I had a delightful experience yesterday when I managed to have some breakthroughs for the short story I’m currently writing. Breakthroughs probably isn’t the right word as I already knew where the story was going, maybe additions, either way I managed to write one passage that brought in an element I didn’t know the story needed, but that it definitely needed. This then lead to a series of ideas in how to improve the final few scenes which I madly added to the messy, mind vomit, google doc that I have going for the short story.
Although I’ve recently learned short story is no longer the correct definition. A short story is defined as a story under 7,500 words, and, as my tale is currently sitting at 10,800 words, it has officially blossomed into a novelette. I still have more words to write before I’ll be done so if it powers past the 17,500 word count it will evolve into it’s second to final form, a novella. The final form is of course a novel, which is a work of over 40,000 words. All these figures are based off of definitions from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for me. I don’t know about you but I think the short story to novelette to novella to novel evolution is just crying out for a pokemon representation of some kind.
Either way, this series of fresh ideas coupled with my self enforced daily word count (which I wrote about in my last post) are sure to get me to the finish line of the, also self enforced, deadline I have for this time next week. I expect the story to stay within the novelette form as I don’t really seeing it breaking the 17,500 word limit, a space I am more than happy with given this is my first effort at writing any kind of prose. Either way, expect the story to be coming your way from this website soon.
While we’re on the topic of short stories I also read an excellent one online yesterday, entitled The Perfect Match, by the writer Ken Liu. I first became aware of his writing a while ago when his first novel, The Grace of Kings, was released. I have to admit I haven’t actually yet read it, and in fact the short story I’ve just linked you to is the first of his work my eyes have tasted. I plan to undo this indiscretion in short order. While he only has the single novel so far he does has a slew of short stories to feast on; including his The Paper Menagerie which can also be read online and won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. The guy knows how to write.
What’s also impressed me about Mr Liu was that writing isn’t his first vocation. After graduating from Harvard, Ken worked in the technology field, then decided to go back to Harvard, or more specifically Harvard Law School, where he achieved his J.D and got into tax law. While all this obviously proves his impressive smarts it’s that he worked (what I’m going to incorrectly call) a “real job” while also working on his writing skills, and he did so for years before he managed to break through into the writing world. To my knowledge he still works in law to this day.
Hard work and persistence will always impress me, let alone the inspiration I draw seeing someone do what I aspire to. Be sure to have a read of those short stories and if they do it for you they way they did it for me then do the smart thing and buy his book.
As we’re now onto the topic of smart people let me make another introduction, Andrew Pelling. The Lady Holly and I watched this video recently (see below) of a TED talk he gave earlier this year in Vancouver. What grabbed me and made me click play on this video rather than any of the other numerous options of things that entertain the internet provides was the description of Andrew as a ‘Biohacker’. I was glad I did as I found the talk enlightening, inspiring, and entertaining. Not bad for a seven minute clip. A lot of this was thanks to Andrew himself who is not only stupidly smart but infectiously curious and positive, not to mention more than a little adorable. I won’t actually bother to tell you what the talks about but suffice it to say I suggest you watch it.