So, several weeks ago (Friday, February 15th, to be exact) Flash Friday posted their Week 11 flash fiction writing contest.
Typically, they post a picture, give a word count limit, a cutoff time, and let you have at it. It can be pretty amazing all the different things that come out of people’s brains, hearts, and souls, yet all are connected by the common prompt.
Week 11, however, was different. There wasn’t just one prompt, there were 6! And there was a theme. There were 3 pictures of potential weapons, and 3 pictures of eerie locations. The idea was to use any combination of the 3 weapons, with any combinations of the 3 locations, and write a murder mystery.
The submissions were amazing. You can see Week 11’s post here, the submissions are in the comments. Definitely worth reading through.
That week, I did not submit a story. I had an idea for a story, but I didn’t get the chance to start writing down my idea until much later, well past the deadline. But I did start writing. It was one of those ideas that wouldn’t leave my brain. So days later (6 days later, actually) I started writing. It took much longer to write than I expected, and turned out to be much longer than I thought it would be. It was certainly much longer than the 400 word count maximum prescribed by the contest that week.
I wrote the first draft, then I wrote the second draft, which changed the ending completely. Then, when I thought I was done, I had a brilliant idea on how to rewrite the most dramatic part of the story! Well, I thought it was brilliant and dramatic.
In any case, I worked the story through a 3rd draft. 3,926 words. Only about 10 times the maximum length for the flash fiction contest, but not too long as far as short stories go. It doesn’t take too long to read.
There. Done. From February 21st to March 6th. 14 days. 2 weeks. A full and complete short story. A murder mystery story. I had never written a murder mystery story before. I was sure it was full of holes and inconsistencies and unbelievable characters doing and saying (especially saying) ridiculous things.
But, my wife read it, and she didn’t say much about it. If there were any large gaps in the story, she would have pointed them out and believe me, she would have seen them if they were there to be seen. She’s pretty good at that sort of thing. A co-worker of mine has also read it. We had a conversation about writing stories, and I mentioned this one, and she said she loves to read murder mystery books. She was interested in reading my story, so I shared it with her. I figured who better to read my first murder mystery story than a fan of murder mysteries?
She told me she thought it was excellent, and that when she reached the end she wanted to read more.
That’s a good thing, right? Maybe. It’s one thing to like a story and wish you could continue reading about the character’s lives. It’s another thing to reach the end of a story and feel like more should have been said, there’s too many questions, more needs to be said to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.
Which one is it? I’m not sure to be honest. The thing is,…well, the thing is, the more I think about that story, the more I realize that it could be the start of a much larger story idea I had years ago. This particular idea was one of the few non-fantasy or non-science fiction ideas I’ve ever had. I could take the story I recently wrote and use it to start writing this much larger story.
It wouldn’t be the first time a story I thought what would be a short story turned out to be much larger. At the beginning of the year, I was working on three stories. “Drunk”, “There’s No Such Thing as Ghosts”, and “Of Sorcery and Science”. Both “Drunk” and “There’s No Such Thing as Ghosts” were short stories, while the idea for “Of Sorcery and Science” seemed much larger. But I wasn’t getting very far with any of them. I decided I was going to write “Drunk” through January or until it was complete, then work on “There’s No Such Thing as Ghosts” until it was done, and then pick up “Of Sorcery and Science” again.
But when I wrote “Drunk” to what I thought was the end, I let people read it. 3 people so far have given me some feedback on it, and every single one said that I couldn’t end it there. The story needed to continue.
As I thought about what people had said about the story, more ideas came to mind. Big ideas. Huge ideas even, possibly incorporating some other short stories (much shorter) I had written, and some others I’ve started but not yet finished, and turning what was supposed to be a fairly short story into a grand epic adventure full of fantasy, magic, darkness, wonder, peril, and trying to save worlds from certain doom. A story creating a universe that could be the basis for a million other stories, and provide an explanation for all myths, legends, and fantasy stories from when mankind first started telling stories.
Not too ambitious, right?
So. I’ve got a murder mystery story (currently titled “New Day Dawning”) which could be a much longer story. There is “Drunk” which I’ve started adding to already (it desperately needs a new title), a little bit at least. “No Such Thing As Ghosts”, which is one of the short stories that might be incorporated into my grand fantasy adventure epic that started with “Drunk”, and last but not least, “Of Sorcery and Science”, which actually came first in the chronological order of ideas. It’s a fantasy idea mixed with science fiction and, as far as I can tell, is definitely not a short story.
The question I have before me now is, which story do I write? Do I pick one to work one? Do I try to work on all 4? Which might turn into 3, but they all need to get written regardless.
Decisions, decisions, decisions…