When I volunteered to try my hand at writing a tiny book, I thought it would be easy. After all, I’m a multi-published romance author. I know how to write. My editor is always telling me I need to be less wordy. It’s something I’m working on, so I thought this would be a perfect way to hone that skill.
But 15 words per page, for a total of 240 words, wow! What a challenge.
To convey a complete story, especially a romance, in only 240 words, is hard. How do you get a couple to meet, fall in love, and have a sense of a happily ever after in such a short space?
I usually approach a book with the idea of the characters having a goal, motivation, and conflict. What do they want, why do they want it, and what’s keeping them from getting it? There’s usually an overarching story question or problem to address, and I have the characters at odds in reaching that goal. But with such a short word count, I had to use a different approach.
For this story, the overarching question/problem was the lost dog. I tried to do a standard plot with peaks and valleys, but again, with the short word count, I couldn’t go fully into my process. For a while, that was really frustrating for me, because I have my writing process down to a science. I had to give myself permission to break my own rules, but still create an engaging story that would make people want to read more. I ended up using each page as its own chapter, giving the tiny book the feel of a story, just limiting what I put into that story.
As challenges me with every book I write, there were so many things I wanted to include in this tiny story, but I couldn’t due to the strict word count. I had to think about what would convey my point as well as get to my main story goal of finding the dog, which meant cutting some delightful parts. It felt unrealistic to have the story end in a marriage, as my books do, but I thought that ending in a date set the stage for a hopeful future, which gives a similar feel to the story.
I loved writing the tiny story. It made me rethink some of my process, but it also made me think about what makes a satisfying romance. As writers, I think we need to try new things and have new challenges so we can grow. If we’re always doing the same thing, we don’t get to see what else is out there or what else we can do. I grew so much as a writer in this process because of how much thought I had to put into making what I do work in such a short format, and in some cases, totally scrapping what I thought it had to look like. In the end, I found a great deal of satisfaction in doing something a little different, and it gave me a new energy as I moved forward with writing my next book.
I hope you’ll give writing a tiny book a try. Even if you don’t come up with a piece of great literature, it’ll stretch your writing muscles and give you the opportunity to try something new.
Click here for details on the tiny book challenge.