Staying in Creative Shape

Last month, I finished my 2019 goal of 11 short stories and my two year goal of fifteen stories. I surpassed both of these goals . I’ve been able to write 24 stories in less than two years (I started the goal back in October of 2017). This is a big accomplishment for me that has taken a lot of time and dedication. One of the things that has helped me in the past couple of months to finish more than 7 short stories in 4 months is an outlining system that I have been applying to all of my stories.

I’m fortunate enough to be one of those writers who has the whole story delivered to me from out of the depths of my mind all at once. In the past, I’ve just taken that and ran, pulling and scoping what I can from beat to beat in my story. It’s worked, but I have noticed that it leads to me drifting off a lot into my mind to see the story scenes and characters-which is great, except for the fact that sometimes I drift too far and end up thinking about things that are in no way related to what I should be writing. Eventually, I come back and get to work, but that’s after wasting sometimes 30 to 40 mins (more if I end up falling into an internet hole fueled by some random thought about how long it would take someone to walk from the tip to the toe of the America’s.

When I quit my job and started to focus more on my writing career, I knew that I needed to come up with a better, faster way to write that helped me complete more stories and stay on track. So I began plotting and outlining. My method involves figuring out some crucial things about my story. Below is a breakdown that anyone can use to help them quickly outline their stories while still keeping things loose for their creative muse.


Word Count Range:



Main Characters:


Beginning (including word count):

Middle (including word count):

End (including word count):

Filling in this information before sitting down at the blank page has helped me stay focused while I write and complete more stories in less time. I’ll feel free to copy it/write it down to help get your stories out of your head and on to the page. In a later post, I’ll explore this method more.

All of that is to say that I am now shifting my focus from short stories toward editing up my manuscript for Out of the Machine, Into the Heart, growing my freelance business and network, and getting more stories out there. I don’t want to get rusty on my short form because it teaches so much in such a small amount of words. So, I am going to fry two eggs in one skillet by writing a flash or micro story a day during the month of August (and possibly beyond), post it on the site for people to read. This will generate more traffic to Byline by Crook, which will grow my network while also keeping my writing muscles in shape.

I’ll be posting the short stories as new blog posts and have them on a separate page of the site for easy look up. All of these stories will be written day of and edited before posting, so in short, not all of them will be bangers, I’m aware of that but I’m looking to accomplish more than a golden egg every time. I want to produce a well-formed story from beginning to end with proper pacing, characterization, reveals, beats, and world-building. Hopefully, each of the stories will accomplish that.

Feel free to post your own micro (500 words or less) or flash (1,000 words or less) story in the comments of each of my story posts.