What Do You Do When The Story Sneaks Up On You?

The way I write novels is heavy on the planning.  The way I write short stories is not.  It’s one of the reasons why my efforts on novels always turn out better.  Simply put, they make sense.  It takes a lot of work to make a short story make sense, and if I think about them too much they tend to grow.  Before you know it I’m back to having a novel idea on my hands instead of a short story.

This can be good, but it also means short stories are something I struggle with.  Over the weekend I woke up with a short story burning through my fingers.  I sat down to type and came away with ten double-spaced pages of story and still hadn’t reached the end—or even figured out what the ending might be.  Nor was I surprised to discover that by page ten what I’d written for page one didn’t hold any more.

I have no idea where this story is going or even it’s going anywhere.  I suspect I’ll finish it, just because it keeps coming up when I’m trying to work.  I’ll just let it play out and see if I have anything worth fixing by the time it’s done.

Do you experience these stories that just demand to be told?  What do you do when they strike?  What do you do with the pile of pages you didn’t intend to have on your hands?

About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces ComeSootheYourAchingSoul.com in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of www.StephanieAllenCrist.com and two books that can be found on that site. Stephanie strives to share her love, faith, and talents in an inclusive manner to help others who know spiritual pain and who know the bitter taste of the dregs of despair.
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4 Responses to What Do You Do When The Story Sneaks Up On You?

  1. acflory says:

    -giggles- this is how I write all the time! Don’t be scared. This story is coming from the subconscious so like a dream, it may not be linear but those bits at the beginning will probably fit perfectly somewhere else. But first you have to tell the story to /yourself/. You have to know all the ins and outs but once you’re done the writer can take over to decide how to tell the story to someone else.

    It’s a painstaking process that requires lots of restructuring and lots of editing but I’ve decided that it’s worth the extra effort because I enjoy the creative process so much more.

    • I’ve done this before. Actually, I’ve written quite a few stories like this. It’s not so much fear as annoyance; I don’t really have time to add yet another project to my to do list. But, when the muse speaks…

      Anyway, it’s not a lack of linearity, but more a change in character qualities. When I start a story like this, neither characters nor plot (not to mention theme and structure) are at all clear. The words just come and I just write them down. Making sense of them later takes a lot of work. I tend to prefer when the story comes to me and I have figure out how to tell it.

      But thank you for the encouragement. Now we just have to see if I can find the time!

      • acflory says:

        -grin- You have to do this because you know you /want/ to do it 😀

        Once it’s out of your system you can let it sit quietly until some future date at which you can do the pick and shovel work. Just get the story out for now.

  2. lol I haven’t felt the urge to go back…perhaps my mind is too busy with other things.

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