As my regular followers might know, I’m exploring my Fates Maelstrom main protagonist’s backstory by writing short stories that are also a means to try a different POV.
After writing the first story about Sparkle Anwyl, Goth Patrol, in first-person present POV, I’ve stayed with that for three more shorts – two set some years earlier, when Sparkle was sixteen, and one set a year later when she is 23. (She’s 25 in the novel.)
I like the first-person present POV and I’ve even attempted a version of her first POV scene written in the first-person present – it seems to read okay. As for the backstory developed in these stories, the key incidents are already referenced in the main novel, Fates Maelstrom.
Now, I have two questions:
(1) Can I have other POVs in third for some scenes and Sparkle’s in the first-person present?
(2) The crucial question is – What do I do with the short stories?
I have been working on a framing story, ever since I read Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Last Wish – http://witcher.wikia.com/wiki/The_Last_Wish – in which the Polish writer cleverly uses one for his first shorts collection. However, the norm seems to be to release shorts totally independently, or as free rewards for followers/subscribers.
I decided to research this, and on the internet, I found this interesting article at Writer’s Digest – http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/writing-short-stories-novel-writing – that included this interesting point:
“Short fiction can be a toy box for your novel’s secondary characters, “offstage” action and locations. Outside the realm of your larger manuscript, you can do things like mine the protagonist’s past to find the source of her inner struggle, then use what you’ve learned to add a richness to your novel. (As a side benefit, these stories, if you’re pleased with the results, can later become great marketing tools: Sell them first, to prove the related novel has a receptive audience, or use them as a “bonus” read for novel fans who join your mailing list.)”
I seem to be trying to see if there is a side benefit or whether I remain in the toy box.
For ongoing research, I asked the Insecure Writer’s Support Group on Facebook, “I’ve taken a diversion to explore the backstory of my WIP’s main protagonist. I’ve ended up with some draft short stories that are all pre-WIP and I have a linking/book-ending story. Should they stay as backstory experiments, or should I release them first singly or as an anthology, OR release as a bonus/taster when WIP published …IF published.”
I got some great answers, most notably: Heather M. Gardner. “It really depends on how short and/or how interesting the stories are. I would recommend leaving them just for you, but you could always include them as a free story at the end of your book WHEN its published.”
Nick Wilford “I think you could offer them separately for either free or a low price – it might help build interest in the “main event”. Either as individual stories or a collection.”
Now, I like the idea of a low-price collection to build interest in the ‘main event’, as Nick Wilford calls it, but then the WHEN of Heather M Gardner’s answer troubles me.
Will the novel get published?
Is that important or only the writing experience?
Am I wasting time on social media if I never release anything more into the world? (My tweets get ignored most days.)
Should I just share one short? (In fact, another as I used one in my premature ‘Change of Heart’ post.)
Have you ever written shorts linked to your novels? What did you do with them?
I have heard a lot of fellow writers write short stories to promote their novels. I haven’t but I think you’ll find a lot of support for it. I wish I would. It seems a natural way to excite people about your book.
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Thanks, Jacqui – I just wonder how and when to start. Prevarication? 😉
You’ve given me something to mull over, Roland. I can’t imagine myself embarking on yet another exhausting full length novel. Perhaps I should go back to writing short stories again. And drawing on the rich plethora of my characters would be a fascinating journey. Mmmmm…. Maybe I’ll take a notebook with me when I travel to Australia at the end of this year. While family go about their business, granny can tuck herself away and dream up a few goodies. For starters, somebody has already asked me what happened to Maina – a baddie in Grass Shoots!
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You never know where a short idea is hiding, Jane, so a notebook sounds like a perfect idea. In fact, I carry an old journalist pad in my wheelchair – a relic of my eventing days so very few blank pages remain. Short stories even grow into that exhausting novel, if we aren’t careful/controlled. All the best.
I’ve written lots of little snippets related to my stories. One backstory accidentally turned into an 11K novella, which will likely never see the light of day. I used to have a piece of flash fiction on my website (written in 2014), and it takes place during the WIP I’m writing now. I’ve got another 7K piece that’s set to take place between books 3 and 3.5, but shouldn’t be read before 3.5, otherwise it reveals too much. And I’ve added a 3600 bonus scene that’s complete series prequel to the end of my current WIP.
I find that if I don’t pursue the creative snippets and write them out, I can’t seem to progress on my WIP because I’m so preoccupied.
As for your questions: 1) I’ve seen it done in published works so I say do it if that’s what feels right to you. 2) Bonus material or sold as shorts are both good ideas.
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I agree with your approach, Loni – pursue the creative snippets and write them out. I admit to having fragments dating back to even my teens, and most will never do more than gather dust,
And your answers are very helpful as my inclination was leaning that way.