Mariella Hunt

10 Index Cards, 10 Scenes = 1 Short Story?


I got an idea for a story today. But, I have a feeling that it’s not going to be very long. In fact, I don’t want it to be very long. I want it to be small enough that even people who aren’t big readers will be able to look at it and not lose interest before they make it to the main plot points. (I’m sure there are ways to do this with long stories, too, but this is a personal challenge–my case is that I write too many long stories!) So I decided to do my outlining a different way.

I got out 10 blank index cards and started by writing down the scene that is most vivid in my head, the one that basically makes the plot. Then I let it sit there and I gazed at it, and within 15 minutes I had the other 9 scenes set in the index cards. There’s still a lot to fill in for when I get to plotting it more thoroughly, and I can throw in a few key words for subplots.

This is a challenge to myself. Can I really write a story in just ten scenes? How long will it be? Can I keep it less than 30,000 words? Will it have more or less quality than a 60,000–or even 100,000!–word story that I spend months outlining? I’ve never tried this before and I’m excited to see the outcome. Whether or not it turns out the way I want it to, it’ll be a different approach to the pastime I love most.

I want to write shorter things. Since I’m going to get surgery this week for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, I’m finding different ways to be a writer that are healthier for my hands than crazy NaNoWriMo type goals (nothing against NaNo, of course, but I just can’t participate in it anymore. It’s for my own good. If I do it this year, I’ll be doing a considerably smaller word count goal.) I can’t give up writing–it’s how I breathe. These stories are never going to stop coming to my head and it’s never going to be quiet in there. The most I can do is rethink how I go about my favorite pastime so I don’t have to give it up.

I can’t write much of the short story (if anything at all!) until after the recovery from my surgery, but I can sure develop it a little better while I’m waiting–and come up with more ideas for 10-scene stories. This challenge will be good for me and I’m enjoying it already.

Have you ever challenged yourself like this? Were the results positive? Would you do it again?

P.S. The nominees for the our Liebster Blog Award have come in–and I’ll announce it tomorrow!

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One thought on “10 Index Cards, 10 Scenes = 1 Short Story?

  1. First of all, I love the new layout. The banner is gorgeous. Second of all, this is a very neat idea and I hope it works for you! I know it will be painful for you to be unable to write while your surgery is affecting you–all those ideas with no where to go for the moment–but I have heard of software that will type as you speak. That may be something to look into. Anyway, best of luck in all that you do! :-)

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