WEEK 2 – IT BEGINS…
…a bit earlier than scheduled.
Jeni, our WIM game master, got a bit excited and dropped the prompt a little early for this week, so of course I had to draft something up immediately.
You can find her post here with links to all participating writers’ blogs:
In this post I’m going to go over the prompt, my initial thoughts, and how I drafted it.
As well as posting my draft for your viewing pleasure. Sorry kids, I was a bit ahead of schedule with that part, so I’ve removed the draft for now. I’ll say more about that further on.
Now, I’ll be honest, photo prompts are not really my jamb. (Is it jam or jamb?) Strawberry is my jam for the record – but I digress.
I don’t know why, but when someone says, “write a story about this photo,” I often have trouble moving forward with it. I don’t know why, maybe if feels like there aren’t enough parameters – IDK. 🤷🏻♀️
Anyway, the things that rushed through my head were, Wall-E, post-apocalyptic, lake dried up from climate change. I tried to then focus on the Sky, because that was really a lovely part of the picture, and it popped in my head, I could do a story about a space ship and what they would think finding this old boat. That’s what I started with.
I got about 400 words in and needed to stop because my kid wanted to go on a bike ride, and I was also not really feeling the story too much. I didn’t know what direction to take it in, so a break sounded good.
I also thought about trying out a plotting technique like the 9-Grid Plot plan as shown on Editor Cassandra’s blog, and other places across the internet. I do like using short stories to test out different writing techniques, and I highly recommend it as a way to solidify something you’ve recently learned.
I also considered using the exercises in Story Genius, by Lisa Cron – which is currently on my nightstand – to plot out a character-driven story from the get-go.
But then I took a shower…
As many of you know, a good walk or a long shower is a good way to get the writer juices flowing. I actually find listening to podcasts in the shower to really help with this. It may seem counter intuitive, being distracted with listening and such, but I often have moments of inspiration when listening to other writers talk.
My current new favorite writer podcast is DIY MFA. Listening to an episode from October, 2018 with author, Laurie Petrou, I had an epiphany. I was thinking about the hollowness of the boat’s hull in the picture and what sound that would make. It made me think of a feeling of hollowness one feels after being betrayed by someone close to them, and voila! I knew how I wanted the story to end.
So without further ado, here is my completely unedited, first draft: Again, nope. Sorry.
So I vomited the rest onto the page. I am pretty happy with how it turned out in general, it’s a perfectly fine short story, and structurally, as I will go over during my editing post(s?), it mostly works and has all 6 Elements of Story (sorry if you don’t have Wattpad you won’t be able to read this) I make sure to hit for a proper rise and fall as I learned from Story Grid, which are detailed in my ongoing book on craft, The Perfect Story, on Wattpad.
But I wasn’t in love with it.
I posted my story – a little early because that happens when you don’t read directions or schedules carefully… For reference, here is ours:
This was all fine…
But I was still underwhelmed by my story.
One reason is it’s all very serious. I certainly write serious things, my first novel which is currently ruminating 2/3 drafted (twice) while I become a better writer and get my dark comedy series finished is serious. But I kind of wanted something quirky and a little more fun. And I had visualization of panning down from the stars to inside the boat, all the way to a small bug of some sort in my mind, which I really liked.
Another reason is it just wasn’t grabbing me as I wrote it. I’ve also been working on a couple others for some Wattpad contests in the past week as well because with me, when it rains, it pours. And I haven’t been super happy with those either. I haven’t submitted them yet because they feel flat and it’s been like pulling teeth to get the words out. I’ve even considered…
I will so short outlines for longer works but I have NEVER plotted a short story. It just seems like a lot of front work for something so quick. 🤷🏻♀️
I generally know when something is working for me because I get in that flow state and I don’t want to stop because I’m loving it so much. With my recent shorts this hasn’t been the case. I was feeling like my storytelling was a little broken.
So what’s a girl to do?
Read some of Neil Gaiman’s short stories for starters. I’ve had his short story book sitting on my shelf for a few months just staring at me, next to one of Ursula Le Guin’s. I figured, how about a little reminder about what makes a good short story.
After reading a few I realized something which has been bothering me about my recent shorts – they don’t have a complete story within them. They are just bits and pieces, scenes really, pulled out of a longer story. There is no symmetry to them like there should be in a complete story. This is something which can be done in the editing process, but I do prefer my first drafts to at least be mostly correct in their structure.
So decided to take my quirky bug idea panning in and out from galactic to tiny scales, and I wrote another story. I like it a lot, and it’s probably the one I’ll continue with. It flowed out of me – all 900 some words – quickly and wonderfully and I had fun doing it – which is, in the end, the point of writing.
I’ll post both drafts on Saturday so you can compare them, and I may go ahead and edit both so you can see the comparative story structure.
See you soon!