Monday, August 29, 2022

Open Book Blog Hop: Writing Short Stories


Welcome to Monday! I'm trying something new this week: the Open Book Blog Hop. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. This week, we're talking about short stories: 

Do you ever write short stories? What do you see as the biggest difference in the writing process between a short story and a full-length book?

Though my primary work is novels, The Menopausal Superhero series and some other as-yet-unfinished and unpublished works, I also LOVE writing short stories. 

Novels are not small endeavors. I'm a writer with a day job, stuffing my writing life into a couple of hours a day most of the time, so drafting a novel is the work of a year or more for me. Writing a series of novels means living in the same imaginary universe for multiple years. I've been writing my Menopausal Superheroes since 2014. 

Even though writing is always a labor of love for me, staying on track and meeting publishing deadlines for my novels can start to feel more like work than play. 

When I need a break from the current novel, I cheat on her with short stories. 

Short stories give me an opportunity to try on something new without the same level of commitment that a novel requires. I can explore new characters, new worlds, new situations. I can play around in new genre sandboxes. I can finish a draft of a short story quickly, sometimes in only one or two writing sessions. That feeling of finishing things is addictive. 

For me, short fiction is all about play. They are key for keeping me connected to the joy of a writing life, even when it feels like my novel is trying to kill me. It's my chance to say, "I've never tried that! Let's go!" 

Interestingly, a lot of my short fiction comes out dark. 

It's quite a contrast, because my novel series is light, dramedy in tone, intermixing comedic elements with action, with a heavy focus on women's friendship. 

I think it's because I'm usually writing short fiction when I'm feeling frustrated with longer fiction, so I walk into it in a darker mood. Plus, honestly, I just have a taste for the creepy. 

My first loves as a child were Grimm's fairy tales and Tanakh, as recounted for me by my mother and grandmothers, who didn't pull any punches about the scary bits. No Disney-fication for little Samantha. I tell people that I might look more like Laura Ingalls Wilder, but inside? It's all Wednesday Addams. 

My most recent publication is a horror story. "How Does Your Garden Grow?" is featured in A Woman Unbecoming, a new charity anthology in support of reproductive rights from Crone Girls Press. 

If you like horror, or are just horrified by the most recent attacks on women's health and rights in the United States, I hope you'll check it out.

And after you do, please check out the posts from my fine colleagues below: 

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  1. Hi Samantha, I enjoyed your blog post. I could have written this one because I have the same ideas about short story writing. I usually create the short story to take a break from a writing project or in-between writing books. I seem to be in the in-between period at the moment with no end in sight for a beginning of a new project. I too write short stories that are frightening or deadly, full of tension and twists. I guess it helps release all the frustration garnered from the longer stories or projects. I often do not want to share some of the stories because I am definitely not the same person on the outside as I am on the inside during my short story splurges. Wishing you all the best with your projects! and with working through menopause!!!

    1. Thanks so much! Maybe we are twins under the skin.

  2. Because I get a lot of ideas, I write a short story as a palate cleanser when I get blocked on longer works. Trouble is, they tend to have a life of their own and before I know it, they've developed into longer works.

    1. I love thinking of them as palate cleansers :-) Some of mine have sprawled larger than I first envisioned, too.

  3. I actually laughed out loud at this - When I need a break from the current novel, I cheat on her with short stories.

  4. With short stories it's easier to chop and change genres so that I don't get bored with the slog of writing a full novel.

    1. Definitely! There's something to be said for taking on a size you can complete in a shorter timeframe.

    2. I've always worked on the premise that if I get bored writing a novel I've got the story wrong and I need to go back and figure out where I went off-track.