Did you finish your story for March? I totally did!
April fools. 🙃
I have 7,466 words with a very solid beginning (read: too long), a rather meaty middle (read: too long), and the first hint of an ending. Is the pacing all off? YEP. Is the whole thing way too long? YEP.
And is that okay? YEP!!! The whole purpose of the Story a Month Challenge is to learn how to write a short story. While I wouldn't say I've figured it out at all, I can very clearly see progress between what happened in February versus March.
I plan to finish up this short story today, and I'll use what I've learned as I prepare for the next one!
P.S. I've shared another excerpt below. I used the audio prompt to write a rom-com, and having never written anything like that, I found it delightfully fun.
The Lady of Charlotte, an excerpt
Charlotte Caruthers should have seen it coming. Everything had been going just a little too well lately. Sure, the medieval mill that was the entire basis of her archaeologic tenure here at Ozark Medieval Castle wasn’t as far along as it needed to be, and sure, she was getting frazzled around the edges trying to navigate the carpenters who kept quitting every other week. But if life were a line graph, then hers would definitely be on the upward trend.
It only made sense, then, that something had to go awry in her slice of thirteenth century heaven. That was just how the universe operated.
And in this instance, that something was named Harry Monroe. Her cheating, good for nothing, fabulously wealthy, fabulously smart, and fabulously handsome ex-boyfriend.
Someone's lunch keeps disappearing from the company fridge.
One of the things I'm struggling most with is how to begin a short story. As I've said before, I always dive in and discover three scenes later that I've, yet again, started writing anoter novel.
In fact, my little excerpt above? I got to that scene only after I wrote 3500 words of introduction. 😬 It wasn't until I wrote Harry's arrival that I realized his beat was actually the proper starting point for a shorter work of fiction.
Knowing that, I then condensed everything from my 3500 words into a few sentences: Charlotte works as an experimental archaeologist at a thirteenth century castle where she's building a mill, but it's not going well because the carpenters keep quitting.
Wham, bam, that's all the reader needs to know. Then they dive into the actual plot of the short story: Charlotte's ex-boyfriend arrives, so how will she deal with him?
As inefficient as it is to write 3500 words and then whittle it down to 100, I'm actually pleased I even spotted the problem. Susan of 2020 would have just been lost.
So, if you're like me and struggling to get the story going, maybe take a look at what you've written at your start. What's the main conflict for the story? Does the setup need to be there? Can you just jump right in without much introduction?
Short Story Recommendations
Remember, the best way to improve your writing is to read widely and study how others create.
Here are two stories I've recently read and loved:
"Oomph" by Emery Lord in the anthology Meet Cute
"Bullet, Butterfly" by Elsie Chapman in the anthology A Thousand Beginnings and Endings