#53: Avoiding Repetition in Episodic Work

Hi Story Nurse,

I’m working on a series of short stories that follow the same set of characters. Each story is about 5,000 words and needs to stand alone as an episode: a conflict needs to be introduced, the characters need to react to that conflict, and some kind of resolution should happen by the end of the story.

As I write more stories, I’m noticing that the way I introduce the conflict of the month is getting repetitive. Since this series follows the crew of a spaceship as they do odd jobs across the galaxy, each story starts with them either getting a new job or picking up a distress call.

I feel like I’m endlessly repeating the scifi equivalent of “So this dame walked into my office…” How do I vary the way I introduce the conflict that sets a new story in motion?

—Keeping It Fresh (she/her)

Dear Keeping It Fresh,

This type of challenge crops up a lot in episodic work. Fortunately, that means there are some well-established ways to handle it. Continue reading