I have a boatload of short stories from my endless menagerie of writing classes that are sitting in my hard drive waiting to be re-purposed. I think it’s something I really want to do before I move on and write anything new. The only question is how to order it. I’ve been reading up on ways to structure a short story collection – putting the stronger pieces up front, almost like an album – and I think that’s what I am likely going to spend my weekend trying to figure out. For the record, here are some of the stories I’m considering:
This is one of my favorites. The good thing about it is it has a clear audience. If the Playboy Fiction contest was still a thing, it’s something I would definitely submit. It has this weird mix of being dirty but also portraying a degree of listlessness in youth. Really, the concept just makes me laugh.
This one is utterly false but comes from a pretty real place that’s two-fold. One, I’ve always had weight issues. I like food and I like drink. Combine that with a proclivity for spending my time watching movies and writing about various shit, pounds stay on. Two, in my bathroom, for the longest time, there was this scale that any time you get near it would say “are you ready?” in sort of an Alexa-esque automated manner. Combine those two points with the fact that I was reading/watching a little bit of Sci-Fi at the time, the idea for this low key paranormal thriller took shape.
“Death of a Matriarch” is really a caricature of my family with sexes reversed. While it is lightly grounded in reality, it was more of a chance to try to look at how families grieve and how people process during those moments of ceremonial mourning. Plus, with playing with the sexes, it gave me a shot to write from a female perspective, which is an area I think I’ve seen growth in and try to utilize whenever I can.
My short story idol is Hemingway. “Existing” is kind of my “Hills Like White Elephants” from a modern perspective. I like both the characters. They both feel real. I’ve started to submit this one around to a couple places – hopefully I will have more on that later.
Once I finalize what I want to do with my Not for Long script, Letter to Serah is something I would love to come back to and try to flush out a second half. I wrote this for my final workshop during undergrad at SNHU and I’m kind of proud of it. It was only supposed to be 25 pages long, but my professor saw where it was heading and allowed me to keep going with it since I was putting in the required work it needed. He thought it was less of a short story and more of a novella, once the second half was considered. We’ll see what happens.
“MPDG” is kind of in the vein as “Letters to Serah” that it features multiple perspectives, but it differs as it is multiple perspectives of the same conversation (and then a twist at the end). The title is a nod to a trap I would (and in some ways still do) fall in to during my early stages in writing: the Manic Pixie Dream Girl cliche. My tendency to fall in that trap relates back to my taste in movies (Garden State, Elizabethtown, and 500 Days of Summer are all favorites of 18-to-24-year-old-Nick and it showed) and is why I’ve focused so hard since then on attacking things from a female perspective in a larger portion of my stories.
“One week with her” was a wordpress writing prompt that I used some classroom time to strengthen. This story is perplexing to me because while I do like it as a short, I think, to a degree, it can also be seen as concept work for something a little larger (either a novel or a screenplay). I love the visuals in it.
“The Friend Zone” is really when I first thought seriously about doing a short story collection. While I don’t know if I want to structure the series into the bar room archetype I talk about in this story, I think this has potential to be a solid piece in whatever I do. Funny note about this, I wrote it with the sexes flipped, from a male perspective, and it received totally different notes when I flipped it to the female perspective. Personally, I like it from the female perspective. I think it plays a little different to what common assumptions of the friend zone are.
Before I moved back to Massachusetts, I used to spend a fair deal of my time publicly working at bookstores. The one thing I loved about those experiences was the people watching opportunities that arose out of those situations. This story came from that area of my life.
That’s about it for right now. I have two stage plays that I really like and may want to sneak in, but in terms of the shorts that I am working with, these are the ones that I like.