Tag Archives: submissions

Three for One

This week was a little rough for me, writing wise. I actually finished the story for this week on Sunday, the first day of the week. It was only 800 words, and it was about a girl who was locked in an asylum because she tried to kill herself. Her reason was because she thought she had been impregnated by aliens and she was doing it to save the world. After a while she started to think that maybe the doctors were right, and that she was delusional. Of course, the way my mind works I couldn’t leave it that way. The last sentence of the story is “And then the baby kicked.”

On Monday, I finished editing the fairy story I was working on last week, but in the end I decided I didn’t want to submit it. I’m just not happy with the results, and I think it is going to need a lot more time and rewrites than I can give it before the end of the month. So I returned it to the back burner and we’ll let it simmer a while longer.

Since I finished the editing, I had to figure out what to do next. What I decided was that I would just go ahead and start another story. About a slice of cheese rotting on the sidewalk. That one was finished on Thursday. Friday and Saturday I worked on yet another story, about a woman who goes up and down the street collecting aluminum cans from the trash bins in order to buy toys for the little kids in the neighborhood.

So there you have it. Three stories in one week. I won’t say that any of them are any good, but at least I kept writing. I’ve still got my chain going on the Magic Spreadsheet, even though I haven’t been able to write the full 400 words per day for Friday and Saturday. I did, however, manage to write at least 250, which is all that the spreadsheet requires.

I’m not sure what I’m going to write this week, but I had a thought about an opening line last week and I might just try it. “The only thing better than sex is dirty sex.” What do you think? I’ll be back next week to let you know how it went.


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Ahead of Schedule

As you might have guessed from the title of today’s post, I finished this week’s story early. It was about a man who was cursed to be homeless and destitute until he found someone else who was just as greedy and uncaring as he was. I actually wrapped it up on Thursday, which meant I had two whole days to use on something else.

The problem was that I wasn’t sure what I should work on. I knew I needed to work on something so I could keep my chain going on the Magic Spreadsheet (over 100 days now!), but I didn’t want to start a new story early.

A while ago, one of my writer friends told me about a possible home for story 26, which had to do with a kid going exploring in the woods and ending up in the hands of the fairies. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try submitting the story to them, because they won’t pay for the story, but since I had a couple of days free I thought maybe I could start editing it, just on case.

The problem that then came up was how do I track my words for the Spreadsheet when a lot of what I am doing is cutting words out instead of adding them? On Friday, I started working without really thinking about it, and I added a bunch of words and then cut out a lot more before I counted the ones I had added. I ended up with 419 words less than I had started with, which was the number I used on the Spreadsheet.

Yesterday I was a little more careful. Instead of cutting the words as I went, instead I blacked them out until I was done. I then was able to keep an accurate count of the words I added (483) before I started deleting.

I’ve still got plenty of editing to do on the story, but now it’s time to start a new one. I might keep working on the edits if I have the energy, but I’m not really worried about it. If I don’t make the September 30 deadline for submissions it won’t be the end of the world.

That’s all I have for today. I’ll be back next week with another update.

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Trimming the Fat

There are several things that I could talk about with a title like this one. I could talk about starting a diet, which I certainly need to do. Somehow I managed to let myself gain back almost all of the weight that I lost a few years ago. It just kind of snuck up on me, a couple of pounds a week, until this week when I had to break out my XXXL shirts again. Naughty writer! I also need to cut back on driving in to work and commit to riding my bike more often. I mean, really! The main route I take is only three miles, with very few hills. The only excuse I have not to ride is when it is raining, and that’s a pretty flimsy excuse considering the number of times I rode my bike in bad weather when I didn’t have a car.

Another thing I could talk about is something all writers need to do, and most don’t enjoy—editing. Getting the first draft down on paper is good, and we all want to make it as good as we can get it the first time around, but any writer that tries to publish that first draft usually finds out that it isn’t as good as they might think it is. I recommend a second or even third draft before handing it over to a professional editor, who will tell you how much it still sucks, and give you a chance to redeem your failures before it goes public. Most of the stories that I have written so far are still in the first draft stage. The ones that I have spent more time on have only gone through a second or third draft, and none of them have gone to the pro. Not even the one that I got published, and believe me, I could kick myself for not doing so. The only excuse I have for not spending more time on it is that I had a deadline.

But let’s get away from that and start talking about what I really wanted to say tonight. In order to spend more time on my writing I need to trim out some of the other things that take up time in my busy life. For example, sleep. Actually, I’m kidding about that. What I have been cutting down on is watching television. I still record some of my favorite shows, but I confess that I have been letting them pile up on my DVR without watching them. Another thing that I have been considering cutting back on is this blog post. I am thinking about only posting one time per week, probably on Sunday. That way I will be able to give everyone an update on each of my latest Dirty Little Freaks stories right after they are finished, and I will have the rest of the week to write the next one without worrying about what I am going to post on my blog on Wednesday.

What kind of fat are you trimming from your life recently? What are your inspirations for doing so? Is there any way we might be able to help each other keep on the right track? I would love to hear your comments, and I’ll be back with another blog post next Sunday.

Oh, and by the way, my latest Dirty Little Freaks story (# 23) is finished. It may have been inspired by Hogan’s Heroes, but I’m not sure how well I captured the feel of the show. But that’s okay, because that is what editing is for, right?

See you next week!

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WisCon Writing Contest

On my first day at WisCon I discovered that the person who organized the Odyssey Con spontaneous writing contest also set one up for WisCon. So, of course, I had to at least attempt to participate. Since I hadn’t seen the e-mail before the con I knew I had little chance of actually being a part of it, but I thought it would be worth it to at least show up and see what happened.

To make a long story short, I got in. I decided that I didn’t care whether I won or not, so I would just treat it as a writing exercise. They provided six lines of dialogue and I decided to use them all as the start of my story and just go on from there. I also decided not to name the characters or use any kind of attribution. I was thinking about a writer’s podcast I had heard last year that spoke about how the reader should be able to tell the speaker by the dialogue if it is written correctly, so I tried to write each speaker with their own voice. I’m not sure how well I did, but I’ll let you judge for yourself. Below is my entry.

Mission Control

 “Picking anything up yet?”

“Nothing human. Coupla cats.”

“How do you know they’re cats?”

“How do you know they’re cats? If it looks like a cat and meows like a cat, it’s a cat. These guys think like cats.”

“And different from dogs, yeah?”

“Just like the difference between red and blue. Besides, they’re both normally like, uh, I dunno, a soft glow … until something lights ’em up. But it takes different things to do it. Cats light up when they see some kind of small critter they can chase, but dogs only do it for people. In f…. Oh, wait! What’s that now?”

“What? Let me see!”

“Don’t get your panties in a twist. Give me a second to focus in.”

“Is it them?”

“Not sure. Could be. Here, take a look.”

“They’re big enough to be human. But how can we tell if they’re the guys we’re looking for?”

“Let’s see what happens when they see the bait. If they light up, we’ve got ‘em.”

“What are you using for bait?”

“Like I said, they think like cats, so they’re looking for something small that they can hunt. But they’re bigger than cats, so they’re gonna want something a little bigger. Hang on, I think they spotted it.”

“That? Oh my god, what did you – you didn’t!”

“I told you, they needed something to hunt.”

“But it’s a child! How could you?”

“Don’t worry, we won’t let them hurt it. Besides, they like to play with their food first.”

“They play with it? That’s sick!”

“That’s why we’re here. We’ll get ‘em before they hurt the kid.”

“We better.”

“You worry too much.”

“I can’t help it. I’d like to have kids myself someday, you know.”

“You? Yeah, right! That’s rich. Carlos, they’re on the move. Get your team into position.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just that I have never thought of you as the parenting type. You’re always focused on the job. I bet you don’t even date, do you? Well?”

“All right! I admit it. I haven’t made a lot of time for myself recently, but that doesn’t mean –“

“When’s the last time you went out on a date?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“Come on. You can tell me. I promise it won’t leave this room. Get ready, Carlos, they’re almost at your position.”

“Well… fine. The last time I was out on a date was right after I graduated from the Academy.”

“After… Holy crap, that was, like, eight years ago! No wonder you’re wound up so tight.”

“I am not!”

“Oh, please! You walk around like you’ve got a broomstick rammed up your ass. Ramrod straight and ready to snap.”

“… I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Where are our targets?”

“Don’t worry about them. Carlos took them down ten seconds ago. And look. There’s the kid, safe and sound.”

“So is it them?”

“Just a sec. Scan results are coming in now. DNA…Kirlian…Psychotron…. Yep, we’ve got ‘em!”


