How To Write A StoryADay – Tips For Success

How To Write A StoryADay For A Month

I. Use the site during the StoryADay May challenge, to find prompts and to find community (either in the blog post comments or in the community forums. (Come back on April 25 to get access, or get on the mailing list now!)

It can be fun to go online and chat with other people about how they use each day’s prompt.

II. If May doesn’t work for you, bookmark this site and use the prompts for a personal month of short story writing at any time of the year, whenever your schedule allows. Simply come back and look up the prompts, write your stories,. I recommend telling a few friends what you’re doing to help with the accountability part.

III. For your best chance at success,  get together with your In Real Life writing group and go through the challenge together.

The Rules Of The Challenge

Q. Do I have to write 31 stories in 31 days?

A. No. Since the StoryADay May challenge began in 2010 I have always said: make your own rules. For some people, the challenge of writing a story every day is the thing that excites them the most and helps them to embrace the challenge. For other people it’s unrealistic. Those writers simply decide how many days this month they’re going to write.

The key is to make your own rules and then stick to them. Some years, for example, I take Sundays off.

Q. Do I have to complete the stories in a day?

A. Yes. This is the only place where I am quite strict. There is a power in finishing a story and so I encourage you to push through to the end of your story every day.

This does not mean writing a brilliant draft.

Sometimes you have to cheat. You can write “[something clever happens here]” and then sketch out a resolution and final paragraph if that’s what it takes to get used to the end of the story. Doing this at least teaches you to keep the mood to keep the story moving towards a place of resolution.

Q. What do I do if I miss a day?

A. Move on. Don’t try to catch up. Don’t try to beat yourself up. Do try to figure out what went wrong. Did you want time? Did you get lost in the muddy middle? Did you leave your writing until the last moment and then freeze? Spend a couple of minutes figuring out what wrong and then try to accept it, learn from it and move on. This is not a failure. This is you becoming a dedicated writer. As long as you keep coming back to the page, you’re not failing.

Q. Do I have to post my stories online?

Absolutely not. You don’t have to show them to anyone. This is a safe space, a sandbox, a place for you to play with learning about writing stories. You have the freedom here to be bad. In fact some days I’m going to tell you to go over the top, straight into parody, write whatever you want to have rough. You should feel free to write whatever you need to write to learn your craft without fear of anyone over your shoulder.

Q. Then how do I stay accountable?

Make your challenge public. Either take part in the challenge at storyaday.org during May and September where you can post in the victory dance group or in the blog comments of the prompt itself. The community will congratulate you!

Or tell your friends. Promise to email or tweet or Facebook or Instagram every day as soon as you finish writing. Knowing that people are waiting for that post will keep you honest.

Q. What length should the stories be?

A. If you’re writing a fresh story every day, you’re probably going to be writing very short stories. Some people can bang out 3,000 word stories every day, but in my experience, they are rare. Most people write between 100 and 1200 word stories — flash fiction. You could decide to write a 140-character, Twitter-length story every day, and still be writing a story a day. (Me? Some years I comment to a 100 word story every day).

Just as long as you have a beginning, a middle and an end (not necessarily in that order, and, in a super-short story, one of those can be “off-stage” or implied); a character; a sense that something is happening or changing (even for an instant), then you have a story!

Q. Do you have any other books or courses that can help me well I learned to write stories?

A. Yes, I’m so glad you asked. You can find more books of writing prompts, along with workshops and e-books about finding time to write, becoming a better writer, publishing short story collections yourself, in the StoryADay Shop.

**Q. How can I find it more about StoryADay?

A. Sign up for updates

Q. Any other tips for story of the success?

Yes, come back to the site often. Listen to the Podcast, and sign up for updates.

 

Writing Flash Fiction Gems – Small, Precious, and Slower Than You’d Think

What Is Flash Fiction?

There are, of course, as many definitions of Flash Fiction as there are writers.

Flash Fiction image

Continue reading “Writing Flash Fiction Gems – Small, Precious, and Slower Than You’d Think”

Let’s Talk About Flash Fiction

In which I encourage you to write Flash Fiction and tell you about an upcoming online workshop.

Flash Fiction chat, April 10, 2017

Posted by Story A Day on Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The online workshop will happen on April 22, 2017 from 4 PM until late.

There are 10 tickets for full workshop participants (writing exercise, critique and discussion) and 40 reduced-price tickets for audience-only attendees.

Sign up now

Why Write A StoryADay in May?

How Do You Write A StoryADay For A Month?

First of all let’s start with the better question:

Why write a story a day for a month?

