The Dan Wells Book Tour Challenge: NaShoStoMo

You know what I’m horrible at? Short stories. From an outsider perspective that looks ridiculous, I know, because I’m a writer, right? I just wrote a 100k book in three months, how hard could a short story be compared to that? The answer: incredibly hard, to the point of not really being comparable. Writing a novel uses completely different skills and techniques than writing short stories, and those are skills and techniques i do not possess. But that’s what practice is for, right?

Yesterday I said that I was going to do something crazy and dumb while on tour, and you probably though I was talking about skydiving or shark hunting or shaking people’s hands, but no, I’m talking about a ridiculous short story challenge. During the month of April I intend to write a short story every day. Consider it my own little version of NaNoWriMo, but with short stories instead of a novel. Many of them will be VERY short, and most of them will be awful, but that’s the point–I’m doing this to force myself to learn, and to keep my writing going while on tour. It’s incredibly difficult to novel while doing a lot of traveling (at least for me), but cranking out short crappy stories is something I (probably) will be able to do. With any luck, by the end of the month I’ll be better at this stuff. If any of them are good enough for public consumption, I’ll post them here.

Want to join me on this mad endeavor? I think it’s a great opportunity to learn some new things, and I’d love to commiserate with anyone nuts enough to join in. Here are a few rules and guidelines to help us along:

1) Start by reading this post from Eric James Stone. It’s got some valuable advice that I know will be specifically handy for me, and probably for you.
2) I’m setting the minimum at 200 words, though most of my stories will likely be longer; it’s possible to have shorter story, but I specifically want to stop myself from writing “There once was a man, he lived and he died” kind of stories. 200 words is short while still being long enough to force me to take it seriously.
3) Each story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We’re trying to learn how to write short stories, not random 200-word space-fillers.
4) As long as you end up with 30 stories, one per day, it doesn’t matter which day they were actually written on–so if you get in the zone and do more than one at a time, you can afford to slack off. This will be handy for me, as some of my tour days involve 14 hours of driving, plus I plan to take Sundays off.
5) If you post about your quest on Twitter or Facebook, use the hashtag #NaShoStoMo. Which totally sounds like the name of Quasimodo’s brother.

Ready? Go!

30 Responses to “The Dan Wells Book Tour Challenge: NaShoStoMo”

  1. Jesse McClusky says:

    Totally with you on this, Dan.

  2. Steven Ludlow says:

    An awesome idea. I will give it a go.

  3. Th. says:

    .

    I like this idea a lot. I would join you if you were doing May.

  4. Michael R. Collings says:

    The one-a-day-for-a-month approach works wonders with almost any kind of writing. I’ve tried it with poetry…and ended up selling/placing almost half the poems I wrote. When I taught freshman comp, I would sometimes assign the class a topic for an upcoming paper, with a due date two weeks away, then require them to write something about the topic for ten minutes each day in class. Other time I would assign a general topic, give the class ten minutes each day for two weeks, then assign the specific topic for the paper.

    In almost every case, the discipline, the physical act of writing, the opportunity to explore ideas without self-censoring (or without the teacher’s red pencil waiting nearby) opened up the students’ abilities to write.

    In one particular class, I had the students write for ten minutes at the beginning of each class for about three weeks, reporting each day the number of words written. Students who could barely scrape together 500 words in an hour at the beginning of the term suddenly discovered that they could write 500 words–frequently very good words indeed–in ten minutes. Just loosening up helped.

    Wish you the best with your short stories. It’s a great experiment.

  5. Addison Smith says:

    I have been outlining too much and writing too little lately, so I will give this a shot. It will be nice to write something without thinking it to death first.

  6. Jace says:

    This seems like an excellent idea. Might help me break writer’s block on my novel.

    Question is, where do I get thirty short story ideas?? I may need to branch out of fantasy…

    Also, NaShoStoMo sounds like a sentence in Judoon.

  7. Heather Muir says:

    @Th. Have you heard of Story A Day in May? I think it started just last year. And it is basically what Dan just said: write a story every day for a month. And it is in May! Check it out at storyaday.org

    And good for you Dan! I did this last May and it was an enlightening experience. And very few of my stories turned out well. But I have two that are keepers for sure. I wish you the best of luck on this endeavor.

  8. Can they be short stories on characters I already know and love in my own novels? If so, then I’m in… I really need to learn how to end stories and so this may help me.