“How long have you been after these guys?”

“Three years.”

“Wow. Must be a relief for it to be over.”

“You have no idea.”

“So what are you going to do now?”

“I’m not sure. Whatever the Director wants, I guess.”

“Can I make a suggestion?”


“Take some time off. It doesn’t have to be long, but it wouldn’t kill you to take a vacation.”

“I don’t know…”

“Just think about it. I usually take a couple weeks off between gigs myself. I’m planning on taking my boat out for a tour of the islands.”

“That sounds nice.”

“Damn straight. Nothing but the wind and the waves for two whole weeks. If that doesn’t recharge your batteries, nothing will. So what do you say?”

“Are you inviting me to come with you?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Because we work together, that’s why!”

“That’s the worst excuse I’ve ever heard. You know damn well that interpersonal relationships are allowed. And besides, I think we work well together, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah.”

“So think of it as a team-building exercise. There’s nothing like sailing to get people more in sync with each other.”


“Come on! It’ll be fun!”

“All right! It’s a date.”

“Okay! You won’t regret it.”

“I had better not. Now let’s get this mission wrapped up. I’ve got to go shopping for a swimsuit.”

“Yes sir!”

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Filed under Conventions, Fiction, The Writing Experience

Odyssey Con 13: Steer Trek

Today is the last day of Odyssey Con (or OddCon, for those who know it well). It was nice being able to spend some time connecting with my fellow geeks. The highlight, of course, was being able to spend three days with two of my favorite authors, Alex Bledsoe and Kevin Hearne. They signed some books for my collection, as well as a couple for my son Nate, who couldn’t make it this year.

I also entered the Spontaneous Writing Contest yesterday morning. Let me start by saying that it was definitely organized better than last year. The rules were that you had to sign up in advance to get a spot on the list, and then the first eight people (in registration order) that were physically present at 8:30 AM in the hotel lobby were given a flash drive. That drive contained an .RTF file with four lines of dialogue that had to be used in a story. Each contestant then had one hour to write their story and turn it in. I was fourth on the list, so I was assured a spot as long as I was there (and, of course, I was). The drives were each lettered, in order to keep the author anonymous and keep the contest fair.

Here are the lines of dialogue that we were given to work with.

“Not a one!”
“What!? Most of them never did anything wrong even on their own planet, let alone here.”
“You’re not hearing me, and I’m not going to say it again. Not. A. Single. One!”
“With all due respect, ma’m …”

We could alter them if we needed to, but any changes would count against us. Putting other text between the lines was no problem, though, and most of the authors (including myself) did so. I managed to write about 800 words in the allotted hour, and I felt pretty good about it. At least, until they posted the entries in the hallway for everyone to read. There were some nice stories there. And I overheard one of the judges talking to one of the other contestants about the merits of some of the OTHER stories. Needless to say, I began to have some doubts about my own work. My biggest worry was that, despite the reference to another planet in one of the lines of dialogue, I decided not to take the easy route and write a science fiction story about aliens from another world. Instead, I wrote about a murder investigation at a science fiction convention. It’s titled “A Killer Con”, and here it is, for your reading pleasure.

The trouble with these guys was that they seemed to think that the rules of normal society didn’t apply to them. To be fair, though, their own concepts of morality and ethics was sometimes a whole lot better than what the rest of us lived by. Still, there was a dead body in the hotel, and it was up to me to find out why.

“All right,” I said to the con rep that I had cornered, “we’re going to be here until I get some answers, so start talking.”

We had commandeered one of the rooms for the duration, in order to lock down the hotel until we had a chance to question the three hundred suspects that were still wandering the halls as if nothing had happened. The queen sized bed that took up most of the room distracted a bit from my interrogation techniques, but I tried to ignore it as we sat at the little work table in the corner.

“Well, like I told the officer earlier, we were just wrapping up the afternoon anime movie and as they left the room one of the kids complained to the AV guy about a nasty smell.”

“And nobody had noticed anything before then?”

“Not really. I don’t know if you have ever been to a convention like this before, but some of our attendees aren’t so good with personal hygiene, if you know what I mean.”

I grimaced. I couldn’t imagine going without at least a shower if I was going to go out in public. “Go on.”

“He went in to check it out, in case someone had gotten sick or something in there. And that’s when he found the body.”

His story checked out with what I had already gotten from the uniforms. “All right, so who was this guy?”