  • It’s not to write 31 brilliant stories that will instantly get published and make you rich and famous.
  • It’s not so that you can prove how long you can go without sleep.
  • It is about making a conscious effort to be creative every day.
  • It is about a focused efforts to practice the craft of storytelling: the act of going from idea to beginning to middle to end.
  • It is about connecting with other people who want to make their writing a priority
  • It is about training your brain to see the world as one great big lucky dip of ideas, characters, conflicts, beauty, tragedy…in short: story material.

Come on this month long journey with us, and discover how much happier you are when you do whatever it takes to acknowledge your creative self every day.

 

No, at the end of this month you will not have 31 perfect stories.

At the end of this month you will have

  • A pile of first draft that you can use as source material for future writing,
  • An understanding of how you work best as a creative writer,
  • A rock solid belief in your own ability to go from the beginning to the end of the story whenever you have to,
  • A sense of accomplishment and pride in your self, and
  • The courage and confidence to call yourself a writer.

Sound good?

Keep coming back, all month, to find out how you can give yourself the gift of rediscovering the joy of creative writing.

And don’t forget to check out the podcast!

[Reading Room] Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong

If you like horror and dark fantasy, you should definitely be reading Alyssa Wong’s work!

My first clue should have been that this story was published in Nightmare Magazine.

This is a fabulous story: original, chilling, populated with compelling characters, with a strong narrative arc and an intriguing premise. But it’s not my kind of story and I kind of hated reading it!

But the writing, right from the start is fabulous:

As my date—Harvey? Harvard?—brags about his alma mater and Manhattan penthouse, I take a bite of overpriced kale and watch his ugly thoughts swirl overhead.

Isn’t that a great opening sentence? It tells you so much.

And it is even more compelling when you begin to realize that she’s not being metaphorical about being able to see his thoughts.

This is a woman who seems like she might be a victim, then quickly isn’t, then vacillates between the two states, depending on who she’s with at the time.

It makes her “real”, and it makes for an interesting metaphor about life.

But it’s horror. And that’s not my thing.

I was impressed with Alyssa Wong’s writing and am a bit sad that she doesn’t seem to write the kinds of stories I like. But that’s hardly a criticism.

If you like horror and dark fantasy, you should definitely be reading Alyssa Wong’s work!

Read Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers at Nightmare Magazine or buy a periodical that features her work, and support publications that pay their authors, at the same time!

SWAGr – Accountability for April 2017

Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! (We’re serious, not sombre!)

What people are saying about StoryADayMay 2014

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

Download your SWAGr Tracking Sheet now, to keep track of your commitments this month

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Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Write a story a day in May – everyone!
  • Revise at least 10 short stories – Iraide
  • Write two short stories. – Jami
  • Attend one writers’ conference – Julie
  • Write fable for WordFactory competition – Sonya
  • Re-read the backstory pieces I wrote in May and see if I can use them within my novel – Monique
  • Research the market – Jami
  • Focus on my serial – Maureen

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends. )



Don’t forget, if you need inspiration for a story you can still get ALL THE PROMPTS from StoryADay May 2016 and support the running of the StoryADay challenge at the same time. (I’m really proud of last year’s collection!) Give a little, get a little :) Click here. Now only $2.99

[Writing Prompt] Medieval Mayhem

Sticking with this month’s theme of writing for publication, today I bring you another prompt associated with a themed issue. This time it’s from Splickety Magazine…

Sticking with this month’s theme of writing for publication, today I bring you another prompt associated with a themed issue.

Splickety Magazine Logo Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Medieval Mayhem”

[Reading Room] A Medieval Romance by Mark Twain

I failed utterly to see the ending coming…

Oh, this one made me laugh.

Not just for the unexpected ending, but for the constant, very modern thoughts that crowded my head as I was reading it.

Basically, this is the story of a ruthless old king who, not having any sons, has his daughter raised as a boy, then sends her to assume his brother’s throne (after the ruthless old king has ruined the good name of his brother’s only heir).

It’s a knotty, Shakespearean set up and I was so consumed with thoughts of the delightful ways a modern writer could treat the topic, that I failed utterly to see the ending coming. Continue reading “[Reading Room] A Medieval Romance by Mark Twain”

[Reading Room] A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf

This story is definitely not bound by the rules of “rising action”, or “character arcs”…

Often, when I talk about how to write a short story, I get caught up in talking about traditional, narrative tales that might be structured in a similar way to a novel.

But one of the things I love about short fiction is its ability to transcend that and be so much more (or less-but-more, perhaps).

This story, A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf, is a lovely example of that. Continue reading “[Reading Room] A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf”