Sunday, May 12, 2013

My first subgenre smash

I went to Chuck Wendig's blog today to check out what this week's Flash Fiction would be. It's "Smashing Subgenres." There were 20 different fiction subgenres, and Chuck asked that we randomly generate (or just pick) two of the subgenres and write a short story in those styles (I got Haunted House and Weird Western).

I had no idea where to start, especially because I had no idea how to write in those subgenres, but below is my process for getting from "Huh? What the hell is weird west?" to "I think the cowboy and the ghost should be attracted to each other"

1. First, find out what the subgenres are, maybe read a sample of some of the more well known authors in that category. Get a good feeling for what readers typically expect from those subgenres.

2.  Write down the first words that come to mind when you think of the subgenre. For example, this is exactly what I wrote for Haunted House. Ghosts, mystery, casper, family history, tragedy. There, I hit something that I think I can actually work with, family history and tragedy can give me a very interesting story and may meld quite well with Weird West.

I did the same thing for my Weird West category.

3. Write a brief couple of sentences fleshing out what's going to happen in the story (maybe a little back story too, to organize your thoughts). Keep asking yourself why things are happening (as an engineer this helps me because we use a 5-Why tool to get to root causes in manufacturing problems).

4. Character info. I know now (from my brief few sentences), that I have two main characters. A woman-turned-ghost, who is Native American, and a man who is a ranch hand, vampire slayer. Some of the things I did here were to look up coming Native American names, picture someone in my mind and write down their characteristics (physical and otherwise), and look up some common accessories for cowboys...

5. Now, I'm ready to actually start writing. I don't begin at the beginning of this story, but half way through, I only have 1,000 words so I want to make sure they're all interesting.

6. I write. I just barrel through it, not worrying about word count, just making sure all the necessary detail and back-story get the appropriate mention. Does the story make sense? Did I leave any loose ends? Are the characters believable?

7. All the words are on paper, and I do three things. First, I check my word count, 1,400 words. Ouch, got to cut about 400. Second, I read through the story, removing unnecessary detail that I spent twenty minutes coming up with, and removing scenes that don't add value to the story. Then, I email it to my boyfriend (who is at a one-year-old's birthday party and thank you so much for being supportive and taking the time to read this for me!) so he can let me know if it makes sense, if it's interesting, and point out any weak spots.

8. Revise, revise, revise. Focusing on a few of the main points Eric pointed out, I elaborate on some flashbacks to try and make sure the history of what's going on makes sense. Then I work on the ending a little bit, so it doesn't just slap you in the face unannounced. And apparently I never mentioned my character was a man, so I have to make sure that's something that the reader know too.

9. Post it and congratulate yourself on stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new!

No comments:

Post a Comment