I am making strong progress on my longer piece, will probably be about as long as Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. I have to be careful about the tone of the story. I find that when I force it, it comes off as distracting to the moment described. Yet, I want the story to be fun – I am quite tired of very sad or traumatizing stories masquerading as “serious” – have something that is fun to read and the lessons (if any) will come through. Still, fun does not preclude difficulties and tragedies – and the tone must match it. I also feel that the motivations of the characters need further development – however, when placed in a strange situation, people are often unsure of themselves and I feel that should come through as well, especially considering that the characters are about 12-13 years old. Still, nearly halfway done with a fairly polished draft. Hope to have an initial, yet final, version ready before 2016.
The 100word stories are great fun. The exercise is making me better as an editor of my own work, which was a pleasant surprise. I have a little over 40 done so far onto my goal of 100. I figure I will likely need about 120 completed stories to find 100 decent ones.
I have found that whenever I am stuck on a particular story (and this is probably true in other things as well), I need to go back and change something. Sometimes that “something” is hidden from view, something that when I put it there originally, it seemed vital to the story, or at least an interesting diversion. But, if the story is not moving forward, then it pays to change or take it out. Even if it is loved. Perhaps it will fit better in another story or in another section of the same one, but if removing it leads to inspiration and momentum, then all to the good.
In terms of a story moving forward, to paraphrase Ray Bradbury in his Zen in the Art of Writing, I feel that a story is moving forward if there is joy, that it is not work/effort to write, that the words spill out of me faster than I can type and that all the ideas seem to be fighting to get from my mind to my fingertips to the screen. Those moments (unfortunately, not as commonplace as I would like) rarely need significant revision and are what make writing worthwhile. It is perhaps one of the few times my image of writing (pure inspiration, excitement, joy) actually matches the reality.