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A photo of a book, The Art of the Short Story, on top of a planner with pens.

Because nothing says “Monday Morning” like a trite saying about planning, right? Trite maybe, but there is a simplicity about it. I spent many years making elaborate plans not to actually do anything about them, mostly because the act of planning was so satisfying, why did I need to? But I have been ruminating on my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and while it is something I can measure (2,021 hours of creative work in 2021), it’s *gasp* more of a system than a goal. It’s a way to get me to my real goal – to get really good at writing short stories.

I have close to twenty novel first drafts, but the idea of rewriting/editing those 75,000 – 140,000 word pieces is pretty damn intimidating. (Especially the 140,000, which really should be broken into a trilogy and have the rest of the story that was edited out put back in.)

Every prolific writer that I admire writes short stories. Lots and lots of them, at least that is how they began, because it’s easier to revise and edit a 5,000 word piece than a huge honking novel. So that is what I need to do, to learn revising with stories. To get really good at them. (Pie in the sky, to get a story in Best American Short Stories in ten years.)

So writing the story I posted yesterday showed me my bad noveling habits. It’s right at 3500 words, and two main characters. Well, folks, I edited out a full main character. Actually, I edited out two. My novel drafts all feature casts of thousands, and it’s hard to make a cast of thousands all people that potential readers want to root for. Short stories, hopefully, will help me learn less is more. And those characters that I have to cut out can have their very own story next week, right?

Well, probably not this week. I am using prompts from https://diymfa.com/writer-igniter so since this week’s prompt is A Fashionista – Becomes Famous Overnight – prop – a guitar pick – setting – an old Catholic Church, it will be interesting how I can squeeze Arthur, a master Time Ranger, and Turk, a black market seller of time travel products, into that prompt.

Last week, I ended up editing until about 4:04pm on Sunday. Since my self imposed posting deadline is Sunday at 4:00pm (CST), this did not bode well. But I really didn’t get going on the story until Wednesday afternoon, so there was a bug in the system. This week, I will start with free-writing about the prompt in the time I have left this morning and this evening and hopefully will be able to start getting the story itself down Tuesday morning. That should leave me plenty of time to revise, edit, and cut out six or seven characters, right?

This week, along with reading a short story everyday (advice of Ray Bradbury) I am doing a deep study into the first story in The Art of the Short Story. (no, I’m not an affiliate.) The first story is by Chinua Achebe, and it’s called Dead Man’s Path. I have read it before, in fact have read most of the stories in this book since I got it in 2018, but I am going to take notes and figure out why the thing works.

Anything to suck less at this, right?