Friday, September 6, 2013

10 Second Stories

I love it when I gain traction. Generally life is a string of instances where spinning wheels furiously gives birth to momentary bursts of movement. This week I covered some ground here and there.

My designer for my book recommended that I build a repertoire of short stories for the purpose of submission. Even though the Wednesday slot on this blog is reserved for works of fiction, actually sitting down and saying, "I'm going to write a short story" is incredibly intensive. Sometimes I think that short stories are passed off as these "narratives on training wheels." It's a good way of conceiving exactly what these stories could amount to, but these are compacted worlds. I've read short stories by Ray Bradbury and every time I come away with a sense of awe. These tales can't be longer than maybe 10 to 15 pages in the mass media print market, but they are cohesive. When you read them they stand alone, and that effect is extremely difficult to achieve.

So here are some of the short stories that I've begun working on, I'll give you the titles for now. Maybe you'll see them in a short fiction digest someday.

The Four Horsemen

Seven Deadly Sins

Homeless Magi

Calling Maintenance

I've tried to come up with stories that work on conventional themes and tropes so that they could be familiar to the reader. However I'm deciding to twist some of the details around, and turn them on their heads. What I love about Neil Gaiman and other comic book writers, is that they have these very powerful imaginations, but limit their changes made to the conventional story to one or two things. Usually if you read a short story from Neil Gaiman, or a comic book by Grant Morrison, one element will deviate from the otherwise normal and mundane narrative structure. One of my favorite short stories I heard by Neil Gaiman was Chivalry, a story about a woman who finds the Holy Grail at a Salvation Army store and afterwards is courted by Galaad Knight of the Round Table. It follows the beats of the "unwanted guest" scenario, but the subtle difference is that Galaad is this chivalrous gentleman who is very helpful. We expect as readers to encounter the stereotypical encounter where the woman is then pestered by the unwanted guest, but instead has her lawn manicured by a knight in shinning armor. In similar fashion my plan is to change these stories around in subtle ways, and try to find an angle that hasn't been done before. After all, it's good to be novel in a world full of tired out ideas.

Think of them as "10 Second Stories." If it takes longer than ten seconds to explain what your story is about, start over. Try it out sometime!


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