Today is deadline day. For the last two weeks I’ve been writing like some sort of romance-ninja hepped up on caffeine as part of the #TemptedToWrite short story competition run by Mills & Boon (Harlequin Books). This competition presented a challenge and I’d already decided to try to challenge myself with my writing this year. So I jumped in and got started. 10 questions, 10 days, 10,000 words. The competition ran from January to early February, in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. I could do that, sure I could. Hmmm.
It had been many years since I’d written a short story and once I got started, of course I found the experience quite different than writing my two unpublished novels. I’m very much a novice at the plotting and scheming side of fiction writing. I’ve discovered that I’m a ‘pantser’ i.e. I like to write by the seat of my pants. Usually, a bright and shiny new idea will come to me while I’m doing something mundane like brushing my teeth and then I try to work out if the story has legs.
Anyway, I soon discovered that the short story form presents some challenges, especially in the romance genre. Could my two characters really fall in love in only 10,000 words? I hoped I could convey some meaningful interaction between them and of course some heat (otherwise known as sexy times) in the course of a short story. I hope I’ve succeeded. In any case, it was a really great exercise for me as a writer, to answer so many questions about the characters, their motivations and what they would do in various situations, before I actually started to write the first scene. I don’t know that I will ever be a hardcore ‘plotter’ but this competition has helped me to find a happy medium and to think about key scenes and story length.
I also loved the social media aspect of this competition, forming an online community of like-minded (aspiring) romance authors. Much of the competition was run via Facebook and Twitter.
It’s been a real pleasure to virtually chat to the other participants, have a laugh and share each other’s pain in editing. I hope everyone else in the competition enjoyed it as much as I did.
I’m thinking of posting a snippet of my story on this blog soon. In the meantime though, I just wanted to rant a little and also say thanks to Mills & Boon for running such a great competition for aspiring authors. Bravo!