>Or they do in my experience. I personally believe that you can’t write an article without first at least having some idea of where it might sell. As you will see from yesterday’s post, whenever an idea springs into my head, so too does a market. Not a named market, but a genre market. The names come later, unless I already know one that an idea would be perfect for.
I think the same is true, to a certain extent, of short stories. Yes, you can write fiction on a whim, a lightbulb, an idea, and you simply have to get it all down before it all disappears back to from whence it came. But unless I know already which reader I’m writing for, I don’t start.
Whenever I write an article or a short story I always start with the idea, or even a title. Then, when I get that commission or when I just plain decide to go for it, I write a brief synopsis, and that synopsis is to a template:
Synopsis [ok, so I’m anal] – this goes at the top of the page, centred
Title: [my working title is usually my actual title] – centred
by Diane Parkin [just call me anal …] – centred
Market: [the name of the publication] – all left aligned now
Length: [word count – either contracted or whatever the market runs to]
Deadline: [either real or imaginary]
Opening: [often the intro written in draft form]
Middle: [lots of bullets to make sure I include everything – if it runs over I then have plenty to prune] – left aligned with indented bullets
End: [often the outro written in draft form]
Twist/Back to beginning: [self explanatory]
The synopsis stays in front of me while I write the piece, usually in a different notebook, and I tick things off as I go along.
Whatever kind of short story I’m writing, there’s always a twist at the end, however slight, however subtle. When I write an article I try to link the ending with the opening, or repeat something from the intro as either ironic or in support of my initial premise (or whatever the correct jargon is). When I write a novel, at least 2 out of every 3 chapters ends on a cliff hanger or with a twist. But until I have that market, I can’t start. And I’m the same with a title.