Thursday, September 10, 2015

Where Short Stories Come From

Ever since my first (failed) attempt at marketing my my first novel I have tried a few other times to drum up "buzz" for my work with near-zero success. Is it because my novel was terrible? Absolutely not. I put a lot of time and effort into creating a story I loved to read, so I know there are hundreds of others who would also love my book. But you wouldn't know it by the scant reviews and bottom-of-the-barrel ranking on Amazon. So what's wrong?
So many stories to choose from

I have read more books on marketing than I would care to list, and each one tells me something different about what I could have done better. But no matter what the experts say, patience, perseverance, and purpose are not enough. In an online world infused with millions of different kinds of content that bombard us every day, my novel is just one story trying to be heard among the multitude of other stories vying for your attention.

And that set me to thinking - what if I had a bunch of shorter stories to share with readers, stories that would only take up a few minutes of their time but be entertaining enough to make readers want to try out my longer works? So I got super excited and started thinking about all the stories I could tell. Until I realized every story plot I came up with would morph into something that would take more than a few minutes to read through. As good a writer as I believed myself to be, I was not good enough to tell a short story.

I tired writing prompts, I tried poetry, I tried photo prompts, I even tried to write a 100-word story to submit to an online literary magazine. None of it was working. I couldn't get a story to fit within two 8.5x11 pages. And then one day I browsed through Facebook. A friend of mine would put funny little quotes her son would say on an e-card and post them to her page, which would make their way onto my feed. I had threatened in the past to use her great quotes in a story, but never got around to it. But on this particular day she posted a quote that inspired a humorous story about the power of imagination and friendship.

It took me a couple of weeks of on-and-off writing and editing, but I managed to get the story under 800 words. I had my own son read it and give me feedback before I finally published it on Wattpad. I've discovered that I can write stories that are both short and entertaining, and my inspiration comes from the everyday lives of people. So now I would like to ask you, my readers, to help me find inspiration for more short stories that I can share with you. If you hear a funny or odd quote, or see a picture of something interesting, message me on my Facebook account, tweet your inspiration to my Twitter handle, or just post it here in the comments section.

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