I’ve got four short stories in various stages of revisions right now: “Whistle While You Work”, “Aftermath”, “Just Visiting”, and “Lady on the Stairs”. They were all written about the same time, but in pairs (“Whistle” and “Aftermath” together; “Visiting” and “Lady” together). They’re different stories, but it’s just interesting to see how different they are in terms of writing/revising them.
Of the four, “Lady” needs the most work. I was sure what it was when I started writing it, but when I got to the end, I figured it out. It’s going to take a few rewrites to get the tone just right and make sure I get across what I’m trying to say.
I knew what “Visiting” was when I started writing it, but it’s taken quite a bit of tweaking to get the right mood, more than I anticipated.
I knew, but I didn’t know what “Whistle” was about. I had the scene in my head, but I didn’t know the why of the whole thing until the very end. It started off pretty straight forward and then my brain gave me the twist. It was kind of like “Lady”, except I had a much better handle on what was going on when I started the story.
“Aftermath” is basically done. The story came out as it should be. It just needs a little tweaking.
People who aren’t writers often think that writing short stories is like working an assembly line. You’re doing basically the same thing every time. The process is the same. So therefore, the idea that one story might be easier or more difficult than another is baffling. You’re doing the same thing? Why is it so hard this time when it was so easy the last time? Or vice versa.
Sure, the process is the same. But every story is it’s own beast. Going back to the assembly line comparison, it would be like I’m putting on the headlights, but every car that comes down the line is different. So even though I’m doing the same job, it doesn’t get done exactly the same way because I’m dealing with a different vehicle ever time.
While I’m following the same basic writing process (first draft, rewrites, revisions, polishing), different stories require different amounts of each step.
Non-writers aren’t the only ones that need to be aware of this, though.
I need to remember that, too.