Brace yourself. This is the revelation of all time. Are you sitting down? You should really sit down for this one. Okay, you at the bus stop, since there isn’t a bench, just ask the person beside you if they might catch you in case you faint.
Right, so the thing about writing short stories for competitions is this: You don’t have many words to play with. The short story word counts are kinda, well, small.
I know right? It floored me, too.
Okay, so perhaps this was beyond apparent to most of you, but I’ve not written a short story since I was in high school, and I think it was about how my cat scared me with his food bowl in the middle of the night. A simply riveting yarn. I do remember my teacher hating it. Anyway, this past weekend I thought I would try my hand at a short story. I’ve had a couple of ideas for over a year now, and because of a contest deadline that loomed in a loomity way, I thought I’d crunch a tale out.
The restriction was set at under 2500 words. TWENTY-FIVE HUNDRED WORDS?! My book was about 118, 000 words! I like words, and using many of them to tell a story. How the heck could I build characters and issue my certain brand of whacky in so little a budget of words???
I started writing on Saturday night and submitted yesterday. The second thing I learned about crafting short stories for competitions is that they don’t take as long to write. You know, because they’re short and all. Shockingly, I think I might have pulled it off, too. I completed the task in just over 2000 words, and made myself and my trio of reviewers laugh. Achievement unlocked!
It wasn’t easy at first, but I think I might have developed a taste for it. I might challenge myself write a few more 2K-word short stories, just to see what I can come up with within that restraint. Someone once told me that limitations are beautiful, regarding the creative process. Well, it does keep you sharp, I must admit.
I can’t reveal this particular short story yet, but when I can, I will. In the meantime, stay tuned as I try to bang out some more short but silly wordy things.
If you have something to share about your experience writing short stories, please feel free to leave it in the comments! You can include links to your tales, too. Dazzle me with your word-smithyness! 🙂
Cait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ‘Cosm, a space opera about aliens with issues (Renaissance Press). She’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network blog.