Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Birds and Short Stories

I was chatting with a new friend about the birds I can see outside my room. Just half an hour ago, the more common visiting black cat chased away the newly visiting gray one. Then the waxbills came out (I'm sure that's what they are now, I really didn't know before). There's about half a dozen birds that flutter around from twig to twig and on the ground between me and the straggly bush.

The waxbills and Japanese white-eyes quickly jump from one branch to another to the ground to a flower pot. The bulbuls come in quick then fly off. The doves mosey, strut around on the concrete and show off to the ladies. They all have their different personalities.
Different personalities and when you want to photograph them, it requires different approaches. Cats and swift birds need to be snuck up on, you have to be ready at any moment, but if you move too fast, they get away an all you have is a tiny, blurry sasquatch. The slower birds need patience because they'll sit with their butt to you for a while, then just get up and leave.
I think sometimes dealing with stories is like this. Not every story is the same (shouldn't be, IMO, despite finding unintentional similar themes or motifs on occasion). Every writer finds the process that works for them, but I think that process doesn't always work with every story.

I think, for me, there's a big difference in how I write short stories compared to novels. I'm trying, on the whole, to have a better idea where a story is going, rather than just starting with an idea and running with it. But when it comes to short stories, this is even more important. I need to know how it begins and ends, and I need some idea of the middle (compared to knowing the beginning, some of the middle and a vague sense of where events need to end up for my novels), unless it's a short story with no set word limit. If I don't know the ending scene of a short story, it's just a blurry cat photo. >_<

Each short story is also slightly different. Some need every detail planned out, others need two or three strong images and I get through it. The halloween story I'm working my way through is actually trippingme up, because it's a small, flightly bird story--I caught an idea and it stuck around, but if I sneak up too fast, it's slips out of my grasp and hops out of reach, taunting me. I have to turn it around, view it from all angles, and slowly come up to it, until we're face to face.

Happy writing, everyone,

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