About Me

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Research and Story Starts

I've been working on revising a short short story, an experimental piece I've been required to cut from about 1,165 words to 1,000, to stay under the maximum word limit. It's been an unsatisfying 995. It's been 1,oo1. It's been 1,034, and 1,056. But, it has gotten stronger with each re-read. I've recombined dialogue into more meaningful units; dropped the unnecessary line, so the odd dialogue flows more naturally from the mouth of each of two characters, with the mystery and charisma of a play, and the added bonus of minimal narrative, characterizing for the reader how the speaker would say it, cluing them to the story's backstory and the speaker's motivation. I've improved the ending.

If it were to become a longer short story, I would pick back up a thread or two I chose to delete. I don't ordinarily like writing to length. I believe a story is the number of words required to tell it. However, this little story has benefited from a tighter focus.

It is a complete scene; but it is not a complete short story. In order to write it, I've had to research cerebral palsy, it's prevalence in twins, what spastic bilateral CP means, types of leg braces, and horse therapy. It all started with the words: Rita gainsaid walking... (I don't know why. There's more to the line, and the opening line keeps changing as I tweak it.) The story is still evolving. It will always be a short, and never a novel. I started it about a year ago, revised it once and abandoned it as an interesting kernel, and now, I'm polishing its potential for Glimmer Train's new category: Best Start, planning to gamble my $10.00 for the possibility of recognition.


  1. Rita gainsaid walking said, "Break a leg Annie!"... or something like that. Good luck with that publication!

  2. Good luck! It sounds like quite some research work that you need to do there, but I'm sure it will be worth it in the end. It does sound intriguing.

  3. Hi TomC and Lori,

    Thank you for your good wishes! I should have clarified that the contest doesn't result in publication; it results in getting your name on their web site and in their online newsletter as having submitted one of the best fifty "story starts". The publishers are very selective, so I trust, that if they like you're writing, it means something. (I've written about Glimmer Train before and a positive rejection I received from Susan, one of the editor sisters, where she added a personal note: Good writing.)

    Lori, it's amazing how much research may be required for even a very short story. When I started writing it, I didn't know where the story was going to go, and once I knew, I needed to know my details were accurate. For example, I switched from muscular dystrophy to cerebral palsy, once I knew more about the two conditions. But, the condition is not the central story; it's the death of a twin, and the psychological aftermath.

  4. Sounds very compelling Annie. Look forward to hearing more.

  5. Good luck, Annie! I can't wait to read it. I'm happy that you're doing so much research for the work. It sounds like it will be very interesting. Getting a note from an editor is a very positive sign. Way to go!

    I'll come back and read your newer posts tonight or tomorrow. I just had to get one in before we leave for today:) Have a beautiful day.