Monthly Archives: January 2008

Switching Gears, From Novel to Short Stories

Short stories are harder to write than novels.  It’s a completely different mindset and style, and if you’ve been writing novel scenes and then suddenly try to write a short story … your short story will be 30,000 words before you realize it.

If you ever do want to tackle it, think of it like this.  Try to write a story within the structure of poem (a cinquain or a string of two or three haiku).  Then use that as your outline for the short story.  Shoot for 4000 words or less.

It can be very Zen, and after a while the challenge will be like doing a really fun puzzle.  "How can I fit the story into this little box?"  By paring it down to only the very essential parts.  Nothing more.

– Quoting myself from a comment I left to a writer
friend on her blog, which I thought I’d share
with everyone else

MojoWriter Book of the Month

imageYou know those hilarious "Demotivator" posters put out by Despair, Inc.?  Here’s a publisher called Knock Knock Books who put out hilarious anti-self-help books in the same vein.  I already showcased their guide to procrastinating on GroovyMojo, but here I wanted to honor the one I think is the most brilliant.

The Complete Manual of THINGS THAT MIGHT KILL YOU.

From their website:  "Hypochondriacs have long had to satisfy their needs for self-diagnosis with medical reference materials written for the masses, but this revolutionary book is dedicated entirely to the hypochondriac’s unique perspective on health. The world’s worst maladies, conveniently organized by symptom (real or imagined), will ignite even the mildest hypochondriac’s fantasy life. We’re all going to die of something—why not choose an ailment that’s rare and hard to pronounce?"

It features: 

  • Profiles of over 300 deadly diseases
  • Organized by symptom for ease of self-diagnosis
  • At-a-glance ratings system of contagion, pain, suffering, and death
  • Fascinating spotlights on terrifying medical phenomena

Society is not doomed so long as humor survives.  This book just might save your life.

Novel Writing is Lonely

I’m working seriously on my current novel, back in the saddle after only lightly touching it for the past six months.

I write a bit, then have to check email. I write a bit, or — worse — just stare at the screen a bit, then decide I have to go read a blog or two. Or go get my hourly fix from that new SF website called (it’s crack for SF&F fans, I’m completely hooked).

Then I write a page or two, and think … wow, I’m lonely.

Sometimes I sit at Starbucks with my friend William Ledbetter, both of us whacking happily away at our laptop keyboards, each working on our various stories or projects. That, I realize, is when I’m most at ease with my writing. Writing is best done with a partner, even if you’re working on separate projects.

I remember my college days when I and a loose knit group of writing friends would all hang out at the local restaurant for hours, scribbling away with paper and pencil. Breaking every once in a while to ask a question or to read a passage. Those were the days.

And now I’ll return to writing my novel, and see how long I can go without interrupting myself like this again.