On Discovery Writing

Hello friends!

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a plotter, and I’m convinced this is the right way to approach novels.

But short stories are an entirely different beast.

When I write a short story, I typically start with an image or a line, and I write from there (or towards there). I don’t outline; I just sit down and write.

I’ve done several short stories this way. Three years ago, I had the image of two women and a girl in a car, driving through the desert and running from something, so I wrote about what they were running from and towards. I wrote and discovered why they had to run.

Another short began with wanting to do a study on setting, and I chose an abandoned mall. I made it the focus of the piece and the backdrop, and I hoped to imbue the setting with a richness I too often forget in my work.

Most recently, a first line popped into my head: “They were shipwrecked on the front lawn. This hadn’t been the plan, of course.” I jotted this down in my phone and let it stew. It sounded like it had to be about children, and I don’t often write about children. But what would happen from the shipwreck? How would children resolve the problems that arose from such a situation?

And that’s how I accidentally wrote a short story on Thursday. It has a more carefree and whimsical feel than most of my work, which is a nice break. It’s also a more omniscient point of view than I like to use, which was a fun challenge. I went in with a line and discovered the story as I wrote, coming up with motivations and character qualities that suited my needs. 

Of course, I’ll need to go back through and do some edits to smooth out the beginning now that I understand the end, but that’s for later. It was simply fun to take a couple of hours and play.

Because if writing doesn’t let you play and have fun, then why do it?

What I wrote this week: “Shipwreck;” “Gabi, Filled with Wonder;” “Alice Gets an Upgrade.”

What I read this week: American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell; The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi; The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi.

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