I started a short story every day in February. It was part of Kathryn Ptacek’s February Story Starts challenge. (Ms. Ptacek is the Horror Writers Association’s newsletter editor.) You start a new story each day, but you don’t aim to finish it. The challenge is about consistency and creativity. I know from NaNoWriMo that I can type at a keyboard every day, but I was worried about thinking up 29 different story ideas.
Surely I’d run out of ideas.
I didn’t. In fact, the challenge got easier as the days ticked by. I can honestly say I no longer fear running out of ideas. That was nice to learn.
Day 11, blech.
I also learned that I am definitely not a science fiction horror type. I tried a spaceship thing for day 11, blech.
Moving on, I discovered that I found inspiration in real life events. I came across an historic figure who was a bad guy done real bad. So I created a pyromaniac character who got revenge.
Most story starts were about 400 words long. My longest was 2000 words, and my shortest was 13 words:
Blood spilled across the horizon. We were at war again with Cthulhu’s spawn.Day 15
I got so excited about Day 18’s idea that I went on to write the whole story in one setting, edited it, and then sent it off to an anthology’s slush pile. Maybe the story will find a permanent home at that anthology.:-)
Day 21, worth revisiting.
Some other ideas I will revisit in the future, like this one:
I was the first family member at the funeral home for Mother’s viewing. The attendant stayed at the entrance to greet guests while I proceeded to the viewing room. Mother wouldn’t have approved of my navy skirt and cream blouse, but she wasn’t in a position to complain.
There she was, hands folded over a Bible—as if—and wearing the green dress I picked out for her. Mother hated green.
I hid my face for a second while I snickered. When I looked at her again . . . hadn’t her hands been resting on the little white Bible? Nah, surely they had been by her sides as they were now.
Cousin Harold’s voice, loud as ever, carried from the anteroom. I rounded my shoulders and tried to squeeze out a tear.
“Darleen,” Harold crooned as he approached and kissed my cheek, “you poor, poor thing.” He looked over my shoulder at the casket. “Well, where is she?”
I spun around. Mother’s casket was empty.Day 21
This month-long exercise in story starts was affirming and fun and a good learning opportunity. I’m doing the challenge again next year for sure.
Speaking of challenges, did you know April is National Poetry Month? I’m thinking of writing a poem everyday in April. Thirty zombie poems, or thirty witching hour poems, or . . .
Feature Image by Reuben Juarez on Unsplash
Kathryn Ptacek’s February Story Starts challenge: http://horror.org/private/newsletter/?article=a-not-so-final-note-from-the-editor-27