    Extra note, me and a friend tried to buy your newest book here in Calgary, AB and they had ordered none. We are currently ordering them and trying to convince the bookstore managers that they need to bring your books in!

  9. This is going to be fantastic.

  10. Kim Mainord says:

    Well, most of my writing time I need to devote to my novel in progress, but with a 2oo word minimum I can definitely squeeze a few in. It sounds like fun!

    Is there going to be a future Writing Excuses episode for these like with Brandon’s dialogue exercise?

  11. Jace says:

    By the way, is it cheating to prepare a list of potential writing prompts for myself? I’ve been jotting down random ideas and if I use them all I should have nearly half the month covered.

  12. Sounds like an interesting idea! I’ve got a book I want to wrap up in April, as well as a few final papers for college to slack off–er–write. So May might be the better month for me to give this a try. It has been a while since I wrote a short story.

  13. Justin says:

    i for one would like to read all of the short stories you knock out in this time. im not a a writer but im a reader and its fun to see the more unpolished works my favorite authors come up with.

  14. Michael Winegar says:

    Ack! I love the idea but I too need to finish the ol’ novel. Best of luck though and I may try to do something similar between semesters.

    I’ll ask you how it’s going when you get to Georgia! You should have about 21 stories by then.

  15. Michael Winegar says:

    Will you be writing them on your iPad?

  16. Jon Kenkel says:

    I’m way siked that I found this before you got started Dan! I’ve got a friend or two that will also be participating with me, good luck!

  17. Hmmm… My problem with writing shorts is with the definition of “short”. I’ve sold two short stories and the shortest one was 12,000 words. My shortest novel sold is 150,000. Heck, you’ve seen that my game journal updates are 2,000 words. I do not have a gift for brevity. :D That’s why I salute the awesome powers of men like Eric James Stone.

  18. vanflicke says:

    Well, the twitterverse is alive with this one.

    I’m committed, I need something like this and nothing gets me committed like doing insane things – so I set up the domain and a blog to track it. Mosey on over to nashostomo.org to see.

    I’m installing a forum for those that are doing it to get support and prodding from others.

    May be I should be committed…

  19. Taffy says:

    I’m in! This will force me to write those short stories I’ve been needing to write.
    Plus, I have to write one for next week @ Utah Children’s Writers blog. They are doing a short story a day also this April.

  20. [...] Dan Wells is taking a page from NaNoWriMo and starting his own writing thing for April, NaShoStoMo, aka National Short Story Month.  The rules are as [...]

  21. [...] Last night I came across NaShoStoMo (National Short Story Month) via my friend’s blog. Basically, you write thirty short stories [...]

  22. Brilliant idea! I’ve been wanting to dabble in some horror stories lately, sounds like the perfect opportunity. Great idea!

  23. Kim Mainord says:

    I’ve started a thread on TWG for those who want to post their NaShoStoMo pieces and want to read others. Here’s the link:
    http://www.timewastersguide.com/forum/index.php?topic=8251.0

  24. Lincoln says:

    Hey Dan … I did and failed NANO by 7000 words this last year… Im up for another challenge like that so yeah count me in. 200 words min.

    Since my time was limited and divided between work where there is no computer and home I wrote my Nano novel on my iTouch using plaintext and dropbox. Strange but it worked out writing 20 min here 15 min there whenever I had some time alone.

    Being laid off until the middle of April will help too…

  25. One of the hardest assignment I had in college was writing a short story with all the proper elements in less than 500 words. not as easy as it sounds.

    I’m going to try this one, but I’m already three days behind, eeek!

  26. Van says:

    See what you started?! We have the twitter hashtag #NaShoStoMo and I put up a low-budget website with the url NaShoStoMo.org. You have my email, it might be a good idea for you to do a piece on the blog for the event?

  27. I’m in! I think it’s a great idea — I’m with you, the short story is not my natural length at all, so I should learn a lot from doing this. But in July or August, not now, because like several other commenters, I have a novel to finish first.

    I’m with Justin on March 30: it’d be fascinating to actually see all the stories.

  28. Wes Harris says:

    Great idea. I’m in. So far this has been incredibly freeing. Characters, genre, tone, whatever . . . it’s just a one day story. Somebody mentioned endings, I think this will help me with that as well.

  29. LegendaryBandit says:

    I’m really hoping you’ll post some of your short stories, Dan. :)

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