As I have mentioned before, the downfall of my past fiction efforts has been an overly designed approach. I have written and completed a handful of short fiction stories using this approach, and some of them have turned out OK; however, I have not yet published a fiction story.
Recently I was inspired by Richard Dreyfus, and decided that I would create my own method of writing fiction (short story or novel), the Mashed Potato Method of Writing a Fiction Story. (I wasn’t sure whether it should be potato or potatoes. Most likely a serving of mashed potatoes contains more than one potato, but Mashed Potato Method had a better cadence.)
At this stage you have opened your word processor or text editor. If you opened your word processor, you have, of course, taken the necessary time to try out a few different fonts to see which will look best for your new fiction story. My daughter is fond of script fonts.
First, your start with a healthy dollop of mashed potatoes, malformed and misshapen in a horrible fiction story blob.
Just start writing without much thought. Cut and paste writing material from other fiction story drafts and other disconnected vignettes you may have written. Go ahead and throw in long tracts from Wikipedia that you may have unearthed while researching aspects of your story. Just keep heaping spoonful after spoonful of mashed potato fiction onto the plate.
Mashed Potato Writing Fiction Method – Step 2: Knock Off the Top
Do you now have a heap of fictional starch on your plate that has approached the size of your head? (In other words, you head is beginning to ache at the bewildering chaos of content now populating what should now be an absolute writing mess.) If so, you can now begin writing and rewriting, shaping the mounds of potato fiction until your story has a nice Devil’s Mountain flattop.
In this step, you are cutting back on a lot of the junk you have thrown into the story, if you can call it a story at this point. Deleting paragraphs, Rewriting paragraphs down to sentences or words. Reorganizing large fiction lumps from one side of the plate to another. Striving for a coherent and compelling fiction story.
Mashed Potato Writing Fiction Method – Step 3: Apply the Fork
Your story may now begin to resemble Devil’s Mountain, but it does not look quite right—time to fine tune through careful application of the fork. In the previous step, your story writing was the mashed potato sculpturing equivalent of clearcutting the rain forest. Now careful pruning of your mashed potatoes in order, attending to the detail of word choice and ensuring that no participles are dangling. I used to call this working on the crinkly bits of the fjord.
How well does this new system work? Since I have adopted this new approach to writing fiction, the results have been amazing. I think they speak for themselves. After eleven months, I have completed nearly 30% of a short fiction story. In a few short years, I will be ready to submit it to literary publications.