… are four words you won’t hear me utter very often because, whilst I’m not one of those people who will just jabber on and on for the sake of it, going round in circles and repeating themselves, I’m also not someone who will give a one-word answer if there’s an opportunity to give a little bit more detail.
This is why I write novels and not short stories.
The past month or so has therefore presented me with an interesting challenge. I’m part of a group of nine women called The Write Romantics who all met virtually through The Romantic Novelist’s Association (RNA) New Writer’s Scheme (NWS). We run a blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed together and, earlier this year, we decided to write an anthology. What started off as an interesting idea has really taken flight. We’ll all be contributing at least one short story and we’ve enlisted approximately 14 guest writers who are all published writers to contribute too. The anthology will raise money for The Teenage Cancer Trust and Cystic Fibrosis Trust, will be released in the Autumn and will feature uplifting short stories with a winter or Christmas theme.
Emphasis on the word SHORT.
The first thing that popped into my head was the title which I have to say is quite typical for me. This was quickly followed by an idea. But then the idea started to grow and suddenly a whole novel had formed. Before putting fingers to keyboard, I had to let the idea brew a bit and naturally decrease in size from the epic it wanted to become. For a few weeks now, the start of the story has been there and I’ve dabbled with the next couple of pages but I hit a bit of a block and abandoned it. Then torrential rain and thunderstorms hit North Yorkshire yesterday and, whilst the garden cried out with joy, we were miserable and trapped inside. The munchkin plonked herself down in front of a Scooby Doo film and I plonked myself down in front of my Mac and fought my way through my sticking point. It was only when I consciously stopped thinking of it as the potential start to a bigger novel that I might write at some point and focused on it purely for what it was – a short story for a charity anthology – that I finally progressed. I’m about a thousand words from finishing but I know where it’s going and how it’s going to end. Phew! Because my deadline is this weekend!
What have I learned from this experience? That I’m a novelist and a short story writer. Ok, so I knew that all along. But what else I’ve learned is that a short story may be of limited pages but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need planning. I wrote my first novel by knowing the ending and having no idea how to get there and it was a painful ten-year-long process. I learned from that and wrote my second one in about eight months by planning it out carefully. Then I went and approached my anthology story in the same way I’d approached book 1. Durr. I’ve learned. Again. The hard way!
I still have a big edit to do when I finish the story but I think it’s been good discipline for me to be focused. Hopefully the other Write Romantics and our readers will like it.
The Write Romantics need your help. Would you like to win a £20 Amazon voucher? Come up with the winning name for a winter/Christmas themed anthology to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust trust and Teenage Cancer Trust and it’s yours. Entries to firstname.lastname@example.org please by 31st August. Good luck!