Wednesday, 5 August 2020

IWSG August 2020

It's the first Wednesday of the month again in this strangest of years, and of course that means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted as always by the inimitable Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer space for writers to air doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged. Why not join us if you haven't already? This month's excellent co-hosts are Susan Boury RouchardNancy GideonJennifer LaneJennifer HawesChemist Ken and Chrys Fey!


Every month there's an optional question for us to answer. This time it's: 

Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

Well, I have written a short story collection and most of the stories in it were definitely always meant to be in that shorter form. However, the first story, A Change of Mind, ended up in a much longer form, more like a novella, which wasn't how I'd anticipated it. Initially a story of only a couple of hundred words, it was set in a fictional future where a woman is threatening to sue a surgeon after a procedure to alter her personality has gone wrong. (She wanted to be more confident but ends up becoming unbearably arrogant.) I thought there was a lot more to the idea, so I changed the protagonist to a man, and relocated the action to the present day where personality surgery is an illicit trade taking place in rooms above garages and spoken of in hushed voices in seedy pubs. Again though, the desired change was to become more confident for the mild-mannered main character, but this ultimately manifests itself in his becoming a sociopath.

I can't really think of another time this has happened, as usually I set out to write a novel or short story and do that, but I always stay open to possibilities. It's nice to go down a route you hadn't expected sometimes!

What's your answer to this question? I'm sure there'll be loads of interesting ones on the IWSG sign-up list - you can find it here.

21 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick - the important thing is to write isn't it ... sometimes one has to conform to the space available, other times writing for oneself - the pace develops on its own. As you say ... be open to possibilities ... take care - Hilary

Patsy said...

These days I know whether I'm starting a short story, novel, or something else, but that wasn't always the case. My longest novel to date started as a short story.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I've never had an experience like you. I think it says a lot about how good you are as a writer if you were able to make such major changes to your story.

Nancy Gideon said...

What a great premise, Nick!! Glad you recognized the potential. For me, writing short is agony. I always see a book in the basics. The road not traveled is always a dead end. Glad you continued along yours!!

Jemi Fraser said...

That is a fascinating premise for the story!!!
For me, if the story is about characters it tends to be novel length, if the story is about an idea then it's a short or flash :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

I love writing short stories, i have written more than 150 short stories.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's great it became a longer story. Yes, very interesting premise.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

What an intriguing idea. Changing her to a he was probably the way to go.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I find all these posts today so intriguing. Everyone's story seem to evolve in some way that surprises them at some point.

cleemckenzie said...

Sometimes stories do surprise us and morph into other forms. But that's a good thing and when it happens, I get excited. Hey, this is more book than short story! Yay!

Liza said...

I am very impressed with the creativity that drove you to the longer story.

Patricia Josephine aka Patricia Lynne said...

I can relate to that. My zombie short story I originally meant as a 100 word drabble. It clocked in around 10K words.

Chrys Fey said...

Staying open to possibilities is great and all that truly matters. :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I love the concept of your story, A Change of Mind. And I love the process you went through to get it to its final form.

Denise Covey said...

One publisher told me, don't worry about word count. Just tell your story. Even so, we have these figures in our head re what is an acceptable length. One FB group I'm in is always worried about chapter length. There's no right or wrong answer, is there?

Liz A. said...

Stories become what they want to be, eventually. Sometimes we know which way they're meant to go, and sometimes they take us for a ride.

dolorah said...

My first novel was sa short story that needed fleshing out and turned into a novel duri g the process. Then into a trilogy. Despite all the other stories that have been published, that unfinished trilogy still represents my happiest writing adventures.

Diane Burton said...

What a fantastic premise. I like the possibilities.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

The idea of personality surgery is intriguing, especially because I can already think of several public figures who could DEFINITELY use it. As far as which genre to write in, I struggled to write fiction for years until I finally realized that what I really wanted to write was what I was already writing on my blog: creative nonfiction. Once I started working on a memoir, the writing flowed more easily. I'm still interested in writing fiction, but creative nonfiction is my focus right now.

Melissa said...

I usually write in the romance genre, but I have had story ideas invade my mind, and characters who demand that their story be written. I've also written both contemporary and historical.

My characters become like real people the more I get to know them, and their actions and words seem to come from them rather than me. I've laughed at things they do and say, even though I wrote it. It's strange how a writer's mind works sometimes.

Michelle Wallace said...

That was a great collection, Nick!
The illicit trade in personality surgery would be a welcome procedure but the people who need it would probably be reluctant to sign up. hehe!