He shook his head. “No idea. I mean, his name was Jerry Dantillo, but nobody really knows him. He hasn’t been to the con before, and he wasn’t pre-registered. We think he was probably just some local guy who heard about the con and decided to check it out.”

“So nobody knows this guy, which means nobody has any reason to want him dead, is that it?”

“Not a one!”

I frowned. “That just doesn’t make any sense. You don’t get a nine-inch dagger through your heart without pissing someone off.” I planted my hands on either side of the little table and leaned over him. “I don’t really care what planet you guys think you’re from, but that sort of thing doesn’t fly in my town.”

Unfortunately, I had underestimated the sheer level of geekery I was dealing with. My intimidation technique was totally useless when he was more interested in my cleavage than my comment. I glared at him and sat back down in my chair, crossing my arms over my chest.

He looked up at my scowling face and flushed. “What!? Most of them never did anything wrong even on their own planet, let alone here.”

“Well, I’ve got a dead body that says otherwise. And nobody is leaving here until I find out who did it. So somebody had better start talking. Who here would think that this guy would be better off dead?”

“You’re not hearing me, and I’m not going to say it again. Not. A. Single. One!”

I threw up my arms in frustration. “Fine. Be that way. But this con is over. For good.”

“With all due respect, ma’m …”

I snorted. “Respect? You seem to have more respect for my breasts than for my job.” He ducked his head like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “I’m trying to help you out here, but you’ve got to meet me halfway.”

He raised his head and looked me in the eye. “You don’t understand. We have a strict weapons policy at the convention. No real weapons are allowed. Ever. And we have a security staff that keeps an eye out for those things. They check every single costume to make sure nobody has any real blades, or guns, or whatever. There’s no way that knife would have gotten past them.”

I leaned back in my chair. “Well, then I guess that narrows down the suspects, doesn’t it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Vigilat qui custodem,” I said, getting up to open the door. “Who watches the watchmen? I need to speak to your security staff.”

His face blanched.

I ushered him out the door and gestured for one of the uniforms to join me. If I was right, there was no way I was going to be caught alone in a room for this interrogation.

Not too bad, right? Needs a little work, but most first drafts do. Especially ones that were written under a one hour deadline. But in the end, it wasn’t quite good enough, and I didn’t win. However, I may keep working on this story over the next week. I can extend it out, through the interrogation of the security guard  and on to the revelation of the killer and resolution of the mystery.

I’ll give you an update on Wednesday to let you know how it’s going. Until then, live long and prosper!

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Filed under Conventions, Submissions, The Writing Experience

Working Draft

In case you were wondering, the term “Working Draft” is one I just made up. I don’t know if anybody else has ever thought about this or not, but here’s my definition:

A working draft is the preliminary writing an author will do in order to get a better feel for his story. The majority of the work is often discarded when the writer has a firm understanding of how the final story needs to be written.

This is what I did with the short story I just finished. I sat down and started writing, not really caring what was going on the page, just getting some words out and seeing where it went. And by the time I had five hundred words down I had decided that I knew what the story was, so I stopped.  I jotted down some notes for a quick summary of what I wanted the final draft to be, and then I started over.

It worked. I now had a handle on who my character was and what was going on in his life. I knew what was going to happen to him and where he was going to end up. And the final draft was fairly easy to write from there.

There were some points where I had to stop and think while I was writing. Not really about where the story was going, but about how I was going to tell it. But my summary helped me figure it out without too much delay and stress, and I ended up with close to three thousand words (most of it written last night).

I’m not sure how good it is, but that’s up to an editor to decide. I’ll probably end up tweaking it some more before I use it for a submission, but that’s pretty normal.

I think I’m going to continue to use this process for these stories for a while. It seems to work out well for me. I just have to make sure I start the work a little earlier in the week from now on. Last week I didn’t start my working draft until Thursday morning. The actual writing didn’t get started until Friday night, and then, like I said, most of it got done Saturday night.

I’ll see you again on Wednesday. But before I go, let me leave you with a little tip that popped into my head this morning:

If you don’t already have a pet, get one. It looks a lot better when you talk to an animal than when you talk to yourself. 😉


Filed under The Writing Experience

Trying to find Balance

One of the hardest things for me as a writer is finding a balance. I’m not talking about balancing plot points and character development, although that is difficult as well as important. No, what I am speaking of is finding a balance between my writing and the rest of my life.

