Remember when I said that I was going to finish the first draft of my novel by the end of this year? Well, that hasn’t happened yet and with less than two weeks to go, it looks like I am going to be dragging an unfinished novel into 2009 with me. The two short stories I wanted to finish will get done though and I’ve, ahem, started on a third.
It kind of developed out of the descriptions I’ve been making of the landscape here. I had the feeling that I could turn my notes into a short story with a very strong sense of place. Since today is my last day in Andalucia, writing the story has also been a nice way to reflect on my time here. Those three months sure went by fast.
For my last short story effort of this year, I’m trying to avoid the two mistakes I always make when writing short fiction: over-writing and over-plotting. I think the over-writing stems from my desire to create beautiful images with words. I go over each sentence several times so that each one is part of an elaborately constructed description. In the end, all the imagery distracts the reader from the story. The over-plotting is probably something I picked up in school when we learned that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Unless you have 8 000 to 10 000 words to work with, there will be no space for all this build up. With only 2 000 – 5 000 words, you want to head straight for the climax. A short story should be a moment of clarity, or an epiphany. Once you start talking about plot, you are in already in trouble.