When I first entered the wide world of writing, the first thing I discovered was, for such a creative medium, there were a ton of rules. Some of the rules contradicted each other, others made no sense in certain genres.
I’m honest. I’m the dude in the movie “I, Robot” who yells out “What about the rules?”. Following this, I strove to follow each and every rule set out by the “learned writers” on the websites and books that I read to hone my craft.
This isn’t going to be any big reveal to anyone, but I learned something very simple. There are no rules. Write what makes your story work, BUT, be willing to compromise.
I’ve always read that a short story should have a conventional story structure, much like a novel. I tried to squish all the parts of a novel into a 5k story and failed miserably, ending up with a rushed, hurried mess that I eventually had to expand into full length novellas.
One day, however, I stumbled upon website that talked about modern short stories. This fine chap of a writer suggested that the short story need not have all the parts of a novel. As I read this blasphemy, I gasped. “What about the rules!!” As I read further, what he wrote made a lot more sense. He told me to think of the short story not as a mini-novel, but as a snapshot of the characters’ lives at one point in time.
Boy, did the light blink on and burn steadily then. The structure rule for the short story, the brick wall I had been beating my head against, now was gone, vanished. Of course, I understood I wasn’t going to write a story about someone going to the grocery store, then coming home and unpacking the groceries. But if while the person was at the grocery store, his wife was at home sharpening a knife with which to meet him at the door, then we’ve got ourselves a party.
I write all this to say to you writers out there: Know the rules. But don’t let the rules keep you from being creative.
That being said, I was able to actually write a story under four thousand words for Mocha Memoirs Press’ 31 days of Steamy Mocha. It’s about summer and a pool and a helpful neighbor.
Swimming Lessons at Amazon: On a warm summer day, a normally prudent woman makes a drastic change with the help of too much caffeine and her hot, younger neighbor.
Write with heart.