I was recently reading an article about an online class from Neil Gaiman. And the article writer mentioned a piece of advice Gaiman gave.

Gaiman said he was advised to write his short stories as if they were each the final chapter in a novel.

As I have not taken the class and am receiving this advice second-hand, I don’t know if Gaiman elaborated on the idea, but I can image. By writing the story as if it’s the end of something larger, you pull in history for your characters and jump right to the best part.

Gaiman’s had a bit of success at writing short stories, so this line of thinking has merit.

Then I thought about my own writing. I tend towards writing genre and speculative fiction, and I worried that writing a short story as if it was the final chapter would force me to have to delicately balance introductions to both characters and setting with whatever climatic conflict I’ve devised.

Now, I’m sure Gaiman handles this balance beautifully. But, I’m not Neil Gaiman. Instead, I had an idea.

What if I tried writing duo short stories? First Chapter-Last Chapter?

Both will be designed to stand-alone and be complete stories, but the second will spend less time with introductions and world building and escalate the stakes.

Instead of having to write a whole middle of a novel (which is rarely anyone’s favorite part of a book and definitely the most time-consuming for the author), I can follow Gaiman’s advice and skip right to the good part while still enjoying a chance for set-up. I’m also able to share exciting new worlds without having to write a full novel.

With novels, each idea requires months if not years of work to execute on, but duo short stories can be done within a month. I tend to get bored of ideas easily and writing 10 First Chapter-Last Chapter duo short stories sounds more appealing than writing a novel.

“But wait!” I hear you say. “The climax of a novel only works because of all the build-up and adventures along the journey! Besides, while a specific portion of the middle is rarely anyone’s favorite, the bulk of the book is what people enjoy. You’d be crazy if you just read the first and last chapters of a book and felt satisfied!”

And, you’re right. My First Chapter-Last Chapter experiment has to cling far closer to short stories than to novels in style.

My goal is to create an experience somewhat akin to watching a long movie trailer. You meet the characters and set-up of the world, get a brief idea of the overall plot, and then lots of climatic action. Wham! Bang! You now know the whole movie and can save your money on a ticket.

I hope for First Chapter-Last Chapter stories to be more coherent than that.

Arguably, I could just write 8,000 word short stories with two main sections, but having two separate stories that work in tandem together sounds better to me. Maybe, I’ll realize the second story is always better and can cut the first. Or, that I should integrate them in a unique way as one story. Or, maybe I should just sit down and write the novel (the exact thing I’m lazily trying to avoid).

But there’s a chance it’ll turn out, to use the technical term, “really cool.”

It’s an experiment I want to try, but it’s also one I’m interested in hearing your opinion on, dear reader. What do you think? Does the First Chapter-Last Chapter format sound like an interesting read? Or, should I just get back to our regularly scheduled programming?

One of the benefits of Beyond Surrealism is you get to experience my writing and ideas at a far faster pace than if I was going through a publisher. Instead of locking myself in a room and writing for months with the hope someone else is willing to share my work, you get the chance to go along for the creative ride with me. I hope that makes it more fun.

Either way, thanks for hearing me out.