Short story stuff

January 30, 2012

So, I think that overall, I’ve done pretty well on my January goals and projects list, but one area where I’ve been procrastinating is the short stories department. Week after week I’ve resolved to outline a new short, (or even complete a first draft!) or rewrite one of my existing stories, like ‘Project Fast Track’ or ‘Father Ismay’, and for four full weeks, I made pretty much no progress.

Working on shorts is hard, especially since I’ve raised my expectations for them, and I guess part of the problem was that it was easy to procrastinate while I hadn’t reached my JanNoWriMo goals for sample chapters of ‘The Scroll’ novel manuscript. Maybe I shouldn’t be pushing myself to work on a novel project and shorts at the same time.

But I really do want to do more with shorts this year, and before the end of June in particular, since even though I’m not planning to go back to the short story workshop, I’m sure if I go back to Lawrence, some people will ask me how my short stories are doing this year. When it comes to breaking short story ideas, I think that it’s the sort of thing that I can build momentum on if I keep working on it every day – keep a file of notions that haven’t quite jelled into story outlines, for instance, to see if maybe I can find the right angle on them tomorrow, or next week.

So I think that’s going to be one of my big targets for February. (As well as revising the ‘Scroll’ stuff, gulp – I want to have my workshop application ready for Feb 29th.) And I think I managed to make some headway on a new story outline this evening, based on a random prompt I found on a website of random generators.

“The seaside is the location, happiness is the theme. A mirror is an object that plays a part in the story.”

At first I thought that was a pretty useless prompt, and I was even tempted to try a different website. But I kept at it, looking to see if I could figure out a fantasy take on those three elements, and something’s coming together. I’ve got two characters – the first is a teenaged boy, Melvin, who lives in the seaside fishing village; his father’s a fishing boat captain, and his big brother that he loved was lost overboard in a storm.

Everybody in the village says that the storms are bad because of the old, ugly witch who lives in the grey house up on top of the cliff. But when Melvin climbs up the cliff to confront the witch, he finds a beautiful girl about his brother’s age, Sorina, who isn’t a witch, but she has a temper and a dark secret involving mirrors…

I tried using the random character generator at http://shortstoryideas.herb.me.uk/ to flesh out the teenage boy character, but I got a name that just didn’t fit – I think it was ‘Walter Jenkins’, and the full description was so ludicrous, I wish that I’d saved it. 😦 I remember that he was 80 years old and had muddy blue hair.

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