Slow Going

I’ve gotten slow.

Normally it shouldn’t take more than two weeks for a novelette. Here I am at a solid week and I still haven’t finished a short story. It’s not because I don’t know how the story goes, I do. It’s not because I’m not working on it, I am. Not really sure about the because, actually, but I’ve got my suspicions.

To begin at the beginning, I’m a member of a flash fiction writer’s group. I’ve been in writer’s groups before. Back in Mississippi we had a very successful writer’s group that produced several published stories and even one Nebula nomination (not me, alas). I hesitated about joining the local group simply because it was flash fiction, which I’ve never been a fan of, but I was curious about the local scene, so I finally put my misgivings aside and very glad I did. It’s a talented bunch and flash has its own challenges. When I think of flash, I think of anything under about 1500 words. Nuh-uh. Here we have 500. Max. Some groups go even shorter.

Start with a challenge word. We write whatever we want, but it has to include the challenge word for the week. Three of those week’s words resulted in new Yamada stories. In 500 words. Still wrapping my head around that one myself. Naturally enough, for each of those I had to leave a lot out and imply a lot more…which meant I naturally wanted to expand them. The first one sold to BCS last spring. Working on the second one now and have plans for the third, but here’s the thing–I am writing very slowly. Yes, now we’re back to the subject of this digression. Which there wouldn’t be room for in flash, but there you go.

I think flash has me in the habit of drafting more carefully. Fine in a rewrite, but it tends to hamper things on a first draft. First draft should be more like careening down a hillside on a bike with no brakes. Even so, I usually end up with a 6-7 hundred word draft that has to be cut to 500. So when I do the same thing on a story that would normally run in the 3000+ word range, that doesn’t work as well. It slows you down.

Now that I’m aware of the problem, I can make a conscious effort to fix it. But of course first I had to become conscious that there was a problem. Which I should have realized when it took me six months to write a novella when I’ve finished full novels in three. Or an entire week to only get two thousand words of what I think will be a 3500 word story, once I’ve put in all the stuff I had to leave out the first time.

Wisdom is uncertain. Learning is optional, but better than not.

4 thoughts on “Slow Going

  1. So you’re saying here that one must first have a diamond in the rough before starting to polish it. Yeah, makes sense to me. 🙂
    I’m curious as to whether professional writers ever use something like Grammarly, if only for giggles. I remember once feeding in the Preamble to the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address a few years ago to similar software and laughing, a lot, at what came out.
    All the best

    • I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Grammarly in the Indie community, but I’m not too keen myself. I’ve never known any so-called “writing” software to understand what I was doing enough to help, and as you noted with such famous documents, style doesn’t appear to be a consideration.

  2. Hello Richard,

    I loved your Empty Places, read by Levar Burton. It is a great way to find fantastic writers and new reading material.

    Will we hear more adventures involving those two characters? Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Your above book list doesn’t seem to be in chronological order. Is there an intro book to a series of yours, that one should begin with?

    Thank you.

    A

    • Thanks for the kind words. Having a story of mine read by Levar Burton was a great treat for me as well.

      It’s not likely Tymon the Black and Jayn will be teaming up again. If you want to read more Tymon he appears in the first book of the Laws of Power series, THE LONG LOOK and reappears in the third, POWER’S SHADOW. My other series is the Yamada Monogatari books, starting with a story collection: DEMON HUNTER. Either one would probably make a decent introduction.

      Tymon also has his own collection, THE COLLECTED TYMON THE BLACK, but it’s only in ebook.

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