How do you write a short story? It is, for me, a difficult concept to wrap my head round. Perhaps it is because I am a fan of the epic fifteen book fantasy series genre. Or perhaps, and this is the one I am secretly hoping to be true, it's because writing short stories is hard.
They are often about one particular moment in time. A microcosmic glance into a life. And yet they don't have to be stripped bare or utilitarian in nature. They can be rich and full of nuance, packing a powerful literary punch. I just can't write them. My main issue is with the ending. How do you parcel it up - where do you get the bow from?
I have a great idea for a short story. I can't tell you about it because then I will have written it and I haven't written it yet because it needs to have a 2000 word limit and that bothers me. Once upon a time I would have thought 2000 words to be a complex achievement on one document. After spending a scant five months writing a novel I know that 2000 words can easily be written provided the right environment has been created.
Preferably - a tight deadline, many other time sensitive jobs requiring my attention, an endless supply of hot tea and the exact right snack. This fluctuates depending on a multitude of variables which I cannot possibly expand upon here. It's the basis of a highly scientific paper that could be published in notable journals. Who am I kidding - it depends how much my husband has raided the biscuit tin and what rubbish I've been left with. No great short story has ever been written on the back of a measly rich tea.
The problem is the rocky marriage between the writer and that absolute devil of a time waster, procrastination. Here I am frantically scrabbling for words to fill a blog post when I could be writing the first draft of my shortness. All my jobs are jobbed. The man is out. The child asleep. Marmalade bread and butter pudding is currently baking in the oven. It's almost as if I need someone to give me permission, to pour the tea and say 'it's OK, you can write now.'
All I have to do now is find a pen that works.
MADhurst short story logo