Resources for Writers
Writing Short Stories by Daragh Fleming
Short stories are fun. They’re little glimpses of some obscure off-shot of life. The great thing about writing a short story is that, once you have a spark, the story ignites and writes itself. The words flow once inspiration knocks into you. You’ll know that the idea is right when all you can think about is getting it written down before it fades into the forgotten part of your mind.
For me, the longest and most difficult part of writing a short story is the wait. Waiting around for inspiration to hit can take weeks, sometimes months. You might still write every day, but the good ideas don’t follow your schedule. They take their time, and they hit you at the most inconvenient times. In the shower, at the pub, on the early morning commute. The amount of ideas for stories that have come to me just as I begin to fall asleep is ridiculous. I remember nights having to force myself to shake off sleep and jot down the idea on a notebook so that I could sleep knowing the idea wouldn’t be lost. Some of the stories in this book were born in this way. However, many of these ideas lost out to sleep and were lost in the Land of Nod.
You’ll know you’re onto a winner when it doesn’t feel forced. The story will flow from your fingertips, and it’ll be written before you know it. If I’m trying to force the issue, to make a story work, then it’s always a sign that it may not be the story I should write. I read a lot of tweets online from writers, saying that you need to write thousands of words a day. That can be true if the story is flowing. It’s true if the vibe is on to write that many words. However, if writing that many words feels like a chore, or the story isn’t coming easily, then you shouldn’t write that many words. Your writing will reflect your struggle. Sentences will be awkward and paragraphs will feel laboured. Basically what I’m saying is always take quality over quantity. There were days where I’d much prefer to write 500 good words than 2,000 mediocre ones.
Short story writing allows variation that isn’t really possible with a novel. Each story can be very different, whereas a novel tends to be one complex and intricate narrative. With the short story, you can explore different avenues with each piece. You can really exercise your creativity. You can be bizarre and strange in one story, and hit the reader right in the feels in the next. Having said that, never write a story based on what you think a reader might like. Write for you. Write because you have to write. Don’t try and construct your story to please the crowd. Write YOUR story. Some people will love it, some won’t; at least it’ll be real then.
I wrote this collection over the course of a year and a half. It started with a piece called ‘46A-pathy’, which is based on a bus journey I took home from work when I was living in Dublin. From there, the collection grew organically. I never tried to rush, or force a story. For that reason, I produced them quite unevenly. I had two beta readers for every story. Some months they might have gotten three stories to read over, whilst sometimes they might have been waiting 3 months to receive the next instalment. As I mentioned already, inspiration doesn’t exactly work at you pace. It waits, and then it pounces at you like a cat in the night. For that reason, it’s essential for anyone writing a collection to have patience. There were times where it felt like I might never finish the collection. In the end, you just get a gut feeling, and you’ll know that the story you’re finishing right now, is the one that’ll complete the collection.
In terms of writing influences, I turned to a number of the great short-story writers for inspiration. Of course James Joyce was a factor. His work shows how key it is to set the scene for the reader. Another unique voice that I absorbed was that of David Szalay. His work linked seemingly separate stories with the subtlest of details which is incredibly powerful. However, the biggest influence for me was probably Mr. Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubberbandits. When I was initially writing these stories, I hadn’t considered publication, mainly because I believed the pieces were too bizarre, or oo out there to be published. However, after reading Blindboy’s work, it became obvious that the man had opened a new door in the genre, and I have him to thank for opening that door up for me.
My collection The Book of Revelations is due for release this summer. It’s my first publication and so I’m very excited about it. I hope people enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.
(c) Daragh Fleming
About The Book of Revelations: A Collection of Short Stories:
Sit down and buckle up for a bizarre journey into madness. This is a collection of fifteen short stories, each designed, in its own unique way, to reveal something about the human experience and hit a nerve in the reader. Whether the life of a murderer or of a soon-to-be father, the reader is left contemplating the intricacies of life.
The Book of Revelations is coming this summer (2019) from Riversong Books.