Now that my house is on the market and everything is in limbo, I have nothing but time on my hands. Which can only mean one thing. Plenty of time to write.
I’ve finished “Dolly” and have begun submitting to agents. With a potential move in my future, I’m not comfortable diving into the depths of “The Weight She Carries”. So, I’ve returned to short stories. At first, it was a struggle. Every short grew too big, but I’ve settled in and am going full force. Did I mention that I’m having the time of my life?
Short story composition is a different mindset than novels. It’s more than just a story told with fewer words. It is an art of concision. Every detail mentioned needs to have a place. A point, if you will. Waste not one word. In the story I’m working on, currently untitled, I mentioned a carved wood table in description and then kicked myself for adding a pointless detail. Ah, but it never works that way and the simple mention has become a major theme. To misquote Hannibal in “The A-Team”, “I love it when a story comes together.”
While working on this new story, I’ve found a tool that I heavily rely on in all my writing, novel or short. Flashbacks. Shall I hide my head in shame now or may I explain myself?
I love flashbacks and find that most of my works are told through flashbacks, starting at the action and revealing what brought the character to that point. I call it “The Onion Effect” in which stories are layers peeled back with flashbacks to create an understanding of what makes reality.
Trust me, I’ve read every article that explains why flashbacks, overused or at all, are bad tools and should be used sparingly because they are tedious to read. I’ve tried hard to write a straight story, taking a character from Point A to Point B. It’s an unnatural style for me because so much understanding is left out.
To show a woman on a date with a seedy man who winks and smiles and makes stupid jokes. A man who is balding and beer bellied who grabs her knee and squeezes. A man she isn’t attracted too…yet takes home for the night, doesn’t make sense. Not unless the reader understands her insecurity since the divorce. The lingering words her ex left to nag in the back of her mind. The way her jeans are pinching at the waist because they are too small. The lack of money in her checking account for a new pair because her minimum wage job doesn’t allow her the luxury. The minimum wage job because she never had a job. Because she married out of high school. Because she had her first child at 18.
All the thoughts of the past that influence her choices of the future. Peeling back the layers to find the core of the one night stand she was about to have because she wanted one night away from it all.
Will this be detrimental to my success in the end? I guess only time will tell.
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” ~Dalai Lama XIV