With a twist (of lemon)

I am exceedingly pleased that people seem to have enjoyed “Resurrection Men”. It’s the first proper short story that I’ve written in the longest time. I’m not sure that short stories are something I am particularly good at; they’re difficult things to do well. They need their twists. One of my underlying writer anxieties – don’t pretend you don’t have any, I know you do! – is the fear that I’m not clever enough to write a good short story, with a twist and everything. I have trouble working out where to end them. They keep going on and turning into novels, or they end too soon and aren’t really anything.

I am not helped by many of my ideas, which tend to be scenes or feelings more than they’re in any way related to plots. It’s fine to write a scene, but then you have to write another scene. With novels, plots are just a thing that happens. They develop by themselves, over time. With short stories, you don’t really have the space to let things happen for themselves. You can’t just let things play out and see where it takes you.

Like anything, I suppose it takes practice. Perhaps the more short stories I write, the more ideas I’ll get. Happily, I’ve no shortage of notebooks, should an idea hit me at an unhelpful moment. I sometimes imagine what other people think at these times, when a madness appears in my eyes and I halt a conversation to go digging for a notebook and scribble something down. But if you don’t, well, that idea may be gone forever. I have learnt this to my cost.

Grim’s new story develops slowly. Other ideas that I’ve had in the past, that never fit anything I was doing at the time, are resurfacing and making themselves known. I am trying to be patient, and let it come together, and work on other things in the meantime. I have a prose piece I found in a writing exercises notebook the other day that I’d like to work on, in particular. There’s no end of things to be done.

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