In May of 2010 I began an adventure.
I had spent the months prior to that fighting to finish a fantasy novel of ‘epic proportions.’ And by that I mean – it was already 80,000 words long and it was only about a fifth of the way into the story. I was doing everything wrong and all of my character arcs ended far too soon.
I was defeated. I didn’t know how to proceed.
So I decided to take a break. I wasn’t getting anywhere trying to write this novel. Trilogy. Series. Whatever.
Thus in May I began one of my first short stories since I was in middle school. My short story skills were rusty if they existed at all. Towards the end of May I finished my first short story – “Cruel as The Grave”, and submitted it to the British Fantasy Society Short Story Contest. Did it win? Not at all.
But it was a great experience.
I was immediately hooked.
Since then I have written roughly twenty short stories and flash fiction pieces. Twenty stories in one year. Is that a bad ratio? Perhaps.
But I’m getting better. When I first started this adventure I would write about one story a month. In the last three months, that rate has double to more like one story every two weeks.
This adventure has taught me a lot. I’ve learned to save words. To cut unnecessary information. I’ve recognized info dumps and how they can ruin a story. I’ve learned how to make vague references to a character’s history – enough to entice the reader, not bog them down in unnecessary back story.
I’ve learned how to avoid cliches. How to properly use the semi-colon. I’ve discovered my own distinct style – my penchant for fragment sentences, and my need for caution in abusing them.
I’ve learned that my writing reflects who I am. And that it’s more about expressing myself and writing because I have this burning need to – than about getting published or making money (although that’s nice to!).
In the end, I have enjoyed this journey supremely. And I don’t think it’s over. If at all possible, I’d like to double my current short story/flash fiction numbers. And after I’ve given every attempt to get them published – my desire is to ‘self-publish’ a collection of my works.
And after that? Or during that? Well, I just might get started on my novel again. This time better prepared. This time knowing more. This time with better tools and a sharper mind.
What does all of this mean for you? Well, maybe it just means if you feel like you’re stuck in a writing rut – branch out. Try something new. Shorter. Longer. Only dialogue. Use a writing prompt. Write. Polish. Submit. Don’t worry about it being the next New York Time’s Best Seller.
Just write. And just love it.
I know that’s what I’m doing!
~Alexis A. Hunter