When my editor at Mills and Boon asked if I was interested in writing a Novella for an anthology, my reaction on the telephone was:
“I haven’t written a short story in my life“.
and then, “I’ll do it.”
That was last week.
So what have I learned in the past few days about how foolish I was to accept the challenge to stretch my skills:
*Romance short stories are hard to write. In the space of 25,000 words, about 100 pages, I have to show a couple of characters the reader has come to care about, fall in love, come with a conflict, resolve that conflict and lead the characters and the reader to a happy every after.
And make all of that believable!
*Biggest challenge? How to show the characters falling in love?
There are so many elements to the love story journey that they have to crushed into these 100 page that it is a real challenge to any author.
*The whole thing has to take place over a short time period – perhaps one day/weekend
*Sex scenes have to build up to be credible – how can you do that with such a short time period? The lovers must have known each other long enough to be intimate in a real and loving and romantic way – not easy unless you are writing non committal erotica
*Humour works wonders
* So does some visual stimuli [ snarf]
*Must create a compelling set-up which the reader will relate to from the first sentence.
*It is hard not to have TOO much going on in the story if you are used to writing much bigger books. Too many subplots and secondary characters and ideas working furiously.
*Hero and heroine have to have a shared past of some sort, because it gives the characters a history to work from, to that when they do declare their luurrvvve it does not come completely out of the blue.
BUT- then have to make sure that the reactions when they first meet are credible.
*So build on the backstory so that they have a real history which sparks the initial conflict and keeps it there, based on the internal conflicts and motivation of the hero and heroine – past and present.
*But the past does not control their lives and decisions now. They are grown up people and make their own decisions. The story is happening NOW and in the moment.
*You can try and cram too many themes and layers into a short story.
Too many character relationships and layers and layers and messages. This just leaves the reader with too many questions and confused and jumbled.
*If the story has to end on an open ended note – then so be it.
It the hero and heroine declare undying love after one night it would have been too stupid and unbelievable – give them a future and leave it to the reader to fill in the gaps.
Today I have to take all of those aspects and use them to throw rocks at my poor lovely characters.
I suspect copious quantities of tea will be involved .. and possibly pacing up and down mumbling to myself.