Writing: Short Stories

last updated: 3 June 2002

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I love writing short stories - I just don't enjoy finishing them. I managed to finish one in '97, and I have a number of others in varying states of completion. I have a policy of not showing people stuff I have written until it is finished to my satisfaction, or at least to a point where I am content to make it public. Hence, the only story you'll find here at the moment is Family, a piece I'm particularly proud of. If I were to nominate just one piece on this page that you should read, this would be it. Special thanks to Sheena Frost for acting as editor during the final stages of writing.

I wrestled with Family for over three years. I jotted down one of the final paragraphs first, and was fascinated by the scene I had depicted. I then thought up a scenario which could have led the character to that situation, and gradually built the story from there. Leaving character development until last is perhaps the worst way of writing a story: if you develop the characters first, you can then lead them into a particular situation a little more convincingly. There were long periods where I didn't have a clue how to fix the obvious problems I saw in it, but I think I finally got it all sorted out.

I had Family "published" at the now defunct Short Story Collective web site, where it drew some favourable reactions including one of their infrequently-bestowed "highly commended" awards. I've finally tracked down the official review and some other reader comments.

As for the stories I'm still developing, "Matt and Shell" started as a throwaway piece but has since grown into 10-20 pages of stuff - I'm not sure where it's going to end up although I am continuing to work on it. Obviously, it is unlikely it will end up as a short story. "The Pop Singer" was started last year and is almost finished but requires some tough editing. I have recently come up with a new idea for a story which will probably be the next one I'll finish. At this stage, I have some vague ideas for my key characters and I'm trying to sketch out a convincing story line for it. It's working title is "An Emotional Business".

Feedback welcome: david@gilliver.net

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