Yesterday, while I was out shopping with my wife and daughter, well, I got inspired with a story idea. In a matter of minutes I knew the setting, the main character, and the basic plot. It was going to be a short fantasy piece.
It helped that I already had a setting I had used a couple of times, and some elements of that setting drove the plot. There was a scene that was essentially already written because it involved certain things that had to happen a certain way because they were already established for that world. Lift the scene from another work, tweak it for the different characters and details of specific location and there it is, ready to go.
My usual “comfort zone” in writing is the longer novelette to shorter novella lengths (10-20,000 words). This one, however, I knew was going to be a short piece, probably around 2500-3000 words.
Well, as I got to writing, the story just flowed. It came right in at about 2800 words using the “average full line” method* I learned when first starting. (I use this method because it gives the best estimate of how much space the story will take in print.)
And so first draft is done. Next step will be to let it sit a few days and go back to it for another pass and revision. After that, I’ll send it out to “beta readers” and then go back for a final pass before submitting it for possible publication.
*The “average full line” method works as follows. You find the average length of a full line in your story. You ignore short lines. Just get the average number of characters in a complete full line. (In most word processors this would simply be lines that wrap rather than terminating in a carriage return.) Divide the number of characters in that average line by 6 to get number of words per line. Then multiply that number by the number of lines in your story. That’s your word count. This method counts short lines such as brief snatches of dialog as if they were full lines. This is justified because even short lines take up a full line on the page.
Some folk consider it a bit archaic in this day of clicking a menu item and getting a “word count” but it’s the method I learned and it’s the method I use.