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One thousand words???

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Cowyoga View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cowyoga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 12:25am
Originally posted by MattrickBT MattrickBT wrote:

Yeah, but why would a creek need a backstory, ever? It's a creek. Seem like unnecessary exposition to me no matter the project. Just wondering what the thought process is behind such a choice.  Do you read a lot of Tolkien who would ramble about a hill for six pages?


Here lies a question that will remain unanswered, another casualty of word count.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattrickBT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 12:25am
Originally posted by LyndaD LyndaD wrote:

And if that's what you like (to read or write), what's wrong with it?  It is what it is.  Maybe it's a sentient creek. Maybe it's the personification of the son of a river god.  Maybe it's just a really cool creek.
While I agree that flash fiction is not the place for extensive back stories, I don't understand the questioning of a place having a backstory.


There has to be a reason for the backstory. You don't just arbitrarily give back stories for every location in every story. If it doesn't directly affect a character or that back story isn't essential to understanding the story, then it's superfluous. If I was reading a story and they talked about a creek for 3 pages, I'd stop reading, and I don't think I'm alone on this. She even said she realised she had to make it just a creek, I just want to understand the motivation to say 'I'm starting a story, let's write a back story on a creek to start us off'. It just seems...misguided.

I'm not making fun, I'm just fascinated by artist motivations and inspirations.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote Cowyoga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 12:37am
Originally posted by MattrickBT MattrickBT wrote:

Originally posted by LyndaD LyndaD wrote:

And if that's what you like (to read or write), what's wrong with it?  It is what it is.  Maybe it's a sentient creek. Maybe it's the personification of the son of a river god.  Maybe it's just a really cool creek.
While I agree that flash fiction is not the place for extensive back stories, I don't understand the questioning of a place having a backstory.



There has to be a reason for the backstory. You don't just arbitrarily give back stories for every location in every story. If it doesn't directly affect a character or that back story isn't essential to understanding the story, then it's superfluous. If I was reading a story and they talked about a creek for 3 pages, I'd stop reading, and I don't think I'm alone on this. She even said she realised she had to make it just a creek, I just want to understand the motivation to say 'I'm starting a story, let's write a back story on a creek to start us off'. It just seems...misguided.

I'm not making fun, I'm just fascinated by artist motivations and inspirations.


My guy. I just read your post about how you neither seek nor provide feedback due to how unnecessary you find it. I am, similarly, not seeing the necessity of explaining the motivation behind a decision I've made in a first draft. Let us consider that neither of us is likely to find ourselves in the other's readership and call it a day here. I, for one, have to get back to writing the exquisite details of a stately old oak tree that personifies (somewhat inexplicably, but I'll make it work) the indignity of the standard gynecological exam.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattrickBT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 1:02am
No need to be testy, I'm always curious about the methods of other writers, that's all. I like to talk about the process with writers, not the work. I'm sure you'd find aspects of my approach equally puzzling.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AllisonM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 1:58am
First draft ended at a decent 1024 words. Now I'm at 984 and feeling okay. My beta readers, however, are asking for backstory, more story, and wanting to know what happens next. Whomp whomp. :(
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote Cowyoga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 2:43am
Originally posted by MattrickBT MattrickBT wrote:

No need to be testy, I'm always curious about the methods of other writers, that's all. I like to talk about the process with writers, not the work. I'm sure you'd find aspects of my approach equally puzzling.


To be clear, I'm not testy or bothered by you even remotely. I'm used to you because you exist everywhere.

Since my process is both misguided and fascinating, I'll lay it out:

I start off by writing the story exactly as it comes to me. If writing a lengthy history of a creek that flows behind my protagonist's house is where it goes, I let it. When I sit down to write each day, I sometimes start with no idea at all. I start writing anyway and somewhere along the way, maybe in a detailed description of the slug damage on my hostas, I find the story. With a themed contest, I've done a bit more planning, but only a bit. I've spent part of a day thinking about the assignment and ruling out the obvious plots and cliches. I know who what where and when. When I start writing, I learn more. Maybe I learn in 942 words that the creek behind my protagonist's house was the same creek her father played in when he was a child. Maybe I learn that my protagonist lives in the kind of small town that still refers to a home as the old Mason place long after the last Mason has passed and the Meyers' have moved in. Maybe I learn that my protagonist walks to school along the creek instead of along the sidewalk because she thinks her dad is just swell and wants to be just like him. In my second draft, third draft, fourteenth draft, final draft? Yea most of that won't make it in. I'll cut that which needs cutting and put it in my graveyard. I won't feel bad for killing it, since nothing stays dead there for long (not unlike the cemetary that sits on the western bank of that creek, I might add.) Eventually, I'll pluck a cut scene or sentence about this now notorious creek and revive it somewhere new, somewhere that it has room to breathe and grow and then I'll give it entire chapters. I'll name the damn thing Sally's Creek and figure out who Sally is later.

Now, let's look at context. I'm not going to die editing this story (unless I'm so confused by revision and my own process, which surely no one would imply, that I don't even notice when that creek floods again and sweeps me away, extraneous details and all.) So with that knowledge, we can surmise that I was in no true peril when I shared that I'd written a 942 word backstory of the creek and would die in service of revising it. We can likely conclude, then, that it was a passing observation of my progress, shared in both jest and solidarity, on a post specifically about the challenges of the word count.

Any other questions will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm tired and now I have to figure out who this Sally is. Just let me know when you decide if you've made a powerful enemy or a hilarious new best friend.

Wanna know the real bitch of all this? My setting is a horse stable. You don't even want to know how many words that thing started off with. Whoo boy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattrickBT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 3:44am
That's definitely an interesting approach though to me it seems inefficient, or backwards, compared to my processing. I generally take a concept I wish to explore, a theme or an emotion or a circumstance, and I build around that. I have no idea what my world is, who populates it, or what is going to happen. It's kind of like digging up a fossil and not knowing what it's going to be in the end. It seems that you write in search of a concept whereas I pick the concept and then I write  until something human comes out of it. It's amazing how vastly different two people can approach the same craft. Thanks for sharing.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cbb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 4:04am
My wordcount is going to be around a brisk 800! Does this seem insanely low? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattrickBT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 4:07am
There is no such thing as too low, only too much. Though if you're low, make sure it isn't low because it's lacking something you just don't know it's lacking, and it's low because that's all you need. I don't see how being shorter would be a detriment...quality not quantity.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vanwijk88 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2017 at 8:16am
This is my first time doing any kind of writing competition and I really felt that word limit. Even whilst making a conscious effort to keep it short whilst writing, I ended up at 1300 words for first draft. Managed to get it down to 998 without cutting anything too core, but I do miss some of the detail :P 
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