of my blog) is that I don't think in terms of limits for myself as a writer. If I get an idea, I write it. And you know what? It's been incredibly liberating to do so. If you'd asked me a year ago if I could write a story about a black guy that turns white, the answer was no. In June or July when I got the idea, the answer was still no. But when it pestered me until I wrote it out, it was easier than I thought. And it helped me grow so much as a writer. Now, I wouldn't give that story back for anything, even though I originally thought "wouldn't that be great for someone else to write one day."

What writing V taught me though, is that I CAN write things that I think I can't. And the same thing goes for horror. I never would have thought to touch a story like this last year. Now, it's done-- and it creeped me out to write it, but I kinda like it.

In some ways, being an un-agented, un-published author is an advantage. I don't have a name built up as a YA writer, or a high fantasy writer, and therefore an agent, editor, and rabid fans awaiting my next release in that category, and only that category. I'm still just a writer, and I can write whatever I want, whenever I want.

I'm going to embrace my freedom for now and write what takes my fancy.

Have you ever written something that you thought you weren't capable of, or outside your comfort range? Do you stick to one genre?


  1. For novels I stick to just historical fiction. But I've done flash pieces and collaborative fiction for westerns and scifi too. And plenty of different historical eras. But I love ancient Egypt the most!

  2. Stephanie-- I'm glad you write ancient Egypt, frankly-- we need more writers like you in the world! :) Well, at least YOU. Don't want to flood the market, and have AE turn into the vampire... *shudder*.

    I may still be on a sugar rush.

  3. That should have been *next* vampire.

  4. Super cool, LT. You're absolutely right about the advantage we unpublished novelists have.

    My new WIP starts a female teenager. From Thailand. I'm not at all convinced of my abilities to pull it off, but if I don't try how will I know?

  5. Adam-- left a comment on that post. How far have you gotten on that one?

    You're totally right, too. If we don't try, we won't ever know what we're capable of.

    And I'm having typo-itis today, too. Maybe it's something in my comment section...

  6. You're leagues ahead of me with your short story length-- the short story I started last week is now at almost 12K! Pretty much exploding in length to worthlessness. But that's okay. I'll writ it and if the day comes that it can be put to use somehow, hooray! If not, at least I'm writing, and writing is practice and growth! I'm glad you don't limit yourself :)

  7. Amalia-- that's well on the way to becoming the start or skeleton of a novel! I was totally afraid that's what would happen with this one... I was chanting to myself the whole time I wrote it, "I will not let this become a novel."

    You're right, though, it's writing, period, and writing is good! And I bet someday you could turn it into a novel.

  8. LT: I'm about 1/3 of the way through the draft. I'm not a fast drafter. But I think the only way I won't finish is if I get an agent soon and have to revise my Air Pirates novel :-)

  9. I see no reason why you should have to limit yourself after you start publishing either. You could be the author whose fans eagerly await to be surprised and amazed by :)

  10. LT: It already had a novel :P It's supposed to be a spin off one-shot for a secondary character. Sadly, it has spiraled out of my control!

  11. Yeah, I have to agree. I'm writing women's fiction novels, but when it comes to short stories; the sky is the limit. I use that venue for experimentation. I guess I'm not as vested in the shorts as I am the novels. I put in as much effort, spit and polish as I do the longer works, but I feel more like I'm writing to please myself - or my unpredictable muse.

    Glad you got to finish the story. Sounds interesting.


  12. I have and still try new genres to write--not that I had much success--but you're right, it feels good to branch out every once in a while.

  13. This post makes me incredibly happy!!!!! I think it's so wonderful that you're writing short stories AND you're writing in different genres. You're doing what I'm doing - really exploring what works for you and finding what you love the best. I think traditional publishing can really tie a writer down, and I'd rather not jump on that boat until I've decided where I really want to be, if that makes sense. Good luck with your story! I've got several out now that I've been waiting forever to hear back on. No luck yet. Oh well. :)

  14. Adam-- sweet :) It sounds super-interesting, for some reason I love Thailand even though I admittedly know very little about it. Of course I would be ecstatic if you found an agent for Air Pirates, but here's hoping you'd still come back some day and finish it.

    Taryn-- If they'll let me, I'll happily do that, haha.

    Amalia-- well there you go! It can be a spin-off in the series. Wait, that doesn't help, does it?

    Donna-- that's a great point. I never thought about using short stories as a means for experimentation. You mean everything doesn't have to be novel length? Haha. Hm...

    Jennifer-- it's amazing what we are all capable of. It really is.

    Michelle-- It totally makes sense. I'm starting to wonder myself if I should wait, except I really do believe in the stories I've already written, as spread across boundaries as they are! Good luck with YOUR submissions... here's hoping you hear back soon :)

  15. LT - a horror story... that's my genre of writing choice for shorts (that, or dabbling w/ things more literary). And 4,700's not too long, particularly for a 7,500 lim. For THE BLACKNESS WITHIN (coming out in August, I believe -- woohoo), the limit was 6,000... I barely squeaked in... after edits and additions, it's closer to 7,100.

    Hopefully being conscientious of word count didn't stifle anything. Either way, good luck!