Thursday, June 20, 2013

Overwriting

Over at The Confabulator Cafe I've been writing a short story a month. You can check out the links on the Free Stories page here if you like.

Anyway, we're supposed to write flash fictions of around a thousand words. A year ago I didn't have any problems writing some short, short stuff. Over the last six or seven months I've been writing stories that don't strictly fit into any definition of flash fiction. I think the stories are better for having a little more room to breathe, and I love having a deadline to create something, too. But I'm NOT following the guidelines.

Perhaps the tales are slightly overwritten but maybe not. It's hard to tell sometimes. They're flash fiction in the sense that I sit down and hammer them out pretty much in one sitting, put them away for a couple of days and then give it a once over before it posts. Sometimes I've been ahead by a couple of days or even a week or more, others I've dropped at the site as much as six hours after my deadline. You can probably tell the difference but I'll never admit which ones are which.

Still, the struggle is to tell a decent/good story in a thousand words. It can be done, lots of people do it. I've even done it.

But why are my stories taking so much longer to tell? Is it the ideas themselves that have gotten bigger? Can I not think smaller any more? Is this a byproduct of working on novels?

I don't know.

I'm not even certain that this is a problem. I mean it's a problem for the Cafe because I'm not following the guides but it may not be a problem for me. Stories that run 2000 to 3000 words are pretty comfortable for me right now. Anything shorter feels - unfinished. As a matter of fact the last three stories are connected to each other and even connected to other stories within the Cafe.

In fact these stories are inspiring other stories that will need to look for homes somewhere. Maybe eventually in the Cafe, hopefully in a paying market.

Still, I'm sort of bothered by the fact that once I start writing I'm missing the mark. I know how to work within guidelines. Limits are there for a reason.

A little self-control is in order then.

If you're a writer, how do you do it? How do you trim your ideas to fit?