Learning from a short-short story

short story
Free-Photos / Pixabay

Several months ago, I found a short-short story contest. The story had to be 1500 words or fewer. Entering  it was an opportunity to take a break from editing my two first drafts and write something new.

What to write?

I have confessed in an earlier post my jealousy for writers with great imagination. Suffering from the shortage, I was on the verge of skipping this contest.

Frustrated I lacked a topic; I went back to editing one of the first drafts. When I cut, if the amount exceeds a paragraph, I add the material to the end of the draft. It was here I found the idea for my short-short story.

How difficult could it be?

Owning an idea, time to turn it into a story. As with my novel drafts, I didn’t create a detailed outline. I wrote the first draft from introducing the cast to finale unconcerned for word count. The result was a 5000-word draft, exceeding the word count allowed by the contest.

Lessons learned

Editing the story to send to the contest was a trip as my grandson would say.

The first cut was to remove extraneous location description. I started the story with the protagonist entering the town. Instead, I placed her near her destination which eliminated hundreds of words.

Next, I revised the destinations description to add character to the building. In doing so, I could show elements of the antagonist’s personality. This saved more words later.

Reordering events eliminated more words and tightened the story.

Rewriting the conversation between the three cast members increased the conflict while losing words.

Now the word count was under 1500.

Beta Readers

Three friends read the story and each provided thoughts for improvement. Some of their comments made it into the submission; others didn’t.

The wait

Khamkhor / Pixabay

The story is with the judges. Is it good enough to win, likely not? But I would be ecstatic to place.

I am considering posting the story once the contest is over. Would like to read it? Let me know.


    • Dwane

      Sorry to be so long replying. I appreciate your interest in reading the story. I can’t post until after they declare winners. So, it may be early March before I can provide it. You will be the first writer outside of the judges to read it. As my grandkids would say, “Be gentle! or Not.”

      I really would like a critique if you have the time after reading it.

      Two weeks today, I will be retired… or unemployed depending on point of view! I say retired, my wife says unemployed!! 🙂

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