So another month has gone by, which means another blog post is due. Being inspired by my recent challenge of writing a short story for an upcoming anthology submission, I decided to make this about what that entails.
As the title indicates, it’s not just about sitting down and writing a story. Sure, an idea can just pop in your head and you put pen to paper or fingers to keys and the words just flow. But sometimes that’s not the case. Occasionally, you struggle with an idea or have to plot and plan and research. Sometimes there’s inspiration and sometimes you have to force it.
That was the case recently for me. Several ideas manifested in my mind, but none panned out. I wanted to do something contemporary, but there were already so many that had been submitted. I thought about going for the obvious, but then felt it was cliche. So I dug deeper and did some research.
I wanted to highlight something that was often overlooked, whether that’s a group of people or folklore or a small point in history that influenced a larger event. Being that I didn’t live in the area that was the setting for the story, I resorted to intense scouring of the internet. I bounced some ideas off family and friends and then started to shape my story.
I had a vague idea of what I wanted and I played around with it. I went back to considering a contemporary story, even mapping out areas where it would take place, but in the end, decided I needed a more unique approach. So I looked at timelines and major events, finding a worthy year to set my story.
So I wrote and revised and rewrote. Days of research turned into just over 2,000 words. Then I edited it, had several people read it and give feedback, and then made more changes as necessary.
And that was just for a short story.
Now take a novel of over 260,000 words and wrap your head around what it took to write that. And research. And edit.
Personally, I may have gone a bit overboard with the research I put into my books. Yes, plural – Daimon is a trilogy…and then some. I knew the area I was writing about (I visited it frequently and even lived and worked there for awhile), but I still had to verify places, especially ones I didn’t know about prior to writing. I also wanted to find stories, ghost or otherwise, that only locals knew about to incorporate into it.
My husband and daughter helped, too, with planning out scenes using Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes (more so for the second book’s big action sequence). I sketched ideas and when inspiration struck, I jotted notes down. You should see my collection of notebooks; I carry them everywhere with me, just in case. I went so far as to find house plans online so I knew exactly how the house would be laid out when I detailed it in the story. Crazy, I know.
I have an accordion folder full of this stuff. I even wrote side stories (that I plan to someday put on this site) that give a different perspective from someone other than the main character. I wrote background stories on a few of them, just to bulk up the story in my mind. I wanted a 360° view.
Then there’s the editing process…but I think I’ll save that for a later post since it’ll make this one that much longer. I think I’ve probably bored you enough with my obsessive-compulsive writing issues.
Well, I hope you enjoyed. Stay tuned for the next post, probably in a month.
Oh, and that short story I was talking about…you can find it in the upcoming One Night in Salem anthology being published by FunDead Publications, which is coming out September 30!