Fat Mogul vs. The Short Story

click the link to find where this image came from (source: questionably from this English class's page on short stories)
click the link to find where this image came from (source: questionably from this English class’s page on short stories)

Hey, did I tell you that I’ve been working on a short story?

I am…well…I was.

You see, I’ve got a love/hate relationship with them.  I think there’s a great place for them, a situation where brevity in storytelling could really be useful, as I don’t think that novels are going to be as relevant in the future (well, they’re already not so relevant, but quit bursting my bubble, okay?).  I mean, people are busy, why spent your nights, many nights, reading through some book that you may or may not enjoy when you can just load up a new television series on Netflix and get several stories completed within that same amount of time, perhaps even a full series worth?

But short stories are different.  If done well, you can have your full story in 30 minutes or less and come out feeling somehow changed….maybe.  Most of the time this isn’t the case.  I do enjoy me some challenging writing that attempts to capture a moment or a theme, but I think in order for reading to continue, short stories need to actually be short stories, not short literary experiments.

So….I’ve been kicking around a few thoughts over the years on how to do this, determining what kind of stories would be worth the written word that would meet the standard expectation of storytelling.  And…I came up with one.  A lovely little tale of zombies and fatherhood…something simple that would be driven forward by the simple emotions of fear and love.  I had it all planned out, knew the points along the way that this story would take to get it to its 8,000 word goal, which would, in my approximation, meet the 30 minute reading mark….

Then the story got away from me.  I’m at double that word count…and nowhere near the end.

Now, I’m not one to shy away from letting a story be told the way it needs to be told; and I’m also aware that there’s a great deal of cutting that will occur once this story goes into the editing process…but I had plans.  I had a want for this to be a short story so I could actually, well, you know, defeat the short story.  Heck, 8,000 words is long for a short story nowadays.  This was also going to be part of a brand development, allowing me to place my work out in other locations that novels can’t quite reach to help more people become aware of who I am (and how awesome of a writer I am).

But I failed myself…

And the worst part about it is…it’s actually pretty darn good.  I mean, I haven’t done a re-read yet (as I typically wait to finish the story before doing a full re-read), but in the development of these extra bits that have joined the cause along the way, I’ve found some really amazing stuff coming in.  In fact, just yesterday a new plot device got added that could actually define an entire series of zombie novels…a plot device that I’m not sure I can actually explore any further in this story.

But that’s how things got away from me in the first place.  All too often stories of zombie-hood can make the world feel completely empty…that’s usually the point of them.  I wanted to show a world where there are plenty of people striving to survive in this same world through their own means, things that would be seen by my protagonist, but not any more dedication done to them…and now I’m realizing that not only do I have at least a novella on my hands…but I’ve got an entire grouping of stories I want to tell…one of which would actually explore the real background of this zombie threat in a way I haven’t seen before.

So…in other words…in my attempt to write a relatively long, standalone, short story…I’ve come across yet another series of stories I wish to tell…mostly because of how much fun it really is to write about a world filled with zombies, but also because of all these little guest characters I’ve created that have a full backstory in my mind, but do very little more than exist for a paragraph or two on the page.

Grrr….

Someday I’ll figure out the short story…for now, I guess I’ll just have to stick to writing whatever random things come to me.

Not that I’m whining.  There are many worse things for a writer to deal with than an overabundance of ideas of what to write about.

Alright…I’m out.  Have fun out there!

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