All in all, this was a successful little exercise for me. Doing a short story in this format, where I post a section at a time, taught me a lot about myself and how I write, what works and what doesn’t.
I liked the story. It wasn’t perfect, it had its weak spots, but it was solid overall. I felt a lot freer in writing it than I did with other things. Obviously, the lack of focus on brevity allowed me to walk around a bit with my words rather than take on A to B approach of Flash Fiction. It was fun.
The ending kinda sucked. So did the beginning. Having both a weak beginning and ending are mortal wounds in the world of writing. Fortunately for me, being an unknown writer means I’m free to fuck up as much as I need to before people start caring. However, it’s nice to understand why Part 1 and Part 8 were weak. It was all in how I was writing them. Part 1 I wrote and posted in the same session. I just sat down and did it like I do my flash fictions. I learned that doesn’t work for me with longer pieces. Part 8 was written in separate sessions of the same day, but the focus was to finish the story. Because of that, the story suffered. My goal can only be to serve the story. My production based goal of completing the story by a certain time had a negative impact on the story itself. That’s good to know from a writing point of view. That means I can’t force myself to do more and expect the quality that I want.
At the end of it all, it looks like a range of 1,000 to 1,500 words a day is my sweet spot. To give you a reference, Part 8, the final part, was roughly 2,200 words. Less than 1k words just doesn’t scratch the itch for whatever reason, and more than 1,500 pushes me too far out from an editing point of view. I write in one session, take a break for a few hours, and then come back and edit. If I go over the 1,500, my editing suffers because I get impatient (as seen in part 8). Again, good things to know from a writing point of view.
I also learned, because I used to focus on such a high word count in the past, that writing to a smaller word count goal means I can write in smaller, quicker sessions. That means I’m not trying to find the perfect 3 hour writing window to get stuff done. That means I actually fucking write. Fancy that. Actually writing can be pretty helpful when you’ve got a writing goal set for yourself. Also, because my goals are smaller and more manageable, I can meet them without stressing out over it one way or the other. I don’t hang the goal over my head and then kick myself later for not meeting it.
With my current work schedule, 1k to 1,500 words a day (done during my days off from work) means I’m averaging 5k words a week. 16 weeks translates into 80k words, which is a book. That’s roughly one book written every four months. That’s a good enough pace.
Another thing that was interesting about writing this short story in sections was how much the delivery mechanism matters. Subtleties get lost writing in this kind of format. I can’t expect people to remember a small reference that popped up once a week ago. So that factors into things as well. In the future, short stories like these will be done in larger chunks with more days between them. It just works out better.
Going forward, this was a good thing for me to do. I can see certain goals as reachable now. Time to finally get rolling on The Hanging of James Adder.