The Story Match Challenge—Day 3: July 9, 2015

After finishing at half past midnight, last night, I thought I’d try something different today—like actually writing first thing, instead of distracting myself with a bunch of other stuff, like blogging, reading blogs, playing Facebook games (which I tend to do when I feel stressed and which I’m quite addicted to as a result—fortunately, I’m more addicted to writing, so it’s just a matter of switching tracks). Anyway, I digress.
I got up early—it’s the only way to kick the habit of staying up late—and headed straight into the first flash fiction piece, which ended up being a weird bit of science fiction about rabbits. By midday, I had managed to complete the three flash fiction pieces and poems that go along with this challenge, but I hadn’t even started the short story. It had been 6 hours since I started writing. I was a bit concerned about that, until I remembered I had been writing blog entries and sorting out my head during that time, as well. By 1:30 p.m. I had written 3,528 words, done the washing, made lunches and breakfasts and done the dishes. All in all, not too bad an effort.
I finally checked in on Dean’s blog to see what the word damage was for the day—to be met by a picture of cats. I love the cats. We don’t have any, so I live vicariously through other people’s. Writing? Oh, right.
So, the writing target for today’s short story is 4,550 words. Again, sounds easy, but it’ll be a challenge. Yesterday, I discovered I really needed to practice writing short stories between 3,000 and 6,000 words. My more recent stuff tends to either be very short (under 1,000 words), or very long (9,000-12,000 words). Yesterday, I also kept catching myself going for an ending well before the word limit. I guess that tells me the flash fiction pattern is firmly established. Now, I need to learn another pattern.
I am also contemplating trying another experiment—I know, an experiment within an experiment, but it fits. I’ve been noticing that most of the stories Dean’s written this month have ended up fitting into one or another of his existing universes. I think, all bar one to date, and I wonder if it’s any easier to write with a universe in mind, or if that makes it just a little harder.
And that reminds me that I have several universes which appeared when I was writing my first flash fiction and poetry anthologies, as well as the universes that already exist in the novels I’ve written. So, I’m starting to toy with the idea of seeing what the difference is between writing blind and writing with a universe in mind.
I also note that Dean has yet to start a story with a universe in mind; his stories just seem to gravitate towards one, and then he double checks to see if they fit. If I do this experiment, it’ll probably be a lot more artificial than that, as none of my worlds are developed to that point. It’s interesting to see the differences in writing with forty years behind you, and four. I think I’ll be trying another short story challenge in the future, just to see how that difference grows as I keep writing.
Today, I’m feeling a little flat, starting this challenge after 6 hours of being up and mostly writing, so I am turning to M.D. Benoit’s random title generator link supplied by Chuck Wendig for his latest flash fiction challenge to help me get started. The six titles generated were as follows: Every Girl, The Green Legacy, Game of Soul, The Dream’s Sword, The Child of the Man, Vision of the Dream. I didn’t like any of them, so I tried again and got: Broken Servants, The Cold Windows, Shores of Secrets, The Tale’s Rive, The Lord of the Souls and Silk in the Door. Still no sparks, so I just started writing.
And then I  had to have a nap. Late night, early morning, by afternoon my body was reminding me I wasn’t as young as I used to be. Three hours later I emerged, and the story was still forming in my head. Looked like I was going to be able to test that setting theory out early, so I started writing, and got slowed down by the need to research, but I did discover a couple of things:

  1. It only helps a little bit to have the setting in your head, when the setting is in the formative stages of its development;
  2. Factual research will slow down your writing, but it's worth it;
  3. Putting accurate facts in your writing is a good way to shape the story and helps with the word count;
  4. Putting accurate facts in your writing without losing story momentum is tricky, but well worth the effort;
  5. I still like dinosaurs.

I hit 11:45 p.m. and ran out of steam. I’ll be up early in the morning to meet the next challenge. Hopefully, I’ll be able to come back and complete this tale before the end of the month.
Am I having fun yet? Why, yes, yes I am.
Challenge Successes and Not-So-Successes:

  • 366 Days of Flash Fiction: Completed—A Question of Rabbits (science fiction-306 words) and Eye of the Elves (fantasy-1,106 words);
  • 366 Days of Poetry: Completed—Where You Go (fantasy-83 words) and The Pirate Ships (science fiction-59 words);
  • Another 365 Days of Flash Fiction: Completed—Bereskaven Welcome (science fiction-273);
  • Another 365 Days of Poetry: Completed—Slumber and Come to Me (science fiction-78)
  • Story Match: Today—Incomplete—an Australian steampunk story (1,593/4,550 words)
Words today: 4,486


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