Technically I am in week 41 of the 2YN course. That’s smack dab in the middle of the “writing” section. I am writing. I am writing a novel, I’m just not writing the selkie novel I started the course with. Oops.
April-October Flash Fiction: Uh…
After Celebration my monthly flash fiction goal has gone right out of the window for two big reasons.
I don’t have the time (or skill) to work on multiple projects simultaneously (when dictating and driving).
So here I was, moving along at a good clip with the Selkie novel (using the 2YNovel method), when I realized I was falling behind on my other projects. As long as I have a plan for my commute dictation session I have good output; I can reliably dictate at least twice the words* in the same amount of time compared to typing, even when taking into account the dead air. Nevertheless, I was finding that while dictating on a commute does work for me, I am not (at this time) able to effectively juggle multiple projects. This was evident in the amount of time I was spending wrestling with “simple” 500 word flash fiction stories.
Flash fiction and short fiction are hard.
The techniques from the Flash Fiction course are sound but I’ve learned that I have a difficult time trying to condense any fiction into a tiny space. As the Genie from Aladdin said, “Phenomenal cosmic power! Itty bitty living space.” Plotting the flash fiction was like trying to wrestle a live octopus into a mesh sack– there were arms slithering out everywhere. Eventually I decided that the Flash Fiction was eating into an uncomfortable amount of my actual novel-writing time and I was falling behind. So, I set them aside.
The Short Story, SNAFU, is another matter. Since I am actually writing it as a prologue for an RPG I’ll be participating in later this year and it’s important for me to get that done. But it was also eating into my novel time. So, I decided to crank out the short story just to get it out of the way so I could focus fully on the novel.
Yeah. I was just going to “crank” that one out. Piece of cake. It was only 10k words. I would whip up an outline and if I could dictate 1000 words of prose each work-day I’d be done in two weeks. I could be done faster if I used both morning and afternoon sessions.
Even though I have a degree in English literature and have written a ton of research and analysis papers, outlining has never been my strong suit. I need the practice because I logically know that fixing a broken story in outline form is a lot easier than fixing a broken, complete story. So I wrestled with that outline and used it to practice a variety of outlining and plotting techniques I have in my writer’s toolkit.
Trying to apply novel plotting techniques to flash or short fiction results in novels.
By the time I started writing SNAFU, I was a month behind in the writing phase of the 2YN course and hadn’t even started outlining the Selkie novel. It wasn’t long before I realized that, instead of a 10k word short story, I was looking at what might be a 50k word novella but is more likely a 90k word novel.
At least I’m not trying to stuff an octopus in a sack anymore, I suppose.
If I’m not writing the selkie novel, then what does my progress look like?
*Twice the content. The words might be crappy, but I find it’s worth the tradeoff. I can turn a bunch of awkward simple sentences into a couple great sentences easier and faster than I can craft a great sentence on the fly.