If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have read my novella and short story that I posted here. These were sort of experiments for me for several reasons: 1) I never wrote mystery/suspense stories before, though those are my favorite types of stories to read; 2) I never posted stories online before; 3) I wrote these stories on my blog right off the top of my head, and the only editing I did was to read back over what I had written to correct spelling, grammar and maybe some wording here or there, right after writing, before hitting the “Publish Post” button; 4) I wanted to see if I could attract readers.
I thoroughly enjoyed these two exercises and attracted quite a few readers. I had a couple of friends and relatives absolutely glued to my novella, anxiously looking for a new post each and every day. That made writing it, so much more fun. I didn’t seem to have that same response with my short story, though I still attracted a fair amount of readers.
Now, let’s talk about what I think is right and what I think is wrong with these two pieces of writing. Let’s start with the novella, Dangerous Secrets. I enjoyed writing this story and receiving everyone’s encouragement to keep going, but in the end, I was more disappointed with this story than I was with the short story I posted later. Here’s why: I could have continued the story into a full-length novel with the number of characters I introduced and the situations I put them in. The good thing about this story, is that I did a good job at holding my readers’ attention and seemed to always leave them wanting more at the end of a day’s post. But, in the end, I had both a friend and a relative tell me that I could have done so much more with the story, and I was well aware of that, but I did not want to put a full-length novel on the blog for everyone to read for free. (If I am going to write a full-length novel, I hope to have it published or put it in an E-Book and earn some money from it. I don’t think that’s selfish. I think it’s realistic, and writing a full-length novel is a lot of hard work.) Because of all of this, I ended the story too soon. Yes, I tied up the loose ends and I believe the ending gave closure, but it definitely has the potential for me to re-visit it and turn it into a full-length novel someday, if I choose to.
Now, about the short story, Out of the Pit. I didn’t get as much feedback from friends and relatives on this story, but I really liked this story. I was pleased to keep my cast of characters at a number that was very workable in a short story, so by the time I ended the story, it felt more like the story was over and not like I could do a lot more with it. I liked my characters in this story better, felt that I had developed them better and that I knew them better. So, where did I go wrong with this story? In the “point-of-view”. I have never written a story in the first-person. It isn’t comfortable for me. I find it too confining. However, I stretched the third-person point-of-view beyond the limits in Out of the Pit. You see, it is best to write third-person “limited”, which means stick to telling the story from the main character’s point-of-view, or at the most, from your main character’s and one other important character’s points-of-view, by using a page-break or writing every other chapter from the other character’s point-of-view. What did I do wrong? I wrote from many characters’ points-of-view. I let them share their thoughts, and this caused the story to jump or bounce around too much. It gave the readers a jolt each time a change in point-of-view came, and this can cause readers to not get as involved because they don’t get to really know and care about the main character or two main characters, because they are getting too much information from minor characters. I may go back and edit this story sometime, because I still really like it.
So, be aware of whose point-of-view you are telling your story from. Limit whose thoughts and feelings you choose to share and be sure to create characters that your readers will really care about.
I learned of my point-of-view problem from a publishing consultant, who was gracious enough to look at my short story and offer me feedback. So, I would like to take a minute here and let you know that WinePress Publishing has a great opportunity for writers. You can work with a professional writer or editor for six months, and they will help you write a novel, and then you can publish your completed novel with WinePress Publishing. It is a self-publishing publishing company. Visit their website for more information at: http://www.winepresspublishing.com/.
You may also be interested in The Story Cartel Writing Course. Visit: http://course.storycartel.com/.