Writing a Short Story Collection (With Your Help!)

Courtesy of DasWortgewand on pixabay.com

First off, thank you all for your views on my flash fiction pieces and my blog overall these weeks.  It’s been a great way to keep me going and not lapse into droughts.  I know I’ve typically written posts that are in the realm of writing advice and discussion, but I’ve always wanted to prove I really write.  This allows me to do both.

It’s also made me realize something else.

Every Little Bit Helps

If I write a flash fiction piece averaging 1,000 words a week for the supposed 52 weeks that are in a year, I’ll have written approximately 52,000 words of fiction.

That’s a little over a novel’s length of fiction.

But these are flash fiction pieces.  While they can stand alone, sometimes, I find myself wanting to continue them, but can’t due to the word count restrictions of flash fiction or those of the prompt.  I find that my flash fiction tends to be like opening scenes of longer stories (with some exceptions.)

Which is why I propose the following.

A Modest Proposal

I want to publish a short story collection, but not just any collection.  I want to write and publish extended versions of thirteen of the most popular Flash Fiction Friday pieces on my blog written between August 24, 2016 and August 25, 2017. 

And that’s where you, dear reader, come in:

  1. Every fourth Friday, I will host a poll, asking you, dear readers, which flash fiction piece you want to be extended and put in the collection.
  2. This poll will be in a separate post from the flash fiction pieces.
  3. You may only vote once.  This is to prevent inaccuracies and fraud.
  4. The story titles will be randomized in their poll positions to prevent any kind of bias.
  5. The poll closes exactly one week from when it opens.
  6. Please read the updated rules right here.
  7. I will have links to each piece on this page so you can go back and read them if you happened to miss one.
  8. Rules might be added or subtracted as this whole process develops.

Questions You Might Have

Why only thirteen stories? I was initially aiming for twelve, but in truth, I haven’t seen a hard and fast number.  Some collections have five stories, while some have ten.  In my case, thirteen is the most comfortable number of short stories I want to work with.  And 52 is divisible by 4, equaling 13.  Makes it easier to track which stories get picked in a kind of weekly war.

How much will they be extended? According to Wikipedia, short stories cap off at about 7,500 words.  Anything more, and you’re headed to novelette territory.  I don’t imagine each story will be 7,500 words, but I imagine they might have two or three extra scenes to give them a beginning-middle-end sort of deal.  The language will also be polished, maybe more descriptive.

Why have a poll at all? Fair point.  I could do all the sorting myself.  But what fun would that be? No writer exists in a vacuum.  If I am ever going to improve, I should know what I’m doing right.  I should know what I’m doing wrong.  I should know what stories resonated with you, and which ones fell flat. Plus, the thirteen stories chosen out of this process might force me to re-evaluate them for a common theme or core that binds them.

What type of flash fiction/short stories/novels do you write? As of the moment, I prefer writing “weird” fiction, and by “weird,” I mean under the “speculative” umbrella.  They might be hard fantasy, they might be sci-fi, or they might just be a little weird and speculative, like an alternate universe/apocalypse style. Their moods might range from dark to comic.  And I don’t believe they’ll be suitable for young children or young teens.  Think adult, but with a child’s heart.

When will it be published? What if you keep postponing publication, like George R. R. Martin? What if you chicken out of publishing the collection?

To all of these questions, I’ve made two versions of my answer: the nice version and the stern version.

The Nice Version

I’ve decided that if this works out how I envision it, this will be the first work of fiction I ever publish.  (If it doesn’t work out, I’ll keep hacking away at my novel like I always do.) Once the stories are chosen, I’ll need to continue them, polish them, edit them, organize them, and all that good stuff.

And the “all-that-good-stuff” part takes time — time that I can’t give you an estimate on, because I haven’t done anything like this before.

What I can tell you is that I will set the soft deadline/release date of August 24, 2018.  The reason this deadline is soft (and two years away) is because things might change between now and then.  I might land a stable job that consumes my time.  I might have trouble finding an editor.  I might find myself in an existential crisis.

And this is all because I’ve never published before, nor ever hosted anything like this before.  I’m not even sure if anything like this has been done before.  I would appreciate it if you cut me some slack, because I don’t have to do this.

The Stern Version

I’m serious.

I don’t have to do any of this.

I don’t have to write each week.  (I should, however, because it’s been good for me.)

I don’t have to give you the chance to shape the collection and help me hone my writing skills.

This is something I want to do, not need to do.

This isn’t to say that you can’t hold me accountable for my actions, or you can’t feel a little disappointed if I go past my deadline.  But if you try to beat me up or send me death threats over a delay, then that says a lot more about your character than mine.

But doesn’t that make you ungratefulWhat? No! I’m eternally grateful for ever view, every comment, and every read that I can get.  In this social-media-saturated world, it’s hard to punch through all the noise sometimes.  That takes work.  And I wouldn’t be here if no one listened.

All I’m reiterating is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you.  I’m not going to boss you around, so don’t boss me around.

We cool? Okay. We cool.

Stay Tuned This Friday!

This coming Friday, the first poll and the fourth consecutive flash fiction piece I’ve written will go live.  I’m not quite sure what it’ll be about yet, but I know it will involve an alien in a graveyard.

And if you like it enough, you can vote for it to be included in the collection in the polls.

So, what do you say? Will you accept this modest proposal of mine?



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