Monday, 12 September 2011

The Chrysalis Experiment - 85,000 words

This year, some friends and I started the Chrysalis Experiment, which I referred to as a year-long foray into the art and science of short story writing. We've posted 36 prompts so far this year, and so far I've written 36 short stories to go along with those prompts. We've had a steady core of participants who have continued to produce stories. Some have fallen behind but have not yet given up. We've got 16 prompts to go (16 weeks), and then we'll earn that sparkly shiny badge up there. But for now, a reflection on how the year has gone for me so far.

I did a word count yesterday, and I had about 86,000 words worth of Chrysalis stories. Yes, some of them blew out beyond 'short story' territory - one story is currently 22k, and not finished - but still, all of them started as a 1k-10k Chrysalis story. My latest story, titled "Case o' the Crazies", is posted on the Chrysalis blog for the world to read.

One of the things I've noticed so far this year is that I tend to write a lot of short stories that feel more like 'beginnings' of larger works. My co-hosts have said the same thing quite often. We've even got a few drafts of novels out of this whole thing. One participant has told us she thinks she's doomed to write flash fiction because she often doesn't make it to the 1k mark. I've discovered a tendency in myself to write post-apocalyptic scenes. I've written a few stories that could potentially belong in the same world.

At the end of this year when I've got 52 stories written, I'm going to take a closer look at all the things I've written about and report on the stats. Genre, word count, number of stories finished as opposed to those begging for more to be added. That kind of thing. I look forward to comparing notes with my fellow Experimenters at that time.

All in all, it's been fascinating, challenging and rather exhilarating.

37 comments:

  1. I'm impressed by how much you've written.

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  2. My goodness! I envy your productivity. I think it's a great idea to let your short stories start larger works. I come across many magazines publishing short story stand-alone novel excerpts to get the word out about the author's novel. Rock on!

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  3. Wow. My word count is puny compared to yours. -stares in awe-

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  4. @Lynda - thanks. Most of the time I don't really think about the volume of words. More the number of stories. But it is a lot of words for short stories I guess!

    @Laura - good point about the novel excerpts. Guess it goes to show that each chapter should be able to stand on its own, with a beginning, middle and end!

    @Brooke - well, for a collection of flash fiction you've got a lot of words! hehe

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  5. Wow! that sounds like a lot of writing and a lot of fun. Congrats on the word count! Is this something you do every year?

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  6. Wow, sounds really cool, Trisha. Have any of your short stories related to other of the short stories?

    -Vicki

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  7. Wow. Out of the three of us, you've done the best job keeping up. I still need to update our table of contents on EC.

    Seeing these preliminary numbers, how do you feel about our more abstract goal? After only 36 weeks of this, isn't hard to remember where we were as writers at the beginning of the year? It feels like we've grown a lot, doesn't it?

    Should we try this again next year?

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  8. @Ms Saba - it is a lot of writing, but a whole lot of fun! No, this was the first year we did it...but maybe we'll do it again.

    @Vicki - yeah, some of them could be said to relate...though my co-hosts point that kind of thing out when it hasn't really occurred to me. hehe

    @Jenn - I'd totally be in it...though there is one whole month where I'll be overseas. Anyway, maybe we could think of a different way of doing things. Mix it up a little! We can talk about that though. :)

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  9. awesome word count. that's like a NaNoWrimo novel and a half! bravo!

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  10. You short fiction people amaze me. I see the bigger story, and have to know it all - which means I have to write it all.

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  11. I started doing the same thing over at Indie Ink. I love the deadline atmosphere. I'm getting a story a week out of the deal, and I concur, many of these stories are just the beginning of longer stories (or books). And of course they're a mixture of horror/sci fi/dystopianism because that's what life on this planet is all about - Believe....
    Amy L.

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  12. Trisha, your word count is truly impressive! Several of my novels have evolved out of short stories and story prompts, including my current one. You'll have a nice digest of ideas when you're done!

    ~Debbie

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  13. Holy wow! That is seriously impressive!

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  14. @Michael - and speaking of NaNo, wheee! can't wait!

    @Jolene - I think I'm more inclined towards longer stories as well. But some of them have worked out nicely as shorties.

    @3to9 - I haven't heard of Indie Ink, but may have to check it out! Sounds like your stories would be fun to read!

    @Debbie - yeah, I really look forward to doing an overall assessment when this year is done.

    @Liz - thank you!

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  15. That is amazing, and what a way to hone your craft. I wish that sort of craziness was catching. BTW, I had a minor squealfest when I saw that you like Type O Negative. I cried like a little girl the day Peter Steele died.

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  16. Julie, another Type O fan??? Very cool to know! I learned about Peter Steele some months after the fact, and it was a huge shock. He was way too young to go. I felt really bad that I had missed it when it happened, too, but I do have a bad habit of being the amongst last to know with these things.

