Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Breaks and Short Stories

So, it's been a while since I blogged. It's been a strange couple of weeks, sometimes stressful, sometimes lazy... I guess I can make as many excuses as I want to, but I guess if I'm honest I have to say that I was writing quite a pivotal scene and I wasn't sure how to get across what I wanted to get across in the scene.

I was agonizing about the dialogue, too - two characters, both in the process of really discovering themselves and finding the roles they'll be playing in book 2. Added to that, I've now got all my characters where I need them so that I can start charging toward the finale - that's damn stressful, too. Exciting as hell, for sure, but stressful.

Anyway, I would think of the scene every day, watching as it went off in different paths and nothing really struck me as the right path, know what I mean? Anyway, time passed and two weeks ago we were watching movies.

We watched Repo Men, (awesome, incredible movie) and I had an idea for a short story. I knew it would be a short story because the title leapt into my brain first and then the characters, the scenes, etc. Anyway, I had the idea and then wrote it. That was Birthday.

The following day we watched Astro Boy and Splice, and guess which movie gave me the idea? ;-) Astro Boy. The story was The Orphan.

A couple of days later I was lying in the bath. I had this idea-avalanche, a succession of ideas that linked together and formed a story - plot, characters, even some dialogue, and at the end of that avalanche I was insanely pumped to write. But because I was so pumped I took it slow... Wrote around 500 words on the first evening and then finished the story the next day. I struggled a bit with a name for it, had the idea to read some of Percy Bysshe Shelley's poetry and chose a name. Breathless Sleep.

And this is the one, I think, that got me thinking differently about the novel. Breathless Sleep is unlike any other short story I've written - it's not Horror, it's not SF, it's not Dystopian. It's something else, and the first time I've tried to write this particular melding of genres. It kept me and my girlfriend up, talking about it. :-)

Anyway, I think that because it was so different, and because it got me thinking of and exploring different ideas, when I sat down to work on the WIP again I was able to finish the scene and the chapter. I guess I've learned something:

When I'm struggling with a scene, I'm going to try and write some short stories. Keeping the brain ticking over, keeping the thoughts running, that's the important thing. Not writing is not an option. After all, if I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my life, I'm gonna have to learn how to do it well, and on command.

I'm a bit tired tonight, but I'm gonna get started on Chapter 20 anyway. I'm going to back to one of my favourite chapters and I have to start setting her up for major anguish and an impossible choice, which will, of course, end up affecting every other character in one way or another. :-)

Wish me productivity so you don't have to wait as long for another post! :-)

Wordcount so far: 75917

And no, 'aint taking part in NaNoWriMo - this novel is not joining the Unfinished pile...


  1. Sounds reasonable enough. You go and finish what you start, be it with short stories in the process. I wish you luck.

  2. I use short stories as a break from the norm. Sometime, when you're working on a larger project, you need to give yourself a break. Short stories are a great way of writing something new without the commitment needed for a novel. I have a whole collection of short stories, ranging from 500 words to 9,000. And yes, they also help you to practice the craft and gives you a chance to explore genres.

    I've just passed the 70,000 word limit on my current piece, and am aiming for just over 80,000.

    Good luck with yours and your productivity...