Ok, last June –for no particular reason- I decided I’d try to write 30 short stories in 30 days. I set different rules for myself after last year’s 30 in 30 challenge.
1. Each story had to have an ending. Too many of my stories from last April were partial stories.
2. No porn. Each story had to be salable, after editing.
3. No novel excerpts. Novel chapters could not be counted for the total, I wanted this month to focus on short stories.
So how did I end up? Well, the first 20 or 21 days, I was batting 1.000. I did 21 short stories in 21 days and then…didn’t get any writing done for five days straight. That pretty much killed any chance of completing the challenge. I managed to cram in some work at the end of the month but I ended up with 24 completed stories plus two partials. Not bad but not an all out victory. It was a bit of a roller coaster. A few story chains didn’t get forged, some stories I really wanted to work on didn’t get done, several stories ended too abruptly, and a couple didn’t get finished at all. More on the latter in a moment.
What did I learn?
Well, I knew I could crank out the wordcount when needed, though I didn’t really hit my max word rate with these shorter pieces, apart for one 5k story I finished in about 3 hours. Too much feeling my way with shorter pieces. What was a never-ending joy though was the fact that I didn’t run out of story ideas. Every time I sat down and started writing, something came out. I can’t tell you how awesome that feels.
I also very clearly discovered my ‘natural’ length. My short stories, to satisfy me, need to be around 5-6 thousand words. Every story I wrote than was shorter than that, which was a lot of them since each story needed an ending, didn’t feel right. I have a lot of editing ahead of me with these stories and for most of them, that means adding more story. A couple of stories wanted to sprawl longer, in particular stories set in my Shallow Sea world (same world as Angel Odyssey). Part of that is my ongoing love affair with worldbuilding.
A couple of stories just didn’t gel. One was too much influenced by some Donald Westlake I was reading. My version of the plot diverged radically from his but I found too many of his words in my mouth. So I stopped it. If I decide to go back to that story, I’ll have to cut and redo the opening. A second I simply ran out of time on, couldn’t get to even a bad stopping place.
Finally, writing fast and writing short is HARD. Writing short, fast and excellent is even harder.
So I didn’t make my goal but I got some good practice in and some story ideas down on paper. I don’t think I’ll try this again. I’d rather write one good short story a week instead of seven half-finished stories. I already know I can write fast and that I have more ideas than I know what to do with.
On another note, got two more rejections in the mail on the same day. I guess my hide is thick, they disappointed but didn’t hurt. I’ve got a heck of a lot more where they came from.