Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

I’m a member of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop.  What is it?  A chance for authors at any stage in their career to connect by providing helpful posts related to all things writing.  The Hop occurs once a month, with the exception of November and December.  My second post for The Hop is on the short story.  So read on…

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

Being a new author, I don’t have a big backlist.  My first book, Blessed, was published in July 2018.  Two more followed.  Other authors told me to try the short story.  Even my publisher, eXtasy Books, encouraged me to submit for their holiday shorts.  I didn’t think I was capable of writing short.

The short storyFor me, writing short was a great mystery I admired from afar.  “How do they do it,” I’d wonder.  So I gave it a try, and lo and behold, my two short stories were accepted.  How did I manage to pull off this feat?  A person who’s used to writing 90k to 100k novels?  And in a series?

It wasn’t easy.  First, creative me kept wanting to expand the stories, haha.  I wanted to turn them into a mini-series of more short stories!  But I stopped myself.

I simply started by laying out the GMC for my characters.  Who were they?  What did they want?  What was stopping them from getting what they wanted?  Just like I do with series and novels.

I also used the same method with my tagline and blurb.

Voila.  I had a base for a short story (I’m a planster btw, part panster and part planner).  Since I write stories set in Canada, I used creativity to get my heroine to the USA for American Thanksgiving.  I live on the boundary waters, so my heroine came from the same place.  Toss in a truck breaking down at the casino where the hero works as a security guard, and the plot was set.

It was simply a matter of using my imagination.  My imagination doesn’t stop spinning stories (this started way back with Ken and Barbie).

What did I learn from writing the short story?  It doesn’t take as long to write and self-edit.  It doesn’t take as long either to edit with my publisher.  The process is so much quicker, and I enjoyed this very much.  No eye strain from the computer by going over every word because I was around 10k for each story.  The editing process went smoothly and fast.  Even when I revised the one story to fall more within the parameters of my publisher’s guidelines, I wasn’t hemming and hawing.  I had my revision done within the day.

I couldn’t believe me, a person who’d always been leery of writing short, could write short.

The short story 2

Now I’ll have two short stories set for publication for the holiday season:  Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I will confess I took a short story workshop a few years ago.  And this was a big help while drafting.  I kept focussed on the two main characters and the plot.  No sub-plots.  No secondary characters.  Just the bare bones to stay within my word count.  And I have this great love for letting my characters internally mull, something my crit partner always gets after me about.  He’s constantly whacking my fingers, telling me to stop it and use body language, etc., to show how the characters are feeling.  He was a big help by training me to write tight, because I can get pretty wordy—this blog post is a great example of my wordiness, haha.

I’m far from an expert on mastering the short story.  There are others who could provide a much better blog post, but I simply wanted to share my experience and what worked for me.  Thanks for reading.

28 thoughts on “The Short Story – #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

  1. Ronel Janse van Vuuren says:

    Writing short stories are fun — and the rush can get addictive! Now you are one of us…

    Ronel catching up for Oct Author Toolbox day The Pros and Cons of Starting a Company as a Self-Pub Author

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ronel. Yes, short stories are a lot of fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Adam says:

    I also find that I am often more drawn to the novel sized story, but one of my earlier instructors told me that some things are learned through the experience of completing something, regardless of size or scope, and therefore I would be well served by writing several short stories to learn those aspects more quickly. And I think, at least speaking for myself, that writing short stories helps one sharpen the perception of how, even as a novel functions as such a large story, it is also a series of smaller stories (in the form of scenes, chapters, and arcs) that all have threads connecting them to each other, but also have a certain amount of “self contained” thread that creates a sense of border and completion around them.
    I think that layered/nested series of smaller and larger units is one of the trickier aspects of storytelling in general. I think I so often focus on the big picture plot that I lose sight of the smaller borders that create a very gentle sense of “ending” and “beginning”.
    On an unrelated note, congratulations on your recent publications.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, Adam. I really enjoyed reading your take on the short story!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know why, but I’m so intimidated by short stories. I haven’t even attempted one because I know I’m going to want to expand and sub-plot and turn it into a whole novel. I want to try my hand at them one day, and I’m bookmarking this page for when I do! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you, Brigitte. It was sooo tough not expanding on the short stories and turning them into novels–or a mini or short stories series. I’m glad you found the post helpful!

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  4. S.E. White says:

    How cool! That’s awesome they flowed so well for you. Sometimes trying out a new thing can be a great choice 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was lots of fun. Now I’m writing another short story while waiting on the return of edits from my publisher!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Erika Beebe says:

    I love writing short stories too. They really help explore characters and plots in a way, novels can’t. Happy Hop Day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s awesome to find another who loves short stories.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s really not easy trying a new genre, but kudos for the courage! Do you think any of the things you’ve learned in short story writing will influence your novels? I’m curious about how the two mesh together.

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    1. I’m wondering the same thing, Jimmy. I’ll be starting a standalone in about three weeks. I just realised I might be in time for NaNo to start this novel. I’ll keep you in the loop on how it goes!

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  7. That was really helpful. I find short stories a literary bridge to far for me. I can now see why they work for so many.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad it was helpful. Thanks for stopping by, Jacqui!

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  8. Meka James says:

    You sound like me with writing shorts. My novels are long, detailed, probably too wordy so last year I challenged myself to do the same. The first one I sorta failed at. My novella ended up being 55k or so, but that was still shorter than my other books. Then I wrote another with a specific publisher in mind. The line had a cap of 25k for the words. I came in under. I was shocked! Writing short can be fun, and poses it’s own set of challenges. But good to try every once in a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear you were successful, Meka. Way to go and thanks for sharing your journey with me on short story writing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love short stories, although mine are more like flash fiction since they’re really short 🙂 I think I’d struggle with 10k words because I love subplots! Congrats on finishing two short stories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, flash fiction. Go you! I have a writer friend who writes drabbles and flash fiction. I have no idea how she does it. I admire writers like you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks 🙂 It took a lot of practice for me, but the more I wrote the shorter my stories got!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m working on a short story as a lead gen but haven’t gotten far with it besides making a document. I’m a bit afraid of it all. Your advice is good, though – no subplots!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can do it, D.E.! Maybe you can do a post about it at your blog for the hop come January. I’d love to see how you did!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, the pressure is on to finish before January now 😉

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  11. You’ve written and published all that since 2018! O. M. G. You’re a rock star, Maggie. I was also afraid of the short story. Still am. I enjoy flash fiction, but even that scares me. Have you done any flash pieces yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and one more I didn’t mention. I am in edits for a 92k novel with my publisher. It was a busy writing year LOL! As for flash pieces, I think that is reaching beyond my capability. I am in awe of people who writer flash fiction.

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  12. Congratulations! I never even thought about writing a short. Now you’ve given me something to think about! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Give it a try, Carmen. I”d love to read at your blog on how you did with the short story!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re on!! I have been thinking about it. Woohoo! I’m so excited! Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

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