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Short Stories as Sketches

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So I’m working on my next short story using the bit I wrote from my Voice Exercises. Things were going pretty well until I realized that what I was writing wasn’t really a short story at all.  It was turning into something bigger than that. It is rather funny how that happens sometimes.  You set out with one intention and get something completely different. What before was just going to be a quick dive into a fun cyberpunk theme morphed into a creature that demanded more information and fleshing out.

While that is all well and good, I also realized it wasn’t something I was ready or wanted to do yet.  The questions that the longer story was asking for weren’t going to be answered just yet.  I still needed that short story (or several) to be able to develop the world in a more free form fashion.

Having come from a world of drawn art, I see short stories as my character sketches.  Here I allow myself to make mistakes and explore without hesitation to make very grande concepts. Pushing things to their limits to see what works and what doesn’t. It may be odd to some people, to think of it that way, but why not give it a try. Get into the mindset that your short story is just a character sketch.  It might not be anything you show anyone. It may end up being the thing that defines your whole novel. But always keep in mind that its allowed to be as big and over the top as you want.

Some of you may argue, “Why not just do that within your novel.  Go big! You can always bring it down later.”  I can see the validity there. But imagine for a second that the shorts also allow you a chance to build life experiences for that character. Not only are you finding their size, shape, and attitude; but you’re developing their background.  Just like real life, your actions are defined by your past. And here you are, building a past for that character and really getting to understand them.

Chew on it.  You may find that you like the taste.


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