Monday, October 12, 2009

Story fifty-seven

I completed and submitted my 57th short story of the year today. It's a 2,200-word Valentine's Day romance.

I began writing it on August 8, 2008, but had completed only the first scene before I picked the story up again a few days ago.


sandra seamans said...

I've noticed that you always have a start date for your stories. Is it important to date your first drafts?

Michael Bracken said...

Short answer: No.

When other writers--especially beginning writers--ask me how long it takes to write a short story, I always have some vague answer about the writing taking only a few hours, but the time from initial idea to final draft might take years.

This year I decided to provide more information on my blog, partly because of questions I've received and partly from my own curiosity. In the past I mostly just noted sales. This year I'm tracking completed manuscripts, their length, and how long it takes to get from initial idea to submitted manuscript.

Because the computer tracks the date I first open a file, and because all of my writing these days happens on the computer, I'm using that information as my start date. Some stories predate my computer use, and others have lost their origin date because they've been copied from PC to PC to PC to Mac to Mac to Mac as I've upgraded and changed computer operating systems over the years.

So, I track date of conception--not date of first draft--because the computer allows me to, and I share that information because some writers are curious about how long it takes to write a short story.

sandra seamans said...

Thanks, Michael. I thought you might be using it as some kind of proof that you hadn't stolen someone else's idea. There's been a lot of plagerism law suits lately and I thought perhaps you did this to keep your work safe from attack.

Michael Bracken said...

Theft of an idea isn't, or shouldn't be, much of a problem, because it isn't the idea behind a story that makes it unique, it's the execution of the idea that makes the story unique.

How many times have you see some variation of Romeo & Juliet (two teenagers fall in love but their families don't get along). Probably more than you can count.

If every idea had to be unique, I might have only a few dozen stories to my credit, rather than several hundred, because I've reused ideas several times.

And I've gotten ideas for stories from reading or watching other people's work. For example, I watched a movie on the Hallmark channel this weekend, a western that had as its core idea something similar to a Cornell Wollrich mystery about a woman who takes the place of and pretends to be a woman who died. Watching that movie sparked a story idea for me that takes the core idea and moves it into the modern age.

Will I ever write the story? I don't know, but I did write the opening scene and some notes for the rest of the story.