Not long after I was published, my editor suggested I write a short story of around 15,000 words. Up to that point all the books I’d written were around 50,000 plus and this was much shorter. My first reaction was sure! I mean, how hard could it be? Writing is writing, right?
The idea part was easy since I’d been dying to write a paranormal romance featuring feline shapeshifters. While many authors and readers thought werewolves were the best things since sliced bread, I dreamed of glossy black leopards. Full of enthusiasm, I dived into the story and wrote about the small country town of Middlemarch. The town is also home to a community of black leopard shifters and suffers from a shortage of marriageable women. In order to attract women to the district the community decides to host the inaugural Middlemarch Single’s ball. (The town of Middlemarch is a real place and the idea for the Single’s Ball hit our news, which is where I stole it from. The ball takes place this year around Easter if you’re interested in attending.)
The shifter community hopes the women might exert a calming presence on some of the young males. Saber Mitchell, the oldest brother in the Mitchell family, wants at least some of his unruly younger brothers married off since their shenanigans are giving him gray hair. Unfortunately for Saber, the trap springs on him. He takes one look at an attractive lady dressed in red and muscles everyone else aside.
Pleased with my effort I sent the story off to my editor and settled back to wait for the contract offer. An email duly arrived, but the reply wasn’t what I hoped. My editor liked the story idea and the characters. She loved the setting and the humor I incorporated, but there was way too much plot for the story length. Would I like to rewrite the story into something longer?
Back to the drawing board. By this time I’d fallen in love with the characters and the town of Middlemarch myself, so I set about lengthening the story. Scarlet Woman doubled in length by the time I’d finished, and my editor said yes to the revised submission. Yay! Readers enjoyed the story and wanted to know what happened to the rest of Saber’s brothers. The Middlemarch Mates series was born and turned into twelve books, all set in the town of Middlemarch.
Since my first short story attempt, I have learned a thing or two and have managed to write several successful short manuscripts. I do find them tricky, though, and struggle to keep my plots to a bare minimum. Writing Scarlet Woman taught me a lot about writing short even though the book itself is novella sized. I like to think of Scarlet Woman as my little book that could.
If you enjoy erotic romances about family and small towns make sure you grab your free copy of Scarlet Woman (free from Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and All Romance e-books from 28 Jan to 10 Feb 2013) and also Lightning Strikes Twice, which takes place at the same dance as Scarlet Woman (free from Ellora’s Cave and All Romance e-books)
Do you enjoy reading shorter length stories? Do you enjoy writing them?
Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a rambunctious puppy. She's currently hard at work on contemporary story that coincidentally features family and small towns. To learn more about Shelley and her books visit her website.