Last week, the lovely Fictionista Stacy Bennett-Hoyt made me aware of a Fantasy Writing Contest which looks fantastic. Great prizes, great flexibility.
Just one problem.
It involves writing a fantasy and it involves writing a short story. Now, it's not long since I blogged about the challenge of writing short. It's still a nut I haven't cracked. I'm carefully mapping out my Little Red Riding Hood short but I know what is happening. It's turning into a novel.
Happily, Faith Boughan has written an article to tell me where I might be going wrong. I highly recommend reading the article but in summary, I'm:
- Not remembering that a short story audience is different from a mega novel audience. They want pace and immediacy, not epic grandeur.
- Trying to cram in too much plot (GUILTY).
- Trying to cram in too many characters (GUILTY).
- Trying to cram in too much description (GUILTY)
- Trying to cram in too much world building (GUILTY).
Now, the first of these isn't too big a deal for me because I don't try to be epic but the other four, yes. Guilty as charged damn it.
If I'm writing flash fiction I know can fit in one character, at most two. I know I can only manage one twist. And the tight word count strips away all but the bare essentials where description is concerned. I've seen writers build entire fantasy universes in just one hundred words.
Those writers appreciate one important fact:
Readers possess imaginations. They can fill in the gaps.
A challenge lies before me. Can I learn those lessons and apply them diligently when I have more words to play with?
Can I build a word - and tight, pacy story - with the luxury of 8,000 words to play with?
I don't know. But here are three things that will help me:
- Reading more short stories. Simple eh? It's true. I'm good at flash fiction because I've read and written a lot of flash fiction. I've a sense of what works and what doesn't.
- Taking a sub plot. I have novels. Can I steal a minor character and a sub plot and turn it into a short?
- Giving myself limits. I strongly believe that nothing stimulates creativity like limits. The harder the prompt, the tighter the word count, the more inventive my stories are. If the scope is wide, I will make it narrow.
What helps you? I need all the help I can get!