(This post was originally written on 750words.com. It has been edited.)
Narrative isn’t usually something I can just write. I can’t do it like I do this–stream of consciousness. This is easy. You just type what you’re thinking until you’re done or until you get the word count you’re looking for. Narrative is different. It’s why I’ve never been sure if I could do Nano. Of course, that’s the challenge, right? I really should try it this year. I’ll have a couple of weeks of 750 words under my belt by then. I hope I have a decent streak going. All I’ll need to do is 1500 words on top of that. But it’s 1500 words that make sense and are in some kind of order.
That’s the thing. Here, I can spew anything. It doesn’t need transitions or dialogue tags or character bibles. I’m not following a plot; I don’t have an outline. I don’t even know what the next sentence is going to be until I’m actually writing the next sentence. In fact, sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to write next so I just write that I don’t know what I’m going to write next.
If I were to do Nano in 750 words, I’d have to do it like vignettes, I think. Have a list of prompts, have really well-defined characters. Have a separate doc to put things in order. It’s all about the outline. With a good outline, I would feel free to write wherever, rather than in chronological order. Chronological order gets me every time. I think my problem is that I saw Pulp Fiction at a very formative age. I read a lot of Bret Easton Ellis, too. That’s what pop culture does to you. I fell in love with their style of storytelling so much that I want it to be my own.
Fandom proved a lot of things to me. I can write a lot of words. I didn’t know that. I never believed that. But even that first month, when I was letting myself off the hook after 250, I still wrote more than 20 thousand words. In 30 days! I’d never done that before. I keep trying to get myself back on track, but it’s harder. Fandom feels like accountability. There was somebody watching and waiting, even if I didn’t know who they were. I also really loved the characters.
Which is, I think, why short stories are so hard for me. I need to get stuck in, and a thousand words isn’t time. It was my fannish sweet spot, but only because I would write multiple short stories, and because we already have to the TV show, the film, the book, the album. There was already so much canon and information that my tiny thousand word story could slot in easily wherever I wanted it.