Short story troubles...

Okay, so I’m finally starting that Caribbean folklore short story collection thing that I’ve been talking about for a while now… my only problem is I want to unalive myself trying to write the story. See this story I’m trying to write is also doubling as a portfolio piece for a Master’s programme… so it really needs so show off my style and essence as a writer. I’m aiming for 5k words, because that’s the requirement of the portfolio (I’ve only ever done 1 other short story and that just hit 2k words.)

I’m just stressing out because I want this to be good. This collection means so much to me but it’s also put me so far out of my comfort zone in so many ways… for one, Short stories aren’t my forte, I usually like to write full novel length projects. And genre wise I usually write romance and for this I’m aiming for something more along the lines of thriller.

I have started writing, but I feel like this is going to be a huge clusterfuck, and I need to finish drafting in the next 2ish weeks because it’s definitely going to need to be re-written and I’ve currently got less than 200 words and I am seriously questioning why I want to put myself through a Masters and the constant pressure of having to create new good content on a schedule. I’m just ranting now I realise, but my brain is frazzled.

I suppose, the question I have here is: What tips have you guys got to hit a word count and do it quickly?

(I want to get the drafting done ASAP, but trying to find the actual story is like pulling teeth because my character is NOT cooperating at all.)

Also what advice would thriller writers give to someone trying to write in the genre for the first time?

And if anyone like to read the very :poop: first 3 lines… read at your own peril: (I’ve already picked out some of its problems but I’m trying to ignore them and just draft the damn thing. I’ve already completely restarted a few times and I know if I keep doing that I won’t get anything done at all.) But some friendly helpful pointers I think will help because I’m not always sure how much to change my writing to fit the thriller genre without compromising the style of my actual writing.

I don't even have a title for this yet

The day that he went missing, Tanty Afsana as she was known by most people around the village, had been shelling peas on her front porch. The soft ‘plink’ of peas hitting the warm silver metal of the bowl echoed a gentle steel pan melody as she hummed along to the sweet sound of calypso.

In the days following his disappearance the effect reverberated through the village, and then across the whole island. News anchors in different blouses and suits all with the same story— A man, aged 18 has gone missing up in Toco after last being seen by his cousin leaving a party; sobbing parents on the evening news pleading for information about their missing son— he’s a sweet, bright boy, he just started living his life; numbers of hotlines floated on a ribbon across the screen— anyone with information please call the tip line number on screen.

The police came up the day after she had seen the news, looking for anyone that might have heard or seen anything strange.

This entire post is a hot mess, so kudos if you stuck through it I guess…? I’m just a mess right now, an energetic, (joyfully) stressed out mess. :ragejoy:


Tip number one. You are not going to make a perfect first draft. Period. I was exactly in your shoes when I was writing for my masters, making an anthology collection featuring my favorite Spirit Slayer, Harken of Oxland. I stressed over the same thing, until I realized that even one word on paper is better then a thousand still stuck in my head.

Get it all out first. Dump it on paper and stop worrying about how good they sound. A lumberjack has to cut down trees before he can build a house. You need to gather your materials and then you can start rearranging them into something resembling a story.

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First, I overshoot word count so easily that it’s a huge meh for me. I go back and cut things that aren’t necessary.

(This won’t work for everyone.) But one thing to do with this is if you know the whole story in detail, is divide it into allotments, how much words you can afford to spend on each section. Write each segment that you’re sure of and leave a bare connective sentence for the parts you know you’re going to have to work on. Any section that goes over is going to eat into another. And sometimes the bare sentence thrown in to connect things won’t ever be fleshed out, if that’s all that needs to be told.

Another thing is making sure that your descriptions are short, and in this case both ethnic and you. You don’t have room in 5K for the surroundings, but you’re dealing with something alien to a “generic reader”.

For example, I’m a quarter Cajun, and a major ham:

T-baw was a handsome man, but he spoke like he had a mouth full of gravel and several missing teeth, with chaw dripping down his chin. Women were prone to telling him to just shut up so they could stare at him adoringly without breaking their inner romantic monologue because he was about to explain how to pluck a duck properly.

Something like that? I’d never have to explain a thing more about him because it’s damn strong impression without really saying much about him. And I’d go back and edit about 5 words out of it or more, after thinking about it, if I was over.

And I feel you on the pressure. I like writing short stories, but I’d never do it for a degree.