I haven’t started writing TMA02 yet. I’ve procrastinated a lot, and definitely done a lot of thinking about it, which can’t hurt.
What I have been doing, however, is an experiment.
In my last TMA-related post, I explained how I was quite worried about knowing where to start, particularly with regard to the narrative structure, point of view and that kind of thing. Those problems aren’t solved, exactly, but I do have a starting point now.
I was trying to pack too much into my stories; they were like mini-novels, and that’s not how it should be. I have also never really planned a short story, preferring to sit down and see where the ideas take me.
On the advice of many people, I have been reading more short stories to familiarise myself with the genre. A couple of months ago I read Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, which is a short story collection. Raymond Carver is a highly celebrated short story writer, praised particularly for his stark and concise prose, in which he says so much with very few words.
I noticed that one of his stories had a structure which could be mapped onto a story idea I had for my TMA, and was of a similar length. So I made a table:
|Section||Word Count||Function||Raymond Carver’s Story||My Story|
|A||350||Brief summary of why RC added this section – what it achieved in the overall structure and progress of the story.||Very brief outline of what happens in Section A.||Based on the ‘Function’ column, a brief outline of what could happen in my story in a similar amount of words.|
In the end, the Raymond Carver story divided neatly up into seven sections, and the word count was similar to the 2,200 TMA requirement. Completing the table was relatively quick and easy, and by the end I had a full story plotted out. My story, I hasten to add, is completely different to the Carver story I looked at, but it is structurally matched in a way which will probably be imperceptible once it is written.
I can’t say whether this will be successful for my TMA or not, but I have enjoyed it as an exercise in deconstructing the short story. What does everyone else think?