I’ve sold, written and despatched my first commercial short story as The Dreamweaver. The idea, as detailed on the page https://atjentertainments.wordpress.com/the-dreamweaver is that people fill out the order form giving details about the genre, characters etc so they can have a story written featuring themselves, friends or relatives.
It is a very stimulating challenge as it means I have to create a unique story every time around a small amount of information, in whatever setting and style people want. It’s not quite the blend of maths and art in an Oulipo constrained work, but it does get the creative juices flowing.
The inspiration was work by Harlan Ellison in the 70s and others since, where they would sit in a bookshop window with a target of so many short stories written during the day. I am in the Leaves of Dreams shop in Watton each Wednesday so I can produce stories to order for customers.
The joy of the internet, of course, is that I can always research further information via Facebook or other social media so I get a feel of the person who will feature. Even so, it means creating something that has been commissioned and which I hope will be exactly what the purchaser wants. You may have thought it was selling my soul as a writer by producing something to order, but in fact it is as much fun as the normal process of starting from an idea and working out exactly what I want to say.
The main challenge I face is being disciplined in only writing as many words as they are paying for. I tend to let stories run to their natural length so shoehorning something into one, two or three thousand words can be difficult. This is partly because I enjoy plotting and short fiction tends to be harder to include both plot and character without sacrificing one for the other. I don’t want to produce things that have no depth.
Still, I’m looking forward to more commissions.