Monday Musings #10

500 Words or Less:

So there’s this writing contest that I’m trying to enter. The challenge for me? A captivating, complete story in 500 words or less. I’m not always the most wordy person, but there’s a reason I have more novels (finished or not) than short stories in my personal portfolio.

To me at least, writing short stories is harder than writing a novel. Especially 500 words or less. Flash fiction I guess you could consider this?

I did take one January-term seminar on flash fiction, and it never got easy for me. I hardly ever feel like my story hits its potential in 2 pages.

I did write one piece to try submitting, but I had 3 people read it, one who was also an English/CW major, and two who aren’t, and got some interesting feedback. Confusing too, because everyone has a completely different opinion about it. Everyone read into it differently (although that was intentional). And everyone thinks it’s a different stage as far as being turn-in ready. Gah! What am I supposed to do now? Hm.

I think it’s partly my own fault though. I tried to write some really introspective, abstract piece that I don’t know that I’m capable of writing in less than a month. I think this piece needs to sit for awhile while I brainstorm how to get the result I was wanting.

I’m trying to come up with another idea, but I keep making everything too complicated. There’s a reason I turned in novel chapters during my creative writing seminars. Short stories are hard!

I think what I’m going to try to do, is create a character and try to write several short stories about said character all in one document. Then it will FEEL like I’m writing something longer, but really I’m not!

Part of me really believes that this is a mind over matter thing. I’m most likely more than capable of coming up with something short AND great. Telling a good story like I know I’m good at, just in a shorter time span.

I tell good stories, dangit! (I’m motivating myself here) And I CAN write something good in 500 words or less!

I guess the problem is that we as writers (or really just humans in general) tend to be extra critical of ourselves in everything.

I see it in fitness groups on Facebook: people post their before and afters, claiming they “don’t see a difference” when to the world, it’s obvious! Sometimes, I read my own work and think it’s shit. But someone else reads it and thinks it’s great!

I’ve gotta work on turning my criticalness down a notch (not completely though, of course). I’ve gotta just let myself write and stop hating it simply because I wrote it.

And I need to share my stuff with other people more. Their nice comments make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Off to try this short story thing again.

And also, this post is 495 words. Booyah!


13 thoughts on “Monday Musings #10

  1. Totally agree––short stories are so much more difficult for me to write than novels! Maybe I’m just bad at being concise, but I have a lot of trouble telling a story that feels “complete” in so few words. I think I need more practice with it, haha. Good luck with your short story and with the contest!! 😀

  2. I don’t think I’ve written many things less than 500 words, but I got a lot of practice with longer short stories back when I was writing fanfiction. In retrospect, I think it’s good practice. All the backstory already exists, and presumably any readers already know it. Good practice for getting a feel for what’s necessary to actually mention in the story.

      • Heh, I wrote some fanfic for that show too. That was one of the harder fandoms to write in though, I always felt if a fic author (coughcoughme) didn’t have any medical knowledge then the writing had to be super good to make up for that missing element.

      • I was a weird kid growing up. Super intrigued by medical stuff. Discovery Health was one of my favorite channels!
        Never wanted to go into healthcare though. Definitely not for me, ha!

  3. I agree with the consensus about short stories being generally more difficult. I know they are for me.

    However, your post did come to a nice resolution at the 495 word mark and hit the necessary points you wanted to make. Maybe the flow of this post can provide some help in how to tool the flow of the story to hit that word count?

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