Writing at the speed of light
SPEED OF LIGHT was the theme for September’s Story Friday evening, held at the cave-like theatre at Burdell’s Yard – in conjunction with A Word in Your Ear
Story Fridays are held every second month in Bath, UK. Six or seven writer-performers read freshly-minted stories inspired by a theme, this time Speed of Light. The packed audience heard stories intriguing, exciting, sad, straight and downright hilarious.
I was very happy that another of my short stories was one of these: The Find. It was not written at the speed of light, however. If you write about meteorites you have to find out about them. This certainly took time, especially as I have no geology in my background. This tale was about the finder who became a – wait for it – meteoriticist, (takes practise to say!) It’s the story of how a young man turns tragedy into obsession and how that obsession separated him from “a peopled life”.
It was read by talented actor, Kirsty Cox. You can judge here how brilliantly Kirsty performed my tale.
Mine was only one of the stories read, the packed audience enjoying a wide range of content that evening from talented writers using sci-fi, romance, humour to interpret SPEED OF LIGHT in their own ways.
(Story Fridays, A Word in your Ear in conjunction with Kilter Theatre, are the creation of the talented playwright and short story writer, Clare Reddaway.)
I didn’t ask the other authors how long they took to write their stories, but this is relevant because there’s currently a great deal of interest in writing a great many books in a short time to ensure (attempt) a very good income (Anderle). That has sparked a great writers’ debate around quality versus quantity and, in effect, whether everyone can write at the speed of light, or what may seem like it to those who need a couple of years or more to complete one novel.
Writing a huge number of books in a short space of time? Well, it’s been done, it’s being done. Usually there are characters who appear in different adventures/situations in each book, with the genre being closely defined – e.g. urban fantasy. There may be a close similarity of structure, characterization and plot within the books in the series. It fits with a life-style that demands instantaneous gratification.
This writing is at the opposite end of the scale to writing Flash Fiction which may be read in a flash but can take many attempts to whittle away the word count. This means heavy investment in word choice and serious consideration of meaning.
Short stories – that is stories of 1,000 words upwards – are different in many ways and different to write. There’s more to discuss as shown on sites such as Shortstops, Tania Herschmann’s website. How long does it take to write a satisfying story, beginning, middle, end? Something credible, because it has been properly researched. Something memorable? It’s worth asking different short story authors for the answer, which in itself depends on how the germ of the idea came to the author’s mind. More of this in another blog post.