- Use the first waking moment of your day – this is often a really good time to get down some lines for your story. As soon as you wake, instead of reaching for your phone and checking your email or your retweets, scratch a few sentences into a notebook, and see what emerges from the half-conscious murk.
- What you’re after are the moments on the page that kind of make you blush, the moments that embarrass you. The uncool stuff. The places in the story that make you recoil in horror from the page – those are the good bits.
- Some of the hoary old writing advice is utterly true, such as leaving your story in a drawer for a few weeks , or a few months, before going back to it, reading it again, and gauging its true quality. And seeing what it needs to bring it up in quality.
- Some of the hoary old writing advice is utterly false, such as ‘kill your darlings’. In other words, taking out the stuff that makes you brim with pride. I’m interested in the stories where the writer has managed to get all of his or her darlings onto the page.
- Remember that first drafts are almost always dreadful or somewhere close to it. But no matter how bad the first draft, you’ll be able to tell if the characters in the story are alive or not. And the writing will improve with subsequent drafts.
- Generally, the quicker you can get the characters on the page to speak to each other, the better.
- The real secret with short stories is to write lots of them. Most stories don’t work out. Most wind up in pieces on the floor. But if you write lots of stories, maybe you’ll get some good ones. It’s no accident that the very best story writers are the ones that write shedloads of them.
Kevin Barry (born 1969) is an Irish writer from Limerick. In 2007 he won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for his short story collection There are Little Kingdoms. In 2011 he released his debut novel City of Bohane, which was followed in 2012 by his latest short story collection Dark Lies the Island.
Barry spent much of his youth traveling, accumulating 17 addresses by the time he was 36. He lived variously in Cork, Santa Barbara, Barcelona, Liverpool before settling in Sligo, purchasing and renovating a run-down RIC barracks. The decision to settle down was driven primarily by the increasing difficulty in moving large quantities of books from house to house.