So what of the short story? Surely there’s no need, after all it’s only a few thousand words or less, you just plunge in don’t you? Well, no; for me that would be like setting off without an address, map or compass. I have left Satnav out of this analogy because it would take me on the journey; whereas I aim to navigate.
When I begin a short story I write a plan, it’s generally a page of single spaced writing and it acts as my guide to the written journey I intend to embark on. I begin by writing the title and a short paragraph which outlines the inspiration and early facts of the piece. It reads a little bit like a pitch as in: describe your story in a paragraph. Next, I describe the central theme, then the characters and the setting; I also consider tone and voice.
While the story has been incubating I will have been alert and making notes these are then added to the page, they may be factual or lead to further research. Finally, I ask myself if this story has a universal theme that people will relate to; something bigger than the story itself. As the story is written it diverts from these notes in unexpected ways, the plan is a template and is not cast in stone. Notes and additions will appear around the margins of the plan. The short story when finally realised will have changed and developed, which is a big part of the magic of writing, later it will be edited and revised over several drafts.