For a little while now, I have had a free short story available for those who sign up for my email list. It took me multiple tries, however, to get the story right.
First, I needed to decide what I wanted out of this story. I wanted it to be something new, not a sneak peek or scrapped piece of the book that didn’t make the cut. I also wanted the short story to flesh out a side character in the book.
In my first attempt, I picked a character I was less comfortable with in the hopes that if I wrote this story, both myself and the reader would have a better understanding of who he was. I had it take place after the events in the book as well, exploring where he ended up.
The flaws with this strategy were twofold: I picked both the wrong character and the wrong setting. Instead of playing to my greater strengths, I resorted to buttressing what I consider to be the weaker aspects of my novel. While it proved to be good practice in improving myself in areas where I needed it most, this also meant that the story could never, by design, be my best work.
This is not to say that my first attempt was a waste of time; far from it, in fact. It allowed me to diagnose the issue and figure out how I can do even better the next time.
I needed to remind myself why I was writing my short story. It was not to get better. Rather, it was to create the best short story I could with the resources and skills I already had.
The next try, I picked a character I was comfortable with and a setting I found to be more interesting. I placed it before the events in my book occurred, which helped answer readers’ potential questions about how this person became who he was. Furthermore, by picking a character closer in background to my protagonist, the writing style, too, was aligned better. By giving a background story told in a similar style to the book, I hope to give the reader an accurate depiction of what to expect in the novel itself as well as pique the reader’s interest in the side character’s role moving forward.
If you haven’t already, sign up for my email list to read the story for free. You can unsubscribe whenever you’d like. Plus, I’ve averaged 0 emails per year since setting the list up, so you certainly don’t have to worry about being inundated with messages.