Dragon image. Slaying The Dragon Beating procrastination by Arkadina.com

The procrastination is real. But so is the plan. And I have a plan … what could go wrong?

Here’s how my first attempt at a Reedsy weekly prompt went.

Step 1: Choose a prompt

I chose a prompt. My resolve coincided with a series of weekly prompts that were set in the decade of my WIP novel. I can use this for my novel. Bonus!

Step 2: Come up with a unique idea

In retrospect, this is where it started to unravel. I know, I thought, even though it’s a prompt for a short story and even thought I’ve publicly declared I’m going to write a short story, I’ll write a side scene instead. It’ll be great. It’ll get me back into the story after the break I’ve had. It’s a win-win!

Step 3: Plot and Structure

I’m putting these two together because for me they go hand in hand. The plot influences the structure and the structure dictates how the plot will (or can) develop. I’m supposed to be writing a complete story and that needs, albeit briefly, a beginning, a middle and an end, now let’s drop my scene idea into this to see how it fits … yep … no … hang on … if I just wiggle this … er no. Just no.

Step 4: Write a first draft of 1000 – 3000 words.

A thousand words in and my plot is wayward but I’m not not worried because I’ve found a couple of new minor characters (one of whom I love), worked the side scene into my main plot which lead me to figure out a tricky bit of plot further down the line, got a whole bunch of ideas and l… yeah… this is going to be more than 3000 words.

Step 5: Reread

It isn’t. It’s 2796 words in fact. And what do you know? it’s got a beginning, a middle and an end. And a bunch of stuff that makes no sense. Including one section written twice. Both times badly :(

Step 6: Edits

Although, technically, this step involves lot of smaller steps, as they’re all rounds of edits I’m clumping them all together. So many typos! And autocorrect is handing me my ass. I gave it a brief shot but I’m over deadline and want to put it away for a while before I dive too deep into this part. Why I thought I could ever manage a finished piece in one week is beyond me.

Step 7: Beta Read?

Is there ever time for this with a weekly short story competition?

Step 8: Submit

Yeah, um … not going to happen. Never in a million years. It’s taken four weeks to get his far. Four weeks I say. And it’s no where near competition standard. I can’t submit this. Even if it was three weeks overdue.

So that’s a fail then?

Yes and no. I didn’t write a stand alone story, so yes, I failed there. But … it’s moved my main story along, has forced me to sit down and actually create a character list (due to the large number of characters who are inevitably going to have to appear in a Jazz club).

All in all, I’ve got a whole lot out of what I did write and I’m super pumped to keep going. So I guess, from that perspective, it’s a win!

What about you? How do you approach writing short stories?