What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
Jason Parker
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What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby Jason Parker » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:50 am

My best approach seems to be . . .

Take a day to work out story details on a single sheet of paper, a beginning, middle, and end.

Next day write the story.

Let it cool for a few hours, then revise and submit it.

Repeat.
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Randy Hulshizer
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:28 am

Here's my approach (although I cannot say that it is effective, since, to date, I have no pro publications):

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rharp
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby rharp » Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:10 pm

Randy Hulshizer wrote:Here's my approach (although I cannot say that it is effective, since, to date, I have no pro publications):

Image


Ha ha, love this, Randy. wotf001

And Jason, for me (I'm sure every writer is different), I generally have an idea, procrastinate a lot and drink a lot of coffee, then write the first draft. Then prononouce it as awful and wonder what was I thinking? Then I try to take time away (but I may have procrastinated too much and my deadline is approaching so may not have as much as I'd like), revise, share with my critique partners, revise, repeat, repeat, repeat. My thoughts on critique partners--find people who are better writers than we are and people who are publishing. They are amazing help. This forum is full of awesome writers, many of which have read/critiqued my stuff (thank you!!). And reciprocate of course. Oh, and drink more coffee. Then submit and obsessively check email. Oh, and make friends with the baristas. wotf007
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Jason Parker
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby Jason Parker » Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:30 am

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Ishmael
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby Ishmael » Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:35 am

1. Have idea
2. write story
(3. Submit to Beta readers)
(4. Revise story)
5. Enter WotF
6. Wait
7. Receive HM (usually, of late)
8. Read story / Realise how badly written story was
9. Re-write story
10. Make sale (sometimes)!
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Jason Parker
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby Jason Parker » Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:56 pm

Ishmael wrote:1. Have idea
2. write story
(3. Submit to Beta readers)
(4. Revise story)
5. Enter WotF
6. Wait
7. Receive HM (usually, of late)
8. Read story / Realise how badly written story was
9. Re-write story
10. Make sale (sometimes)!


Yeah, number eight happens almost every time I look at any story I've written. It's funny how you think that a story is magic at the time of writing it, then months later it is trash.
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby amoskalik » Wed Aug 10, 2016 3:15 pm

Jason Parker wrote:
Ishmael wrote:1. Have idea
2. write story
(3. Submit to Beta readers)
(4. Revise story)
5. Enter WotF
6. Wait
7. Receive HM (usually, of late)
8. Read story / Realise how badly written story was
9. Re-write story
10. Make sale (sometimes)!


Yeah, number eight happens almost every time I look at any story I've written. It's funny how you think that a story is magic at the time of writing it, then months later it is trash.


I usually experience number 8 as well, but then a year later it's not half bad again wotf017
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby Jason Parker » Wed Aug 10, 2016 6:09 pm

amoskalik wrote:
Jason Parker wrote:
Ishmael wrote:1. Have idea
2. write story
(3. Submit to Beta readers)
(4. Revise story)
5. Enter WotF
6. Wait
7. Receive HM (usually, of late)
8. Read story / Realise how badly written story was
9. Re-write story
10. Make sale (sometimes)!


Yeah, number eight happens almost every time I look at any story I've written. It's funny how you think that a story is magic at the time of writing it, then months later it is trash.


I usually experience number 8 as well, but then a year later it's not half bad again wotf017


That's how I am when I look back at ads I wrote in 2007. I'm wondering what happened to that writer. He was good, in a different type of way, maybe in a raw kind of way.
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Ishmael
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby Ishmael » Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:30 am

I find that many of my earlier stories were based on good basic ideas. The execution was not so much bad as simply uncommercial - wordy, full of digressions - like stream of consciousness writing where sometimes the sentences even get in the wrong order. I didn't mind all this because I understood what I was trying to say. The problem was that readers weren't going to stay with me long enough to decide whether they agreed.

I went back and edited my 210,000 word novel down to 162,000 words. What I took out wasn't needed and was slowing up the plot. I hope it's better now. I've also worked my way through several stories with multiple rejections and turned them into sales.

Can't be too bad a scheme? wotf017
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kentagions
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby kentagions » Tue Aug 16, 2016 9:20 am

SF:
Idea generation: Two relatively broad ideas are thrust together in my SF. One must be science or tech oriented. In my estimation this is where "unique" counts most, so I try to choose unlikely combinations. Besides unlikely combos, I want the combination of these two ideas to automatically generate conflict.

