Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Story Behind the Story: Bird's Eye View


When I first started writing, I'd wait around for inspiration to strike.

Fortunately, I didn't watch a lot of TV, often played or worked outside by myself, and had plenty of time to hear myself think.

So inspiration came pretty readily. 

I was often able to work out stories in my head in a fun and relaxed manner. Later, I'd simply go write them down.

That doesn't really work when on a deadline or writing in a professional capacity.

I still need to have fun with writing. I still need to be relaxed. But there's no way I can wait for inspiration.

If you've followed these posts for a while, you know a lot of ideas come from events in my life that get turned around, stuck together and reimagined.

But I've got some additional tricks and prompts that help get things going.

First, I have lists of story types I enjoy reading. Here are just a few:

Quirky westerns.
Flash fiction (less than 1000 words)
Police procedurals
Series stories (with recurring characters)
Whodunnits

Second, I have a very general list of things I like:

Magic tricks
Martial arts
Vinyl records
Etc.

When it's time to write a story, I pick something from each list and start writing.

Yesterday morning--in anticipation of today's blog post--I picked:

Quirky western
Whodunnits
Magic tricks

I wrote the first sentence (which turned out to be more like the 10th in the final draft) and before long it was clear I was writing a story about Sheriff Cheyenne Ned and his consulting detective, the gypsy magician Mrs. O'Connor.

I've only penned one other story set in Darbyville, Kansas, but I have two notebook pages full of characters and ideas.

Finally, since I wanted to be sure and have the story done today, I decided to keep it under 1000 words.

I finished Bird's Eye View in just under 90 minutes with a ten minute break to greet the UPS man.

I hope you enjoy this entry in the series, and I hope you'll share some of the tricks you keep the sleeve of your writing jackets.


After growing up on a Nebraska farm, Richard Prosch worked as a professional writer, artist, and teacher in Wyoming, South Carolina, and Missouri. His western crime fiction captures the fleeting history and lonely frontier stories of his youth where characters aren’t always what they seem, and the windburned landscapes are filled with swift, deadly danger. In 2016, Richard roped the Spur Award for short fiction given by Western Writers of America. Read more at www.RichardProsch.com




18 comments:

  1. I really do love flash fiction, Rich. It's fun to write, and it makes you stretch your writing skills in ways you wouldn't do otherwise. RayBradbury wrote a very short story...wish I could think of the name of it--maybe THE GIFT. So much packed in so few words. The example I always love is Hemingway's story in 6 words: Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.

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    1. You're right on about stretching your skills, Cheryl. It challenges us to make each word count. Great comment!!!

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  2. Interesting article Mr. Richard Prosch. I guess all of us have different ways of coming up with stories. For me, they came and left, morning, noon, and night. As a kid it was VERY aggravating. Now as an old man, I wish some of those stories would come back to me. But...still now and then waking up to a story with beginning, middle, and end---and getting it written down. And there is that stockpile over 50 years... And I forgot, I have hundreds of half finished stories, just sitting there. I wonder how many authors have half finished stories sitting around waiting to be completed? Do you? Do you Cheryl? I never asked that before.

    I was never into flash fiction but a good short story is something I don't think any reader can pass up---over any other type of fiction.

    Cheryl, I knew Ray Bradbury, a very cranky fellow. When he talked to me, he shouted. He didn't seem to like me much. I must have reminded him of someone he really disliked. But...could he ever write a SHORT STORY! As can Mr. Richard Prosch!

    Charlie Steel

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    1. Thanks, Charlie--much appreciated. Yeah, nailing those stories down when we were kids...whew! I hear you. Yes, I've got half-finished scraps of stuff all over. Maybe one day...

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    2. Charlie, I do have stories that are half finished. Lots of them! LOL Even novels that are in various stages of completion. You knew Ray Bradbury? WOW, COOL! Funny he was cranky! LOL

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  3. Very interesting post, Richard, especially how you kick start the creative process mixing up lists of topics etc. A writing tip I picked up as I started on the crazy business of fiction writing was DON'T GET IT RIGHT, GET IT WRITTEN. If you're stuck, WRITE SOMETHING ANYWAY. You can always come back and shape words on a page - you can't do anything with nothing, a blank page.

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    1. Thank you, Andrew! You're absolutely right. I like DON'T GET IT RIGHT, GET IT WRITTEN. I've got a similar quote from Dean Wesley Smith over my keyboard: DARE TO BE BAD.

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  4. I had to interrupt reading the blog to check out the story. Enjoy the read. Given those same elements another writer might have come up with a totally different tale--or nothing. There's magick in storytelling.

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    1. Thanks, JR. Now, that would be a fun exercise. Get a dozen writers together, give them the save five or six elements and see what stories arise. Fun!

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  5. I so admire those who write short stories over and over because I love reading them. I've had luck finishing a few, but when I start writing, it always ends up book length. Enjoyed our post, now to go read your story.

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    1. Thank you, Agnes! Short stories and novels sure are different, aren't they? Reminds me of the old saying --right tool for the right job.

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  6. Love reading and writing shorts, I enjoyed the story and how you came about getting there.

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  7. I'm intrigued by your idea of picking three things and writing the story from those elements. That would work in a scene, also. I've done similar, but not quite. Gonna try your way.

    I'm a convert. Until maybe 10 years ago, I wouldn't read anything but books, preferably over 100,000 words. Long books. The longer, the better. But now because of time restraints, I've started reading more short stories and novellas. And you know, I'm coming to prefer them. I bet they're fully 50% of my reading now.

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    1. Great comment, Jacquie! I think time is a real factor for a lot of us--readers and writers. Shorts offer a chance to put out an idea or take in a new idea in a short expanse of time. Please let me know how your own short writing comes out!

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  8. I love short fiction. I prefer to write short fiction. You did a wonderful job...loved the story and could just see the characters. Thanks Doris

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