Like many others, I'm not a big fan of prompts, or of any kind of "practice" writing. Nor am I a big fan of planning short stories. Some few can make anything work, but prompts and practice make little sense to me. The best way to learn how to write good stories is by writing story after story of the kind you most want to write, and the best practice is the same.
As for planning, some make it work, but the test is simple. It's working if you're selling the stories, and it's not working if you aren't selling the stories. I don't know many successful short story writers who spend time planning, plotting, outlining, researching, or anything else along these lines.
As for pushing myself as a short story writer, I write stories that interest me, and try to write them as well as possible. I try to write great sentences, of course, but it's story and character that matter most, and most of my effort goes into making characters come alive, and telling a story worth reading.
I do think it's good to use different POV characters, to write outside your genre often, to write longer and shorter, to master, in fact, coming in at whatever length the story should be. Starting a short story and letting it turn into a novel is purely a matter of not knowing proper structure, and this pretty much always leads to disaster.
Tried that, lots of times. Always get a nice opening scene and then loads of wandering tripe that goes no where and means nothing, even to me. My latest try at that was about 6 months ago--got a nice first 1/3rd that time. Pretty face, swan-like neck. If someone follows the line of that neck, tho, they see 3 shoulders, half an arm with 7 mis-matched fingers.... And i somehow managed to miss giving it a heart. Poor miscarried thing.
Originally Posted by jaksen
LOL, me too! I've tried just sitting down with a character in mind and writing...no plan...what a mess.
Originally Posted by cathyfreeze
I don't actually write my "outlines" down, nothing that fancy, but I do need a working idea in my head what the premise of the story will be.
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
Right now, I'm just trying to make writing more of a habit. In general, I'm very hesitant about what I write, and I'm usually quite quiet even among friends. I've recently started a blog just to get myself in the discipline of sitting down to write daily. I'm hoping this will at the very least help me not be so hesitant when writing fiction and discarding my ideas before they even reach the page.
Having said that, what I should try to do to push myself is simply force myself to finish my stories. I have at least 15 first paragraphs to 15 different stories. I shouldn't just give up on these just because what should happen next in the story doesn't come easily to me.
Best advice is write one paragraph or one page a day on one story~don't let yourself float from beginning to beginning. That's too easy, it's too light and fun. And when i do it, nothing is ever accomplished.
Have you ever read the Amber Chronicles? For me, writing is like walking the Pattern. It starts out easy and I feel powerful, but the farther in I get, the more committed, the slower and more excruciating it becomes to put one foot in front of the other. But it's just as rewarding for me to come out into the middle of that labyrinth as it is for Corwin. And fatal, at least for the story, if i stop for too long.
Ah, labored metaphors. Gotta love 'em.
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
I am definitely not a planner when it comes to writing short stories. The other day I just had a flicker of an idea for a story and began writing immediately. After the first couple of pages, it was no longer my story but the protagonist's story, and some interesting work surfaced.
About writing a story in an hour, I can write the first draft in that time but it still needs revision and attention to details like tension, internal conflict, and high stakes for the protagonist.
I don't think anyone can "push" themselves to be a better writer. The key ingredient to getting things written is discipline. If you aren't disciplined in other areas of your life, it's likely that you're not writing as much as you have the potential for.
I write short stories to at least keep writing. With my day job, I find writing a novel difficult, although I have finished two.
Plus there are ideas that are totally not in sync with my novel, and I need to write them out as shorts.
When I think of pushing, I guess I'm way behind all of you.
Last edited by Raphee; 05-04-2012 at 02:06 PM.