Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Monday, 27 December 2010

I've Got a Feeling.

My fingers are tingling and my imagination is running wild and no, it's not due to too much chocolate or alcohol over the festive period. I can feel a writing frenzy coming on. You know that feeling when you think you might burst (not through troffing one, or three, mince pies too many) if you don't get something down on paper in the next five minutes? Well that's the feeling I have right now. I have ideas for short stories running riot in my head. I've just got to try and catch them, pin them down and tease out some sort of usable story out of them.

 I think the 'dead space' between Christmas and New Year provides the ideal opportunity to get writing ideas down on paper and start working them into a plan. I used to just start writing short stories as soon as I got the idea but I found, in many cases, I petered out halfway through as I didn't know where the story was going and I couldn't figure out a good ending. Maybe this meant that the idea wasn't strong enough to carry a story in the first place. This is were I think I have been going wrong. So this time I'm going to sit down with all of my ideas and plan the stories out. Some writers don't plan as they feel it ruins the spontaneity and surprise in writing. Part of me still agrees with this, that if you know where you are going my fear is that I will become bored with it and not want to complete the story. But, on the other hand, I think that knowing where you are going with a short story from the start helps you to structure the story better and can save a lot of wasted time when you haven't planned but have dived straight in without your rubber ring and find yourself drowning half way through, with no story at the end of it.

I'll let you know how I get on!
Happy writing.

Julie xx

10 comments:

Kitti said...

Typically, when I write short stories, I plan out my story to a general degree. I end up adding minor twists that surprise me if it's not on the plan(sometimes it still surprises me when it is on the plan). Planning also helps with doing some really sly foreshadowing; the type that goes over your head the first time you read it, then the second(or third!) time, the reaction is, "Whoa! How did I miss that?!"
I've never tried planning my storied to the details, so I'll try it. :)
-Kitti

Julie P said...

Hi, Kitti,

I think it's a case of trial and error. What works in planning one story might not in another. And that's what I love about writing short stories - the variety and trying out new ways of writing. I love it when a story takes you by surprise when you're writing! I'm always keen to find new ways of writing and trying them out.

Julie xx

Kitti said...

Julie,

I was wondering if you could read one of my short stories. I wrote it for school, but I've been editing it to try to make it better (my teacher recommended adding more suspense).
I don't know if you have enough time for this type of thing, and if you don't, that's fine.

-Kitti

Julie P said...

Hi, Kitti

I'm afraid I can't read any short stories but if you have any specific questions about them I'd be happy to help. I think your teacher is the best source of info. Maybe she felt you were giving too much away too early in the story and by not giving the reader too much info you make them want to read on to find out what happens rather than lose interest because you've told them too much.

I hope your story works well. have you any idea what you're going to do with it when it's finished?

Best of luck
Julie xx

Kitti said...

Julie-

I was wondering what your opinion on having a prologue/epilogue in a short story. Do you think it should be simply separated from the story itself, or have the word "epilogue" above it?
In my story I have a short paragraph-long epilogue of "ten years later..." Do you think something like this should just be distinguished by a slightly more distinct space between paragraphs?

Thanks a ton!

Kitti

Julie P said...

Hi, Kitti

I'm by no means an expert on this and I think it would depend on how long your short story is. But I've never seen a prologue or epilogue in any of the short stories I've read that have been published in the women's mags. It might be different for literary short stories - of which I don't write.

Generally a short story should start slap bang in the middle of the action to engage the reader from the start, you can then go back do a bit of back story if you want to provide some extra information.

I know that a lot of books have prologues - I have one in the novel I did for NaNo last year. But that prologue was full of suspense and gave nothing away as to what might happen in the main novel. It just (I hope) made the reader think 'ohhh what's happening here then. I must read on!'

With shorter short stories of under 5,000 words I would suspect there wouldn't be room for a prologue or epilogue. My short stories tend to be between the 800 to 2,500 word mark.

What do other bloggers think?

It might be wise to ask bloggers like Womag and Sally Quilford who are much more knowledgable and experienced than me - they've had loads of short stories published.

Hope this helps

HelenMHunt said...

I think some stories need to be planned and others don't. It depends on the story and how strongly the characters are trying to tell it to you! I seem to have developed a very non-chronological way of writing stories recently - but it seems to be working!

Julie P said...

Hi, Helen

As long as it works for you then that's all that matters. I love varying the way I work to see if it makes a difference.

Best of luck for 2011 and beyond!

Julie xx

Erin J. said...

i love how you put alcohol and chocolate in the same catogory of stuff that makes imagination run wild and your fingers tingle <3

Julie P said...

Hi, Erin

Tee hee! I did didn't I! Mind you, it has to be said that chocolate is the best for it for me as alcohol just sends me to sleep (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)

Julie xx