    Anyway - glad to know another fan of the band (and the man). RIP Peter.

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  17. wow- what a fantastic excersise! You've got enough for entire book! Great job. So glad to have discovered your blog:) New follower here

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  18. Very cool. That is an impressive word count, too. The important thing is you're writing, you're moving forward. It's never a waste to write a single word, IMO.

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  19. That's very cool. I've never been that great at the short story. I've written a few, but I'm more of a novel length girl. There's a real art to being short and sweet. Congrats!

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  20. I think short stories are harder to write. I'm very impressed by you.

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  21. I love the experiment, I'm so glad you all offered it! I don't know what my word count is anymore, as I started late, missed a few there in midsummer, and have a whole bunch of awful starts that I scrapped. I can't beleive there are only 16 more prompts!

    Are you going to reform some of them into a novel of sorts, then?

    Please tell me this will continue next year; I'm addicted. :)

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  22. @CQG - thanks for the comment, and for following! Going to hunt down your blog too!

    @Liz - thank you. And I agree. As long as I'm doing something with writing, I feel good. Keeping the creative juices flowing!

    @Elena - I may claim to be good at short stories, and yet as mentioned a lot of those I wrote this year have felt more like 'beginnings'. Not rounded-off stories in themselves.

    @Angie - it's funny how some people find novels hard to write, and others can't confine themselves to a short story!

    @Jes - I'm thinking we'll definitely do something. Maybe including a revamp of our blog. haha. Also, we're plotting to do a compilation with a story from any participant who wants to submit, through CreateSpace.

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  23. I struggle with short stories but need to do something like this to get some practice. Great idea.
    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

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  24. That is so awesome! I bet you're going to have a lot of golden nuggets in there!

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  25. @Charmaine - maybe you should join us next year, if we do decide to do it all again! :)

    @Ali - I have a few that I really love, and some that feel like total nonsense (including this week's, which is half done and involves a girl and her liver which begins to talk to her...). But it's all been fun!

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  26. That's so cool. I can almost never write shorts, because my mind thinks in terms of novels or even series.

    But I finally have a short story idea. I'll be posting it in October for the Rule of Three blogfest. :-)

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  27. That is so cool! What an accomplishment. I wonder if any of those short stories could be combined to make one wicked novel??

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  28. What a fascinating experiment! I bet you are learning all kinds of stuff about yourself as a writer. You're going to have so many novel ideas when you're finished! That's amazing. I am in awe.

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  29. @Misha - I know what you mean, and I'm thinking I may be the same way. I have managed to write a few this year that are just complete as is (or I think they are, anyway...) But then sometimes my co-hosts will go, "You ARE gonna write more on that right???" and that gets me thinking... hehe

    @Julie - there are definitely a few that fit in the same 'world'. I'm not sure how I'd string them all together though. Yet.

    @Peggy - it's been pretty fascinating for sure! Everyone else who's participated has talked about things they've learned, but I'm not really sure I can put my lessons into words. I think it'll be really telling when I go back through and read the stories in chronological order.

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  30. Trisha, congrats on writing so many stories,so many words. Scary, yet comforting to tally them up. I'd hate to know how much I've written...Your 'experiment' is a bit like the Romantic Friday Writers group where writers and poets post under 400 words each Friday. Great practise for cutting out superflous words.

    Thanks for paying homage to my Jane...Denise

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  31. Sounds like an awesome experiment Trisha :D Well done for being so amazingly productive! And it's such a pretty badge, I love how it sparkles :)

    Hugs,

    Rach

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  32. I love this idea and I need to do the same and soon! Maybe next year, since this year is almost over.

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  33. What a idea! Sounds like a wonderful way to write. And 86,000 is an amazing amount of words.

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  34. Well, congrats. I believe anything that gets us writing is worthy of praise. That's a lot of stories. I've tried a few short stories this year and only managed to write very long pieces. I'm not sure I can write something short.

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  35. @Denise - I've enjoyed reading those snippets on occasion. Keep up the good work! It's fun to reflect on how much one's written at the end of the year, I think. Maybe I'll see such a post from you about your Romantic Friday stuff?

    @Rach - thank you! Yeah, a friend made that badge (and all the others we've got) and I thought it was pretty awesome!

    @Hannah - If we continue this thing next year, maybe you want to join us!

    @Clarissa - it's pretty fun, though at times challenging. hehe

    @Rusty - it's not a bad thing, I think, if something longer comes out of it. It's an interesting challenge though, trying to stay small.

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  36. Hi Trisha, I'm going to have a stab at Nanowrimo this year. I've got to adjust my attitude, though. This is not a chore. This is a fantastic opportunity. See? I feel better about it already.

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  37. Deborah - that's the spirit!! It's not a chore at all; it's an option we can take or leave. hehe

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Thanks for your words, me hearties! and don't forget to leave a link to your blog somewhere I can find it!