Short stories have always been my bane. With my mind leaning toward epic fantasies and tales that span the years, the shorter forms often elude me. Which is part of the reason I pursue them.
But here’s a surprising reality: the short stories can be just as shocking and have as many twists for the writer as novels.
The WattVampires announced their competition at the start of October. Competitors needed to write a short story between 1000 and 5000 words. It had to involve vampires, candy, and Halloween. Pretty open ended?
Well, I had just recently had a bit of a story dream that I decided to base this story on. Initially, I thought it would have to be a novel to adequately deal with one of the themes: living ethically and fully even at great cost and how far should one go with that cost and is it ever too much? And can it be dangerous?
The shorter length forced me to condense it. I decided to have three sections, each one focusing on the last couple hours of a Halloween night. What surprised me was how the most crucial scenes came into focus. And I finished the rough draft with 612 words to spare.
After a short break, I then edited it, polished it, summarized it, and shipped it off. A complete short story within eight hours more or less. Beauteous Intent is off to the contest!
This story will take place in a world where I’ve been developing a number of short stories. Don’t have an official name for it yet. But I’ll come up with something.
I can’t stop laughing though because Beauteous Intent is not at all what I intended. It was supposed to be spooky, chilling, much darker. But Aestan turned out to be a far more passive and gentle character than I expected and that changed everything. Despite the danger underlying his and Summer’s relationship, there was an idealism and romance that insisted on pressing through.
During the writing process, I did feel cold though. Sometimes I just don’t write with a lot of feeling, and I know that that shows through. It becomes far too intellectual (what a shock coming from the lawyer). I know what I want to feel just as I know what I should feel. And though I put myself in the character’s shoes and imagine myself in his position, there are times when it still doesn’t hold up.
However, instead of stepping away from this story and digging in later (after the deadline passed), I pushed through. And it represents one of the core questions I find myself mulling over more and more while always addressing the perpetual question of balance and too much.
I won’t win with this story (and that’s not a problem). Even though it meets the guidelines, I’m all but certain this isn’t what the judges are looking for. After all, who reads vampire stories for a story on ethical living, sacrifice, hard choices, and bad decisions? Not many. It’s more of the romantic sort of story that fits a darker Valentine theme, and it’s lacking the sensuality of most vampire romances. The other stories in this competition are spectacular and precisely what I imagine the judges are looking for without being cliché.
But there is one thing I remind myself of: let each story be what it is. There are so many stories to write. Struggling to force one story into something it is not will often just weaken it.
While I started off writing The Celebrity in the hopes of writing a story my mother could enjoy, Beauteous Intent turned out to be the better option for her. It’s funny that at a time when I feel in the most turmoil and the most frustrated something so sweet (and dangerous) would come out. But ah, such is writing. Such is storytelling.