Now Playing: FLAWED LEGACY by Michael Salvatori and Martin O'Donnell
One way I know a story has a lot of potential is when it comes really hard for me.
I think Stephen King said that writing is best when it's a kind of inspired play. Well, the story I wrote for June (mostly that is--I just finished it tonight and we're a week into July . . . ) was all play until the time came to sit down and write it.
I had it all thought out: girl in trouble, girl figures way out of trouble, girl realizes her plan wasn't so foolproof after all and must deal with the consequences. I wanted it to be a longer tale, because I plan on subbing it to the Writers of the Future Contest, and in my experience the winners are longer stories. But I didn't expect the challenge this kind of length entailed.
It's difficult to keep momentum when the story is 12,000 words. You write a novel, you think, "I just have to do this sip by sip, and eventually I'll have downed the whole drink." In other words--one to two thousand words a day, and in two or three months you've got a novel. But a short story, for me anyway, usually starts with a different mindset: "Let's pound out a story, scratch it off the 'to-be-written' list, and move on to the next one."
June's story is titled "Frost and Flame." It refused to let itself be pounded out and set aside, to be crossed off as average stories are. It reached for greater depths, fished for more developed characters, and wouldn't let itself be neatly tied off, as I think I'm prone to doing (an amateur trait, I've come to think more and more). These are all good things, as they raise the bar for my quality; I can honestly say now that I've had a story idea that can hold its own against professionally published pieces I've read.
It's a bit like working out, maybe. Once you run two miles every day for a month, two miles isn't a workout anymore. You have stretch it to four or five. True, two miles is still something, and you should be proud of that. But you aren't here for a stroll--you're here to work out. So stretch it to four or five miles and be proud of how shaky your quads feel.
That's the way I feel after finishing "Frost and Flame." Like I just maybe ran a bit farther than I could comfortably handle, but here I am, and now I can't go back and run a two mile course because I know that's beneath my ability. That's wanting to stay comfortable, but working out isn't about being comfortable. Neither is writing--the good stories, the ones that tell you they want to go somewhere, leave you aching all over once you type "The End."