So I've been working on a heroic fantasy story called Pyre's Bones, but I've been sidetracked by another quick project. I need to write a short horror story with a water and blood theme, and I need to bring it in under 2000 words.
Once upon a time, this wouldn't have been difficult; I could start with nothing at all, generate an outline, and wrap up a solid draft ~4000 words long in under eight hours (with a one-hour break for lunch). But that was a particular skill level, and I've learned more since then. I'm still integrating some new techniques for story design and narrative composition, so I'm slower. Much, much slower.
I wrote three concept development documents, averaging 1100 words each. This got me far enough that I could craft the outline. This document is 750 words. Now I need to write up a few more docs. The Location Scout essay will be the easy one; this method has already proven itself. The Character-to-Setting Hooks will be harder, because I built this tool for Pyre's Bones, and that story isn't done. I've no idea if it works.
The idea behind the Character-to-Setting Hooks is that I'm more engaged, as a reader, by those characters who care about multiple aspects of their setting. The character might care for any of a few reasons, and more than one aspect is required. I have two settings on stage in this story (a submarine and the ocean floor) and two off-stage settings (the underwater research base and a military base way up on the surface).
I cannot make four settings vibrant parts of a 2,000 word short story. I'll be lucky to mention the off-stage locations, let alone establish them as vibrant. I can reference concerns about them, maybe, as the characters on the page demonstrate that they care about the home base and the military base. The key here is demonstration; I'm not sure how feasible that'll be.
Also, I have a character demand problem. In most of my stories, I keep my cast list pretty small. Here, I've got an active submarine with a full crew. Even if I can pull a Star Trek maneuver and relegate the bulk of the crew to backdrop status, I'm stuck with everyone on the command deck. My protag is the captain, my antag is in the ocean, and the everyone else is the stake. Some of "everyone else" will be secondary characters, enemies and allies of the captain. That's my bridge crew.
2000 freakin' words. This'll be interesting.