Thursday, February 18, 2016

Short Story Outlining

Most of us outline the novels we write.  After all, it's hard to come up with idea after idea on the fly, so we need a spur of some kind to remember the general storyline.  But does that apply to short stories too?

You bet your ass it does.

I've got about ten short stories prepared for a short story collection that will come out in a few years, and I plan to write another 15-20 following the completion of my current book.  That's not to say I've only written ten short stories, though, for much of what I've written was pure garbage.  What I've found from those stories that stunk was that I tried writing them on the fly, and they floundered as a result.

I've learned that I need to outline...everything.  Short stories may seem less intimidating or in need of detailed thought than a novel, but that's absolutely not the case.  They're stand alone stories that deserve as much attention as you give any other piece of your writing.  The solace you can take is that you won't be outlining for as long, but try to pump out a short story without a reference, and you'll find yourself in the wilderness.

Sometimes our outlines are short since we know what we want to write and only need a guide to get us there.  Other times we have a set piece of dialogue or action that we envision being specifically followed, so we need to put more on paper before we write.  Whatever the case, we still need to outline, and a short story is no different.

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