"I have gotten so many letters from girls and boys who were so excited and proud to see a Black woman performing one of their favorite characters, “Elphaba”, in the musical Wicked. I was in Wicked for nearly 2 and a half years and I learned so much during that time.. .it wasn’t always easy and I was so busy in my own experience of working at the Gershwin theatre that I didn’t truly imagine so many kids would be inspired.
"Oh, but the letters flew in, the artwork the fan sites, all the love that said "We’re so proud of you!" and "We can do it too!" I found out over the years that these things have meant alot to young people of color. "
This is horrifying hahaha. (Via @amberbenson)
i want to beat doge2048 so badly, but i keep getting stuck at derp doge.
Langston Hughes, “April Rain Song”
being a one-shot writer is great bc I can paint a whole world in less than a thousand words, but it’s also really freaking frustrating bc I’m almost physically incapable of writing more than a thousand words? like, I’ve been at it all day and haven’t even cracked 500. It’s incredibly painful, and I just want to write more but it just. won’t. come. (and this is fast for me!)
I have so many ideas but even giving form to one small thing is like having to dig a hole in the sand with nothing but my hands and I feel so uselessly limited and ugh
It’s one of those mixed blessing things, honestly. I kind of sit in the middle. I can write anywhere from 100 words to 7,000 words, but I usually hang out in the “one-shot” category because most of my stories focus on one small thing and don’t really transfer well into multi-chaptered monstrosities.
That’s not to say that I’ve never written multi-chaptered things, because I have in the past. (At least one was over 100,000 words; my most recent was about 47k.) However, I’ve overwhelmingly written one-shots in the past and will continue to do so. It’s surprising that so far for Frozen I’ve contributed some one-shots that are…fairly decent in length?
I think, though, in your case—though I won’t pretend to know you, or your writing process, so I’m talking in general here, about writers who write shorter-length stories habitually—it might be different in that…
Hmm. I guess… I haven’t read your stuff, so I can’t say for sure, but perhaps your style lends itself well to writing flash-fiction. If this is naturally how you write, it would make sense that writing a lot is hard. Because people who write flash-fiction learn to cram a lot of deep stuff into less than 2,500 words (but more often than not, less than 1,500 words). That’s difficult!
I can swap back and forth but I consider myself something of a jack-of-all-trades, so to speak. Because of this, I haven’t really “mastered” any particular manner or fashion of storytelling. I am tolerable at all of them. (I haven’t figured out if this is good or bad, yet. Probably bad in the publishing world.)
That said, when you’re used to short stories, I think you tend to write in those terms. People who normally write chaptered ‘fics tend to go the other way.
So for my latest story (the entire premise of which is “make searlait cry”), I had to ask myself, How can I use this concept and condense it into a shorter piece of fiction? My answer ended up being a lot of scene breaks, and writing non-linearly. I guess…kind of like flash-storytelling. Little snippets to force time-flow. I could have probably done a really sappy 400-700 word piece, but I don’t think it would have done what I wanted it to do, which was get across very specific things about death. (It’s still a one-shot, though.)
Someone whose strong suit was writing long ‘fics might have asked, “How can I flesh this idea out to tell this story?”
I mean, my premise is really, reallllyyyyyy basic: Anna dies.
So maybe the comparison isn’t as good as a story with like SUPER DEEP THEMES. But hopefully it still makes sense.
I think people who write more flash fiction might naturally condense their ideas and so when they begin writing there isn’t even that question of how a story will be written, because they already know. Or maybe they’re sitting there going HOW DO I TAKE ALL OF THESE WORDS AND MAKE THEM MEANINGFUL?! (The trend, of course, in short fiction is to have few words but they all really, really matter.)
I find that when I write that way, when I intentionally write something and want it to be short, or I write in a style that lends itself well to writing short stories [for me personally, anyway] (COUGH PRESENT TENSE COUGH), I sit there and
OVER EVERY SINGLE
So one day I’ll churn out 4k of moderately written crap AKA mediocrity (like today).
And other days I’ll write 450 words
but I spent the SAME AMOUNT OF TIME WRITING THEM BOTH.
So in the end, I probably have a damn good 450 words, and an amaaaazingly mediocre 4k—even after the rewrite/edit.
As a writerly person I guess I’d say I would rather have a damn good 450 words (vs. a mediocre 4,000), but it takes a lot of time to write a damn good 450 words. It’s like, I’m exhausted by the time I churn that out. And I never, ever think that hard about anything longer than 1,400 words. So maybe that’s what you’re dealing with? I’m not sure.
/scuttles back under a rock
(pulls you out from under the rock)
omg this is so interesting, process is the coolest thing to talk about.
I’m going to ramble mostly nonsensically and in run-on sentences (bc thats what I do best), so more is under the cut
Punchy, I’m chuckling a little, because flash fiction is what I tend to write best— when I write fiction at all. (Poetry is by far my strongest suit as creative writing goes.) Flash/Oneshot fic also tends to lend itself better to certain types of source media — eg, film or stand-alone novel vs. tv or novel series. When the source writing is tight or the view into the world is limited, you tend to see fics that are more concentrated on “filling in” offscreen moments or offering character insight. When the source is more sprawling and/or inconsistent, you as a writer have a lot more to work with in terms of world and character possibilities, which tends to result in longer, more exploratory fics.
As to process, I mean— it all depends on your personality, and how you train your writing style in everyday life. I’m sure you’ll find it ~totally shocking~ that this is a thing M and I talked about back in the day, because for all that we had very similar takes on character and storytelling purpose, our storytelling proclivities/output were (lol) very different. My writing in Real Life centers on taking facts and distilling them into their most salient points as concisely as possible. My RL job also requires analyzing human behavior. So then if you look at my recreational writing, I’m drawn to writing fics that are tightly focused, character-driven, and heavily tied to canon. (Because canon’s reality is reality, no matter how fucked up it is.)
Anyway, to get back to your issue with the struggle to push words out: it’s really just about practice. When I started going back to fiction after a … six? seven? year hiatus, in which I had been exclusively writing poetry, it was a HUGE struggle just to write complete sentences, let alone come up with plots and character arcs. So I started small, by working with 100-word drabbles. I gave myself writing challenges tied to other arts I enjoy. I started edging out my word caps from 100 to 250 to 500, and then a fandom later I was up to the point of several thousand words in a story with no end in sight.
If you’re having a hard time fleshing out a concept: it’s probably just not meant to expand that far, or else you’re focusing the scope of the concept too narrowly. One of the hallmarks of good writing is that not only is a theme or concept doing something for the story’s characters… but it’s also offering us, as readers, some insight about ourselves or the human condition as well.
"Not a perfect soldier, but a good man."
Steve Rogers may be a superhuman who could jump off planes without parachutes, but he’s also just a kid from Brooklyn.
Clark Kent may be a god who shoots fire from his eyes, but he’s also just a farm boy from Smallville.
"Make a better world than ours."
Steve Rogers, orphaned and frail and impoverished, who would speak up when nobody would, who would fight and claw at bullies twice his own size, who would throw himself over a rogue grenade to protect his comrades.
Clark Kent, lost and hated and rejected, who would risk exposure rather than stop helping people, who would let bullies punch him rather than hurt them, who would inspire his own tormentor because of kindness instead of bitterness.
They do not become Superman or Captain America because of that emblazoned S or that star-spangled shield. But because of who they are before the world gets to know them. Because of who they are since the very beginning of their stories, and who they have continued to be, despite all the struggles and difficulties.