To all you fans of the late great Douglas Adams, and all the rest of you who just want your share of the Pangalactic Gargleblasters to raise a glass to whoever that British guy was who wrote those books…
Happy Towel Day!
This is a particularly happy Towel Day for me. Yesterday, I counted down the minutes to 1:30 pm so I could participate in 5 Minute Fiction on Leah Petersen’s website. (BTW, this is the same website where I first saw that neat feed the fish widget!) It was a special day for Leah, too; it was 5 Minute Fiction‘s first birthday!
At exactly 1:30, I read the prompt. We had to use this as our first sentence:
Another year of that and she was sure she’d go mad.
My mind started working. I love the fast prompts, because you don’t have time to overthink it. You have to go with your gut.
My brain immediately went to bad relationships and bad jobs, but I rationalized that other writers would probably be headed that same way, and I was determined to be different. But with only 5 minutes to write, I had to start something. I think I came up with a nice little twist… if you appreciate twisted stories!
Short stories are fun. Although I find more fulfillment writing a full length novel with fully explored characters, the shorts are play. They are something to have fun with. I can make up a premise, and it can be as ridiculous as I like, since it only has to survive for a few paragraphs.
I grew up reading Ray Bradbury. His short stories always made me want more, even though the entire plot would be completely contained within the short work. For many of these stories, more would not necessarily be interesting… the interesting thing happened in the short story, people reacted, and it was over! I’ve always admired his ability to create such fantastic works in so few words.
Often on a short story, mine or others, I’ve seen the comment “That’s great! I can’t wait to read more!” But this is not always a compliment, even though it is certainly meant to be. When I wrote Number Eleven, I never intended to write any more. I never named my main character, or even hinted whether the MC was male or female! But I wrote a second bit, called Prime, and I plan to write a third. But there it will end.
Is a good short story one that makes the reader want more? Or is it one where the reader finishes and just says “Yeah!” or “Woah…” or some other exclamation?
When I write a short, I don’t want my reader to be desperately wondering what came before or what will happen next. I want the short stories to be self-contained, so the reader gets the whole, complete idea in as few words as possible. It’s good to be curious, but if the reader finishes the story wondering “But, what about….” then I’ve done something wrong.
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