Random Thoughts on Blog-Stories

Recently someone told me that her uncle really liked The Monsters’ House, which is the first story in my short story collection, Seasons of Imagination.  I told her that I wasn’t too surprised, given how much symbolism there is in the story.  I then said that I really don’t use a lot of symbolism in my short stories.

“Why not?” she asked.

She had me there: why not?  I think it is because I typically write “flash fiction” instead of “short stories”.  My typical story is made for my blog.  It is usually very short.  Not including the 100-word Friday Fictioneers, my typical story runs about 1,000 words.  They tell a simple story.  The Monsters’ House is closer to 8,000, maybe 9,000 words.  It is complex.  The characters have time to breath and grow.  There is room for little motives and symbolism.

Still, why not?  Why don’t I use more symbolism?  I know it does creep into my stories, sometimes intentionally, usually not, i.e., subconsciously.  But I rarely sit down and think it through.

Of course, 90% of the fiction I post is more flash than “flash fiction”.  I will see a prompt and write almost stream of conscious.  If I don’t have a story posted within a half of an hour of seeing the prompt, it is usually because I am too busy working.  I almost never think things through before I start to write, at least for these blog-stories.

I wrote The Monster House closer to how I’ve written my novels.  I will admit that my serial novels began as off the top of my head stories, but The Halley Branch and The Old Mill soon followed the way I wrote The Fireborn.  That is, I have an idea.  I think it through.  I take a long walk and it begins to gel.  I take another long walk and it solidifies even more.  I start writing, taking breaks to walk and think.  The stories are all written in my head, edited in my head, revised in my head, long before I put one word “on paper”.

I’ve read some “flash fiction” by other bloggers that have obviously been well thought out and researched before they were written out.  And so I ask myself, should I slow down on my flash, take my time and write some stories that are a little “deeper”?  Should I purposefully add those things we talked about when we analyzed classic short stories, like symbolism?

Anyway.  Just some thoughts for a Monday morning.

 

 

16 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on Blog-Stories

  1. D. Wallace Peach

    Interesting musing, Trent. I think there is room for all kinds of stories in the world, and therefore each of us should write what works for us. Sometimes that will be long stories full of symbolism, sometimes serials, sometimes flash pieces. I believe that stories often lead us and tell themselves and we are wise to let them unfold. :-) Happy Writing!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I might need to start doing a weekly post, Monday Musings…

      I do get it that sometimes a story will only need a a few words to be told, while other stories demand a lot of time and attention. We as authors can purposefully go a certain way, but sometimes we are wise to listen to the story that wants to be told and follow. Anyway, I do like to do these little flash pieces, but it is so satisfying to write a more in depth story.

      Thanks!

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  2. cordeliasmom2012

    Trent, for whatever it’s worth, I agree with Penny and Prior. The flash fiction done on a blog is usually just for fun, so why spend a lot of time researching it? Plus, you have the talent to make the story exciting no matter how short it is and whether or not you’re doing it as stream of consciousness or as a planned short story. Just go with your gut. There are those of us who envy your ability to write fiction.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks. You are right that a lot of the writing for the blog is having fun with it. I do want to try to write more “publish-worthy” short fiction, but I think you are right, even there it is always best to follow my gut.

      Thanks.

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  3. Sandra Conner

    It’s true there’s a place for thinking a story through, doing research, and organizing plot carefully. I tell all my creative writing students that if they are writing a novel — or a short story that is meant to have lasting importance or grab large audiences — then they do need some degree of serious planning and organization. I tell them if they have an idea for a story, and it’s flowing, then go with the flow. Sit down and write out all of it they can. But after that, then they need to start thinking and getting a handle on where they really want the story to go and how they’ll get it there. Create some sort of outline (not necessarily anything formal — but what works for them), so they’ll know two weeks later whether they’re actually taking the story where they wanted it to go.

