Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group- Time Management and Stories that Want Bigger Word Counts

Hello everyone!  We're now in November!  I can't believe October has actually gone now...on one hand, it feels like a million years ago since my first IWSG post, but it also feels like the year is just slipping away bewilderingly rapidly!  I bought my first Christmas presents of the year yesterday- whats up with that?!

While I am still doing ok, confidence-wise, I am experiencing a couple of problems right now, that I'm sure some of you are familliar with.

The first one is...Time Management.

I don't know what's happened to me over the last few weeks- I certainly hope its just a weird phase, especially as I've had little spurts of energy and organised-ness, but I seem to be completely unable to get anything done properly at the moment.  This applies to everything, not just writing.  I was pleased with myself that I finally got round to hoovering my bedroom last week!  I honestly can't believe I've managed to find time to write this post! (I was supposed to do it this morning though... <.< )

I think its actually down to my work life, and how my shifts are very erratic and unstable right now.  It makes planning a schedule difficult...I'm often getting 3 days notice for the next week's rotas (3 days including the weekend, which I don't work).  Then I have to fit in everything else, as well as the writing.  Fitting in time to write is something I know every writer has problems with, so I'm not beating myself up over it; I'm aware it can't be helped and things will smooth over soon.  I'm just so glad I'm not doing Nano WriMo, though, I would be extremely frustrated by now otherwise.

(And thats not to say I'm not frustrated, its really put me in a funk that I haven't been able to shake for a while...I'm hoping the last couple of days are indicative of this trend coming to a welcome end!).

(An upside is that I have been being naughty and writing at work!  Working on a Returns desk with no customers is hugely boring, and I've started on a short story there XD)

The other, slightly more problematic dilemma is that my stories are wanting more words than I can give!

I'm writing a lot of short stories and sending them off for submissions for anthologies or eZines and the like, and been relatively successful so far *do a lil daaaance*.  In fact, there are two things I LOVE about short stories.  The first is that I tend to get so attached to my characters that if I'm writing a longer story, say novel length, it can be hard for me to get finished...finishing the writing finishes me exploring and having a "relationship" with these characters.  This is something that isn't so bad with short stories...I still have back stories and backgrounds and a connection, but my time with those characters is brief, yet still enjoyable.

The second is that short story writing is teaching me valuable lessons that I'm sure will be hugely useful when it comes to writing the re-drafts of my novels; word count culling.  I'm quickly getting the hang of the fact that I, a consumate waffler, need to get to the bloody point!  I need to pick top vocabulary, weed out redundant sentences, or just completely redo certain paragraphs to get the story told within the word count allocated.

This hasn't been too bad so far.  Some stories, I find I have a little room left over, so I expand just a bit.  Some of them are almost squeezed in with mere words to spare- but I make it work, even if I like to take up as much of the word count as possible.

On Halloween, I submitted a short story to a submission called the "No Monsters Allowed" Anthology- the theme being horror, but not of a supernatural kind; purely human.  I wrote a story that seemed quite simplistic, short enough to fit in the 5000 count- 2 school bullies are arsing around at home, trolling kids on the internet, and then find themselves being held at gunpoint.  The gunwoman, a former bully victim they tormented, proceeds to torture and murder them ^_^ It seemed quite collected and rounded...I was surprised to find that it was practically BULGING out of the 5000 word count.  Perhaps 7000 would have been a nicer fit, but I had to edit brutally, culling so much, to the point that I felt the writing was negatively affected.  I sent what I could anyway (I have 2 versions of the story, the one where I started out and realised I was "waffling" too much, and the second which was copy-and-pasted into a new document and hacked down to size mercilessly), even though I wasn't entirely happy with it, and felt the ending was a tad rushed.  I felt that perhaps the atmosphere I was aiming for wasn't built up enough either.  Maybe it was just me, but reading it, the editing left it feeling very stunted and blunt.  Overly simplistic.

I'm now facing the same problem with my current short story, for the "Impossible Spaces" Anthology.

I came up with the idea for this story back in August; when my initial idea for Impossible Spaces seemed inappropriate for it, this other idea seemed like the natural alternative.  Its a dark science fiction tale, and the more and more I thought about the background, the cultures, the characters, the more vast this world became, as did its main characters, Shaari and Kallin.  Shaari was the character I was writing about for Elisabeth Kauffmanover's "What Are You Waiting For?" blogfest back in September.  Since then even, Shaari has blossomed into a character I have become hugely attached to, as has her lover, Kallin. 

Last weekend, after much note-taking, day-dreaming and deliberation, I started to write Shaari's story.  Now, even as I started, I had already decided, that she was probably going to end up in a novel-length version of the same tale.  In fact, the world I have set these characters in has thrown up a lot of interesting hypothetical questions regarding gender, personal identity, race, culture, philosophy, religion; so many things, not all of which apply directly to Shaari and Kallin, but would definately affect people in the same world.  I decided Shaari's story might be almost a "sneak preview" into what would come later, a fully-detailed story about her and Kallin.  I wasn't too bothered about cutting back some of her tale for the short-story submission- it's written in first person (which is usually not my preference, but felt very right for this story) and because of this, its basically a recollection of her tale.  It can be condensed.


I've probably got about, oh I don't know, 2000 words left to go?  I'm very worried this is not enough. 

I hope I don't have to cull too much to get there; I need the emotional element of this tale to remain intact, not just for the reader, or even for me now, but for my characters.  Does anyone else have this?  Demanding characters?  I get it a lot.  Its almost as if they direct me what to write, and won't shut up until I have satisifed them!

I did have another idea for Impossible Spaces...but I promptly forgot it (which is a massive shame, all I can remember thinking was "Wow, thats a good idea!" XD But I had a bit a traumatic day that day, and I think it was drowned out when I decided to get drunk later that evening! Oops!).

Not sure what I'm going to do about Shaari...I want to enter this anthology, even if it means with another idea, but I can't let Shaari down by editing her story to the point that it becomes dull and poorly written.  She has such a beautiful relationship with Kallin, I honestly do believe other people would really enjoy their story...but it has to be done right!

Well, everyone, I hope you all having a good month.  I have to finish up now, because I'm off to watch some fireworks!  Good evening, y'all!

(Edit: back from the fireworks, and goodness, how many typos I made! *Fixed* XD)