On Starting a New Short Story

This week I began writing a new short story.

A friend e-mailed me (and several other writers) about an anthology he wanted to put together, and would I be interested in contributing? If I were, I’d have to write the story reallydamnfast.

I wasn’t sure that I had a story, but sometimes the best way to find a story is to not go looking for it. As my workday wore on, I jotted down whatever ideas came to me on a notepad on my desk, and when I went for a walk on my lunchbreak the gears started snapping together.

I wrote up quickly a rough pitch that was part outline, part description of the thematic ground I wanted to capture, part description of the story’s two major characters.

Yesterday I started writing. First was a page of the story’s narrator talking about the story’s main character. Then came two pages of the narrator describing his own backstory. This morning I wrote out a page that described how certain things work in the story’s milieu. This evening on the train I wrote two pages of conversation between the two characters.

Some of this writing may survive. Some of it may not. Right now I’m trying to get the voices right. I’m trying to figure out the headspace for this story.

Tonight I’m going to work on an outline. Even though I can “see” the story beats in my head, I’d like to have them down on paper simply so I have a roadmap.

And then, I’ll hammer the story out. I want to have it done by July 4th, which is right around the corner. Fast turnaround doesn’t scare me; it’s what I do.

I won’t say much at the moment, except that this story is different. Different in the sense that it’s surprisingly normal. :h2g2:

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