    However, there’s also much to be said for just sitting down and writing whatever comes out. in fact, i often have my students do just that. When we use a prompt and just give ourselves over to it with no careful thought or planning — just full-steam-ahead stream of consciousness — that’s when we often discover new things inside of us that have been waiting to be written. When we write like that, we don’t let ourselves get bogged down by all the “rules of good writing,” and suddenly our creativity leaps out of its barriers and gives us some beautiful — and sometimes very unexpected — gifts.

    So I think the happy medium that you have going is something you need to continue with. You’re giving yourself the best of both worlds. Just my 2 cents’ worth on your ‘Monday thoughts.’

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Sandra. I can see how there is room/reason for both ways to write. I do a lot of writing to a prompt. To me that encourages the more stream of consciousness style. They are also a lot of fun.

      I think I might try to do a few more “formal” stories on occasion. Occasionally I do, but perhaps not often enough. Something to explore…

      Thanks.

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  4. prior..

    well I have recently thought about some of the approaches to flash fiction I have seen.
    which, as you noted – the flash fiction I have seen varies so much author to author.

    I think the output depends on “where” the author is at with their mood, their writing goals, and how the prompt speaks to them, ya know?
    and then some bloggers have a signature style – we know we will get humor, or aliens, or depth and maybe layered historical facts that are expounded upon.

    and so while I thought I liked when bloggers put more time into a prompt – I actually realized I just like inspired and genuine.
    and so if a blogger is in a mode of writing fast, ten minute pieces – that is their signature style at the time.
    If they connect to history – or try to teach us – or obviously spend time crafting something a little extra clever – that is where they are at.
    I have totally enjoyed the meaty pieces – and the fast pieces that were just light and fun. and then those in between.

    I guess the point that I am making is that I think the approach will and should change for the author.
    and did you say that you usually have your post up within a half hour of the prompt?

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I occasionally take my time on pieces i put up. There are some that I spend a lot of time crafting. But most of them, the vast majority, are written pretty much like I’m taking dictation. I might think about it for a few minutes, but typically I’ll have something posted right away. I guess closer to an hour for a longer work, like what i’d write for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto, but then, some of the Friday Fictioneers are up in 10 minutes. I write very fast when I want to… But then, I also occasionally take my time and come up with those longer, more intricate, detailed pieces. So I guess I’m kind of asking myself if I should spend more time on short fiction and do more of those longer, more involved stories.

      All of that being said… ;) I do get your point. I think when i write, slow or thought out, it reads like “Trent”. I think I do have a style. But I’m also sure that most people who read the blog are used to seeing my quick, stream of consciousness works. That’s what the expect. So, yeah, I get that too. Hmmm….

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      1. prior..

        well thanks for the reply….
        and yes, you have Trent’s style…
        and regarding:
        “spend more time on short fiction and do more of those longer, more involved stories”
        well maybe both:
        do less fiction posts for the month of Feb and make them dense – and then do more involved longer stories –
        oh i dunno – is that what you meant ?
        or did you mean more involved stories in a short fiction

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          I guess I mean to not feel so compelled to spit out a story in 30 minutes ;) Part of it is that I want to put out another book of short fiction, and I’m not 100% sure I have enough top rate stories that people would want to actually pay for. Now understand, when I took stories from my blog to include in Seasons of Imagination, I did at least 4 or 5 drafts -after- I removed them from the blog. Some I rewrote from beginning to end. So I am sure there are things I’ve posted that I could use, just thinking out loud, really…

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  5. Penny Wilson Writes

    Personal opinion here… I think that if you are inspired to write something that is only 500 words, then that’s what you should write. I don’t know about you, but with me, if I try to force it, then it’s either garbage or it doesn’t come at all. Just keep doing what you do Trent! :)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Penny. I guess one of the things I am thinking about is spending more time, perhaps much more time, on my short fiction instead of doing it as a super-quick writing exercise. Occasionally I do take more time, but most of the stories I post are, as i said, almost stream of conscious writing.

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