I used to think I wasn’t very good at writing short stories. Whatever I started just ended up long no matter what I’d intended, but I’ve really enjoyed writing my two 1NS – One Night Stand – stories and the few other shorts over the years. In a way, a restricted word length meant I had no choice but to conform. The difficulty that presents to a writer whose natural habitat is 100,000 word novels is not inconsiderable.
How do you make characters come alive in so few pages? How do you give them a story that’s not just sex – though sex plays a large part? Is there room to give a voice to all the players, especially in a ménage?
Well ….answers as follows.
If the characters don’t sing to the reader – I’ve failed – so I have to give them as much personality as I can and humor helps.
I write stories with proper plots as well as the sex – yes, the plot isn’t complex or all encompassing but it’s there. Even a short story has to go somewhere.
Make room for three voices if you need to. I have to know what the guys are thinking too. I don’t mind single voice stories but I prefer to hear from everyone. But if the word length is really restrictive - ie 3,000 words - best to stick to one voice. I've just written one of this length from the woman's POV only and it was a first for me!
But the one thing that makes the short story work? A lesson learned, a message given, a sweet conclusion and no – it’s not going to be a one night stand regardless of the series theme – my characters are just starting their journey together whether it was 3,000 words or 100,000. I’ve just given them a push.