Character generation: The main character who has to deal with the central ideas must be emotionally invested in them. It must be a person who can't walk away from any difficulty arising from the ideas. The main character must also be a person who is handicapped in some way: physically, intellectually, emotionally and/or psychologically. Handicaps connect the character to the reader, so strong emotional handicaps like fear and desire must be present.

Supporting characters are a funnel for the main character, pressing the main character forward through ever narrowing possibilities in the story. Primary, secondary and tertiary characters need to be necessary to the story. Short stories require fewer supporting characters; a rule I violate too often.

Goal: The MC needs a difficult goal to achieve within the framework of the two ideas, or despite the difficulties that the two ideas create. Goal is so important that I will often think of a great goal and then ideas and characters. No story ends without a goal. I used to pants my stories and they would just keep going, so now I develop the goal first.

Plotting: Inception, introduce MC and direction of story (goal or reason for continuing), ends with the inciting incident (might also be first conflict). First conflict is the point of no return, the MC commits to a goal. Second conflict is the big beat-down and leads to the darkest moments in the story. Third conflict is the climax of the story, the ultimate crisis. Resolution leads to the end of the story and may be very brief. I always plot major events and who is involved in them, but most often go no further. On the other end of the spectrum, I will outline the entire story in great detail, once my outline had more words than the finished story (This happens when I just don't want to write, but need to.).

Milieu: This is world building, background, personal foibles, setting, quirks, costuming, props, language, plot devices. This is the stuff that makes characters and settings real to the reader. An antagonist might be a bully, but what makes her a bully? Is it a desire to make everyone better than herself or a desire to feel superior to everyone? Did she fail in her past? Was her failure significant to the story? Does she wear significant clothes? Does she carry significant objects? Is there something on her office wall that is significant to the story? Know all of the primary and secondary characters as people with their own thoughts and desires. I do character studies.

How does the setting interact with the central ideas of the story? I want to connect my reader to setting, so I make sure to include smells and iconic visuals.

Milieu is a significant pass after the initial write. I make sure that the character dialog is consistent throughout. The reader needs to be grounded in setting with each changing scene. Some call this fleshing out the story, but I try to do as much fleshing out as I can in the initial write. In the milieu pass, I look more for continuity and story immersion.

Correction pass: Final pass before submission. I work backward by sentence. It helps me find grammatical errors and homophones.

That's the tip of the iceberg. This stuff is simple.

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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby LDWriter2 » Tue Aug 16, 2016 6:33 pm

For me it depends. Sometimes I have an idea and I just write it out. Sometimes I plan certain scenes in my head, or a few times the whole story. Sometimes there is one scene I came up with and have to come up with a story that leads to that scene. Sometimes I know just the opening and just start writing. I don't like that last because I get the feeling it's junk, even though when I arame what I wrote it doesn't look that bad.
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richardf
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby richardf » Mon May 08, 2017 3:57 am

If you have some problems with an inspiration, you would better to use the help of the true essay writer. If you are not the lazy person as I am then you need to have a rest, enjoy your free time with friends and only then try to write an eesay one more time. I am sure, you can do this! Good luck.

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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby amyhg » Tue May 09, 2017 7:16 pm

Up until a few months ago, I always thought I was an outline writer. You know, plan the beginning, middle, end -- double check themes, conflict, and character story arch. sub-headings. sub-headings of sub-headings. Bullet points. Looked something like this:

1. instigating conflict
A. main character wants...
-scene:
B. main enemy is?
C. main character meets.../faces.../fails.../etc...
-scene:
D. main character reacts, which leads to... to which the main character responds..., which ultimately ends up at [consequential conflict/climax].
-scene:
-scene:
-scene:
-etc...
2. consequential conflict/climax
A. External Conflict
B. Internal Conflict
-decision = theme
3. resolution

The outline ends up much more fleshed out than above with lots of side notes about the main character, metaphorical bits in the story, twists and turns, etc..., but that's the very basic breakdown. Lots of editing follows, at least one beta group reading and critique, an out-loud reading, let it sit, final edit, and submit.

I wish I could actually use it because it seems so straight-forward and logical. The reality is that I am more discovery writer than outline writer. When I try to use this outline and follow point A to point B, I find that my writing struggles to follow the plan, and if I force it to, then I write the soul out of it and end up with writer's block.

