Welcome to the third installment in our series, Building a Short Story. If you have been following along, then you know that we started to build a short story by writing a 55 word fiction piece in the post The Micro-Fiction Cornerstone, and are attempting to create a full fledged short story by rewriting the story every week and adhering to a word count that is double of the previous.
Let’s see…that makes this week’s installment 220 words! I’m so damn smart.
Word economy can be a bitch. Generally, with exception of writing 55 word fiction, I do not keep track of my word count. Letters, fiction, articles, blog posts, and updates get my full treatment of either extreme verbosity or extreme curtness.
Most especially at the micro-fiction 55 word level I will typically be over on my first draft 5 to 15 words. That’s where I start to stress, because I don’t want to miss a projection by not being allowed to keep all of my words.
However, in the end I realize that I can say more with less, and it is not the words themselves, but how they are used that really tell the story. It’s the mood and tone they set forth.
The other day I wrote a line in a blog post that contained, “…the vanity of faith.” My usual practice would have been to write that as, “…the blind belief that no matter the outcome, we know we were doing the right thing.”
Not only does the line I used account for very good word economy, but it sets forth a better, more accurate tone to accompany what I wanted to project with the entire passage.
The Heart of the Hound
The night air was whisking away the sounds of an ambulance as I stood inside of Detective Denny Samson’s brick ranch. Getting inside the living room where Denny was sitting on the couch was made easier by the front door being torn from the hinges.
Broken furniture, memories and blood littered the pale blue carpet and off white walls.
Denny’s hands were covered with blood and shards of flesh.
“Did you see it?”
“The Hound. Blazing eyes, heart shaped patch of deep red hair on its chest.”
Crazy, just like the Bentley chick. “Nora’s fine, but you killed the attacker.”
Denny replied with fear, “No. Not me. The beast,” and then he looked up shakily at me, “There’s more. I don’t think the hound was alone.”
Knowing that fear and adrenalin can combine for powerful hallucinations during moments of intense stress, and also knowing that my brother in arms and one of my best friends over the last decade needed some calming, I asked him,” Do you think you can recount what happened? Or would you rather wait until you’ve calmed down?”
“I don’t think I can,” cradling a now blood smeared face in his hands.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that his rights would most likely be read to him before he told the whole story.
Wow, 220 words can paint a big picture, can’t they? Our original 55 words are still in tact and visible but a broader story is starting to come to life, as well as a new relationship revelation.
Two violent assaults, at least one death, a mysterious beast (maybe two), and one cop about to arrest his long time friend in connection with one of the assaults.
We sincerely hope you are enjoying this series on how to build a short story from a micro-fiction piece and would be more than pleased to place a link to your build alongs at the bottom of these posts if you wish.