So, This is What Happens When I Try to Write a Short Story

Yeah, there’s not much I can elaborate on for this post. The title explains pretty much everything. But, I guess I’ll try. I think I wrote this one day in class when I was bored and just happened to be working on a laptop. An idea had popped into my head, however I didn’t have enough of an idea to make a full book out of, so I tried to put bits and pieces of it into a short story.

You should be warned, though: I have been told (many, many times) that my short stories in themselves are more like excerpts of a larger novel and they don’t have much of an ending, leaving people hanging. Like I mentioned in my previous post, short stories are hard, and this is what usually happens.

Here we go.

 

Storm winced visibly as the liquid scrambled over the wound on her leg, layering over it to try and heal the cut the best it could. It was a golden colour, and it glowed slightly. Storm leaned her forehead against her knee, sighing as she sat in the dark room.

She thought she was alone.

A small gasp reached Storm’s ears, causing her to look up. There stood a little girl. She was no older than six or seven, with a ponytail and currently wide, frightened eyes. She gave a high pitched scream and turned on her heel to run back out the door.

Storm cursed softly under her breath and stretched out her hand towards the girl. The golden liquid sent some of itself up her leg and across her arm, then it jumped from her wrist and went flying. The substance shot across the room like an arrow and slammed the door shut.

“You’re-you’re one of those,” the little girl whispered, backing away. “You’re an alien!”

“I’m not,” Storm said.

“Are too!” the girl squealed. “You have that… that…”

“Kyronix?” Storm suggested helpfully, holding up her arm again to show the golden substance, which was now coiled around it like a spring.

“Yeah! That!” the girl agreed, still looking for a way to get out.

“It doesn’t make me an alien.” Storm slowly approached the girl, like one would a wounded animal. She wanted to make herself look as less like a threat (or an alien) as possible, so she let the Kyronix run up her sleeve and out of sight on her back. She also rolled down her right pant leg of her jeans to cover her wound.

Storm crouched down once she was near the girl. “How much do you know about Kyronixens?”

“Not much,” the little girl mumbled. Storm noticed that she had a small sparkly purse clutched in her hand, with the name Emily stitched across it. “Only that they get their magic from the aliens.”

There she went again with the aliens. Storm let out a tiny groan.

“That is completely wrong,” she said with a shake of her head. “Kyronix is a substance from space, granted, but it wasn’t sent by any aliens. Each piece of Kyronix has a symbiotic relationship with its user.”

“Sim-bee-oric?” Emily said slowly, looking up at Storm in confusion.

“Never mind.” Storm leaned back on her haunches. “Just, please don’t tell anyone about this. It could put me in serious danger.”

Emily hesitated.

“I’m not going to hurt anyone,” Storm assured her. Slowly, Emily nodded.

“Okay… I won’t. I promise.” A pause. “Can I see it?”

Storm stared at her, surprised. She nodded and mentally made the Kyronix return to the palm of her hand. She held it out and both she and Emily could see flecks of red and blue appear before blending into the swirl of gold.

“I’ve never heard of one being that colour before,” Emily said in fascination.

“Yeah, it’s pretty rare. But…” Storm extended her hand. “Touch it and see what happens.”

Emily was obviously very apprehensive about coming into contact with Kyronix of any amount, however her curiosity outweighed her carefulness. She poked a tiny finger into it as if she were testing the temperature of a pool.  

“It feels kinda like water, but more solid,” she announced to Storm in awe. Storm grinned.

“Wait until you see what happens next,” she told the little girl. A moment later, the golden Kyronix turned a bright and bubbly pink.

Emily’s eyes widened. “Did I do that?”

“Yep,” Storm said, and explained. “It changes colour depending on what it’s touching.”

“Cool,” Emily breathed. She retracted her hand, and Storm’s Kyronix turned back to gold. Storm rolled her pant leg back up and pressed the Kyronix covered hand to her cut, and when she moved the hand away the Kyronix stayed to do it’s work. Storm looked up to see that Emily was still there.

“You can go now, if you want.” Storm gestured to the door. “I won’t block you again. I trust you to keep my secret.” Emily chewed her lip and looked to the exit, then back at Storm.

“I’ll stay here with you until your leg gets better,” she said. Emily sat down next to Storm and they waited, watching the Kyronix slowly heal the bleeding wound.

(Seven hundred and twenty nine words…That’s standard for a short story, right?)

The Lovely Shorties

English teacher: We’re going to be writing stories in class…

Me: *Leans forward with excitement.*

English teacher: …Short stories.

Me: *Slumps slightly and cries internally.*

Not going to lie, short stories are my kryptonite. Telling me to write a short story is like telling hikers that regularly take on the tallest mountains to climb a little hill. I don’t despise them, or think that they’re not worth the time of day. In all honesty, I just legitimately find them to be one of the hardest forms of writing.

Now, let’s look at the reasons why.

Number one! There’s always a very specific limit about how long they can be. They are called “short” stories after all. I once wrote a story for a writing contest where the maximum amount of words you could have was four hundred and fifty. Four hundred and fifty. If that sounds like a large number of words, believe me, it’s not. For example, by this sentence you’ve already read about a hundred and sixty three words.

Sticking to a limit sometimes feels like being put in a cage and restrained. You can only have so many words, you can only have so many pages, now make a story with it. Often I like to simply write and see where it takes me, then cut down the excess stuff afterwards. Even this is difficult; actually, it’s especially difficult. Editing can also be a writer’s kryptonite.

If that isn’t enough, short stories really force you to choose which ideas are the best and most important. They force you to cut out anything that’s not, even when you yourself feel like it is.

Basically what this means is, you can’t introduce crazy ideas or have much world building. Well, I suppose you could, but it may confuse the reader depending on how much there is to explain the world. If the setting of a short story is in a place that’s familiar, or if the setting isn’t important, it leaves more room to focus on plot. With short stories, you need all the room you can get.

Since for the most part I enjoy giant fantasy and/or sci-fi environments when writing…err…Yeah, that’s a bit of a problem.

Speaking of needing room for plot, oh man, short stories need an entire plot in one. Solitary. Small. Package. You need a full introduction, climax, and conclusion. You need all the little juicy details of a large story in a small story. This, this is what makes it so hard to me, and why I’m amazed at all the authors who do short stories (seriously, good job guys).

The ability to have all of that in a short story is definitely something to be worked at. Despite its size, it needs to be manageable to write a full story and convey a message.

By the end of this, you should be able to understand why when I try to write a short story I get at least a tiny bit frustrated. Everything from the size to the restraints to the plot is insane.

So here I tell now: The length does not make the story. Short ones can be just as good, and most likely just as emotionally manipulating. And as always, for me personally, they are the most annoying form of writing to attempt