In the end, the best scenario for me is to take a scene I've already imagined or a place I've already imagined, throw a character into it, and see what happens. The final steps are the same as the outline process though: lots of follow-up editing, at least one beta group reading and critique, an out-loud reading, let it sit, final edit, and submit. There's also some specific editing techniques I use: marking all being verbs and changing as many as possible, marking all "ly" words and making sure they're worthy, checking for redundancy in information, scenes, or characters and merging if necessary, marking all explanations and deciding if they can be shown somehow or if they're okay, making sure scenes accomplish multiple goals (world-building, character development, relaying essential information, etc...)... Lots of checkboxes to mark.

I'm also a compulsive editor--going back and making changes as new ideas occur to me before moving forward. I also often spend the first hour of my writing time editing what I wrote previously. I have to be careful not to use editing as an excuse not to write, but this process works better for me than writing straight through and then trying to remember what changes I intended to make.
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dale_carothers
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby dale_carothers » Wed May 10, 2017 6:52 pm

I see & hear stuff in my head. Then I start typing. No methodology or plans.

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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby Dustin Adams » Thu May 11, 2017 4:07 am

dale_carothers wrote:I see & hear stuff in my head.

Should I worry about you, my friend? wotf019
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disgruntledpeony
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby disgruntledpeony » Thu May 11, 2017 4:22 am

Dustin Adams wrote:
dale_carothers wrote:I see & hear stuff in my head.

Should I worry about you, my friend? wotf019

What, you don't visualize your stories in your mind? wotf019 Some of my characters are strong enough personalities in my mind that I can vocalize them out loud for fun and profit. (Mostly fun thus far, because it makes tabletop gaming more entertaining.)

As far as the topic itself goes, my writing process varies. I try to outline these days, because it helps with my initial draft, but after that I tend not to worry about the outline overmuch. I usually go through about three drafts before I even think of submitting somewhere. My husband is *usually* the only person to see my first draft; I ask for more public critiques around the second draft, and use what I've learned from that to inform the third. I sometimes ask for critique at that point, too, if I feel like the story is still missing something. Otherwise, I start sending it out (usually to WotF first).
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2016: SF, n/a, SHM, SHM
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dale_carothers
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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby dale_carothers » Thu May 11, 2017 7:41 am

Dustin Adams wrote:
dale_carothers wrote:I see & hear stuff in my head.

Should I worry about you, my friend? wotf019


Maybe....

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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby dale_carothers » Thu May 11, 2017 7:45 am

disgruntledpeony wrote:
Dustin Adams wrote:
dale_carothers wrote:I see & hear stuff in my head.

Should I worry about you, my friend? wotf019

What, you don't visualize your stories in your mind? wotf019 Some of my characters are strong enough personalities in my mind that I can vocalize them out loud for fun and profit. (Mostly fun thus far, because it makes tabletop gaming more entertaining.)

As far as the topic itself goes, my writing process varies. I try to outline these days, because it helps with my initial draft, but after that I tend not to worry about the outline overmuch. I usually go through about three drafts before I even think of submitting somewhere. My husband is *usually* the only person to see my first draft; I ask for more public critiques around the second draft, and use what I've learned from that to inform the third. I sometimes ask for critique at that point, too, if I feel like the story is still missing something. Otherwise, I start sending it out (usually to WotF first).



I have a list of people who read my stories too. My wife has the final say. She's a brilliant proofreader & doesn't let me get away with anything. She doesn't read genre stuff and often catches character motivation and underdeveloped concepts.

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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby Jeremyteg » Thu May 11, 2017 1:42 pm

I am a hardcore discovery writer. My outlines never pan out to the point of being totally useless. For most projects I start out with an idea for a specific scene. I then unpack everything about that scene; who are the people taking part in it, where are they, what are they doing, what do they want and why? Then I write the scene, which prompts ideas for the next scene, and so on. Then I edit it all ruthlessly until I get to something coherent.

It's a bit like sculpting a physics-defiant block of marble that gets bigger the more you work on it.

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Re: What's Your Short Story Writing Process?

Postby LDWriter2 » Thu May 11, 2017 7:14 pm

Dustin Adams wrote:
dale_carothers wrote:I see & hear stuff in my head.

Should I worry about you, my friend? wotf019




One famous writer said something along the lines of "Of course I have arguments with imaginary characters, I am a writer"
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html


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