Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Short Story.

Assignment four of my Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Writing course has had me stumped since the moment I first read it:
Part A. Explain the theme of a current or future work. Minimum words 500.

Part B. Using the theme explained, write a complete 1,000 word short story within your chosen genre. It must have a beginning, middle, and end (not necessarily in that order).
I'm still in a funk after the feedback from my third assignment - to the point that I have come to dislike most of the stories I was working on before the assignment was submitted. It helped me to see the serious flaws in each of them, the lack of important information. I looked at The Angel of Vengeance every day for a week, trying to figure out how to fix it, but continuously came up blank. 

I've stepped away from that story now, at least for a while. I decided to focus on reading, and on trying to get this next assignment done. 

But I'm having serious trouble with it, and I can't even put my finger on why. Is it a lack of understanding what theme actually is? Perhaps. I drew up a chart with six of my works in progress, and spend a while jotting down each of the themes I thought were portrayed in the stories. They were all very different, and they all left me unsure of whether or not I was even doing this thing right. 

Regardless, the theme I have currently settled on - tentatively taken from The Angel of Vengeance - is family. More specifically, the notion that family doesn't end at blood

You think it took me five-hundred words to explain that theme? No freakin' way. I struggled to hit four-hundred

And now I'm having trouble coming up with a short story, for several reasons - the main one being my hatred of the 1,000 word limit.  I have never really liked writing short stories, mostly because I suck at them. I think it's because I started writing novels before attempting a short. That was a stupid thing to do, wasn't it? 

The assignment goes on to say that before attempting it, I should read sections of novels or short stories "to get a better understanding of what is required from this assignment". I grabbed my favourite series and started re-reading, but got nothing from the first novel. So I Googled short stories, and found this little gem

It sort of gives me hope - because it's short, there's a story to it, and I can see the structure. 

I had to tell myself it was time to step away, too - from trying to focus all of my assignments around The Angel of Vengeance. That story isn't ready to be written yet. It's time to play with new ideas, to let some new characters have their say. 

If anybody has any short stories they like to share, I need all the help I can get! I'm determined that one day I'll be able to write shorts as easy as I once found novels.


  1. I have no idea why anyone would NEED 500 words to explain the theme of a story. Unless theme actually means something else than what I think it is o.O. I can help with favourite short stories though but I can't say if they are 1000 words or less (they might be longer). The Hounds of Ulster by Maggie Stiefvater, Many Happy Returns by Daniel Waters, The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Bone Tender by Brenna Yovanoff (this one is online and actually 1410 words), Judgement by Brenna Yovanoff (also online just look up for short stories by Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Gratton and Maggie Stiefvater). I hope these help oh and I can't believe I almost forgot Goblin Fruit by Laini Taylor (but I like all her short stories in Lips Touch Three Times).

    1. I'm so glad it's not just me! I was under the impression that a theme should be simple, so how in the world is it supposed to take 500 words to explain it? I explained mine in a paragraph (and even that was pushing the limits), and then spent the rest of my time explaining HOW the theme was demonstrated in the story. I don't even care if I fail this assignment anymore. It's time to move on.

      Thank you so, so much for all the short story recommendations! It doesn't matter if they're longer. I need 1,000 words for this assignment, but outside of my course I want to learn to write shorts anyway, and I sure as hell won't limit myself to such a tiny word count! =) I will definitely be checking all of these out.

  2. Pfffft. I miss writing classes for the very fact that the struggle was real. Now I have no structure, no direction, and no one telling me I HAVE to do anything. It's hard to get back into the swing of writing after I've been through college courses. :/

    That being said I hope this assignment paned out. I am commenting on this SO late. xD *bad friend*