I’m seriously trying to avoid making this blog “all Kosmo, all the time”. Nonetheless, I have been focusing so much on writing the end-of-quarter short story that this makes a natural topic for today.

I’m about 5000 words into the story. The story will likely be between 10000 and 12000 words when I’m done, meaning that I have about 1/3 of it written. Why the funny math? Because some of the words that have already written will surely fall to my editing scythe before I am done.

Writing a story of this length is really a fairly big undertaking. While I can sometimes crank out 1500 words in an hour, I probably average 500-1000 polished words per hour – meaning that this story will take between 12 and 24 hours of work. I really should put a stopwatch to it. Maybe next time.

What exactly is going on with the story at this point? Well, I don’t give away plot details, but I’ll share some insight into the process.

  • Proofreading – When I get 3500+ words written, I start convincing myself that this would be a good time to read through the initial draft and correct some errors. Sure, a lot of the story still needs to be written, and errors will pop in the later work. Nonetheless, I try to make this an iterative process to avoid too much proofreading at one time, since the task kind of sucks. On the bright side, I get more of a feeling of accomplishment once the story has been printed – it feels more “real”.
  • The plot – When I first beginning writing a story, I just start writing various bits and pieces, with just a basic high level plot. When I get to 3000 – 4000 words, I can start shaping the plot a lot more. I divide the story into “scenes” that each have a somewhat independent plot. I also begin to look more closely at the timeline. Are certain events in the correct location, or would they make more sense in a different spot? I also look for gaps in the plot and starting thinking of ways to fill those gaps.
  • Character lifestyles – A basic foundation for fiction is that readers must suspend belief and allow themselves to be carried away by the story. However, I try to blend at least a bit of realism into my stories. Right now, I’m taking a look at the residences of some of my characters and comparing them to the income they would likely earn from their jobs. Are their inconsistencies? Is a character living in a place that would obviously be unaffordable? If so, something must change – either the type of apartment/house, or the occupation.
  • Brainstorm – A substantial amount of the story has been written at this point, but I want to make sure to keep myself open to new ideas. I’ll agree that it is difficult to force brainstorming to occur, but I do try. Essentially, I try to take a step back from the actual work at time, and let things stew on the back burner. I turn the car radio off when I’m driving, to force my brain to go into an unstructured thought process. I’ll jot down some very brief ideas for the plot – or question about how certain situations will be resolved – and go to bed without making and effort to answer them. I’ll let the ideas kick around the next day, and waiting until some new ideas pop up.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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