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?