This postmortem covers my first short story, Tale of Forgotten Tale. If you have not read it yet, you should do that now before proceeding.
This was the first story that I had written in many years. I'm always coming up with plenty of ideas, working out scenes, or developing characters. But for many years it just percolated in my head or in hasty notes so I would remember1.
In many ways I've always scoffed at people saying this type of stuff is hard. I've always had an easy time with writing my stories.
That is until now.
I've always written when the mood struck me. During my earlier years this was easy since I had all the time in the world to do with as I pleased. It was only until recently when I decided to do this rain or shine at specific times that it truly dawned on me just how hard it can be.
Being creative on the spot is hard. It takes real mental work, especially when there are distractions, you're tired, or you only have a small window in which to do it. It's not so much the actual work that is hard as it is "forcing" myself to write and stay focused on what it is I'm doing.
During the several hours I sat there writing this story, each line was almost painful to write. I would think, write a line, look at it, think, write another line, and so on. Each paragraph took several minutes, and I tend to write short paragraphs. This only got worse as the story progressed.
When finished I was drained! I was more than ready to call it good!
All in all I'm extremely proud of this first story. Not that I think it will win any prizes in its current form, but that I was able to accomplish my goals. Plus, I find the story interesting.
Here is a bit of trivia for you.
What gender do you think the protagonist is?
If you responded with your own gender, then I must clap myself on the back. If not, well, I tried. By removing any reference to the gender I hoped to instill a bit of either mystery or self projection into the story.
Just so we're on the same page, the character is actually a young girl.
Things that went right
There are several key things that I think went right:
- I completed the story (don't knock it, just finishing this first story is a testament).
- I was able to get back into the flow of generating ideas in a short time. I was up and going with the story within the first 30 minutes of sitting down to write.
- Regardless of the slogging it only took a few hours to actually write the story.
- While writing the story I decided to drop any reference to the protagonist's gender. Thinking that most people don't constantly remind themselves of their sex.
Things that went wrong
I hit a wall throughout. I just was not able to really get into a groove and write without catching myself all of the time. I took time away from the story during the day a few times which really put me into a bind later. So much so I had to wait until the following morning to actually reread the story in full before calling it ready to post.
In all honestly, this thing is a mess! I think I changed tenses (first person, past or present) many times, it's got typos, and it sometimes just quickly "jumps" ahead (especially later in the story).
Work that needs to be done
It's too short and I can see where some really good scenes could be inserted. Of course, there is the technical issues such as grammar, word choice, and the like.
I also need to plan more of the story up front, and save more time for revision later.
How I feel about the work
As I said, I'm really proud of this piece. It needs work, and is a bit shorter than it should be, but I was able to do it.
- On a side note, I have a terrible memory for specifics. Sometimes it's a curse, but in creative endeavors it's actually a blessing. It's easy to let things go when you can't remember them!