Part of being a writer is opening yourself up to the rest of the world. You have to share a vital part of yourself in order to engage the reader. The tricky part is figuring out which part, and how much you can show. Show too much, too soon, and people will think you are overeager. Show the wrong parts, and people will get bored, or angry.

Kind of like being an exotic dancer.

Think about it. If you went to a strip club and the dancer showed you the goods right off the bat, you would be a little disappointed, wouldn’t you? After all, part of the show is the “reveal”, and you can’t have a reveal if you never cover it up in the first place. And if the dancer never showed you anything, you would be just as upset. After all, you paid good money for this show, and there are certain expectations about what is going to happen when you get inside.

Okay, now this analogy is starting to get me off-balance. See what I mean?

What I am trying to say here is that I am having trouble reconciling my personal life with my writing. I have certain, deep-seated beliefs that frequently conflict with the things that I write. There are many times when the words that come out of my head make me uncomfortable, because they aren’t the kinds of things that I believe I should be writing. And yet, there they are.

I’ll come right out and say it. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Otherwise known as the Mormons. Yes, the same church that Mitt Romney belongs to (even though I think he’s a bad example of our faith).

One of the tenets of being a member of my church is living the law of chastity. That means so much more than just not having sex. It also means avoiding pornography and keeping your lustful passions confined to the marriage bed. And it means that when I start writing about sex and use four letter words in my stories I am either walking a fine line or stepping over the edge. And that’s what makes me uncomfortable.

This is tough for me. On the one hand, I’m not being unfaithful to my lovely wife. I’m not even looking at dirty pictures on the Internet. But when I write about other people having sex, it’s like letting a fantasy out of my head. And it’s probably not a fantasy I should be having in the first place, much less share with the rest of the world.

What makes it even more difficult is that I know for a fact that there is a huge market for erotica out there, and writing about sex would be an excellent way for me to make enough money to keep the hounds at bay. An important consideration in this economy.

Last week I announced my “Dirty Little Freaks” project, and I said that it would possibly contain some erotica. To be honest, I’m rethinking that decision, for the reasons I have just stated. I started the series with an introduction to the narrator, Boomer. I wrote it as a one-legged midget who uses his “other leg” to make up for the missing one. He used words that I would never use in public (or in private, for that matter).

I don’t think I like this guy. I think he needs to go away.

But that means that I need to come up with something to replace him. I kind of liked the idea of a dirty little freak introducing the stories as tales of the strange and unusual that he came across in his travels around the world. But that also means I would be limited to stories set in the modern age, and on this planet, and it may be better to open the floodgates a little wider and give myself some more room to play.

I was thinking that doing this series would be a good way to have some stories on file for possible submission to assorted magazines and anthologies. And the more different types of stories I have, the more options I have to present to editors.

Pardon my rambling. I find that I have a tendency to start on one topic and end on another. I hope you guys don’t mind. And this post is getting a bit long-winded, so I had better wrap it up anyway.

But first, a few other things that I need to say about my struggles with balance.

A few years ago I made a commitment to lose weight. I started at 320 pounds and by the time I was done (about a year and a half later), I was down to 175 pounds. I was proud of myself, and I swore I wouldn’t let myself get that fat again.

I broke that promise. I am back up to 290 pounds, and I have to say that part of the reason for the weight gain is the hedonistic lifestyle of being a writer. I have splurged on unhealthy food and gone out to eat at restaurants when I should have been dining at home. I have enjoyed cake and candy when I should have been sticking to carrots and celery. I have stopped exercising, and my bike (which I used to rely on as my main mode of transportation) is rusting in my basement.

I’m sick of it. I hate what I have let myself become and I have made a resolution this year to get back on my diet and start dropping the pounds again. I have started logging my food intake again and I am trying to keep my calories under control. I plan on getting my bike to the shop for an overhaul this spring so I can start riding to work again.

The diet and exercise will also be taking time away from my writing, which will make it more difficult for me to meet my writing goals, but it is more important to me right now for me to get back to a healthy lifestyle.

This is the balance that I am trying to find. Balance between my faith and my words. Between my diet and my urges. Between my health and my writing.

Life is all about finding balance. I am working on finding some in my life. How are you doing in yours?


Filed under About Me, The Writing Experience

September 19 – My First Rejection

I got an e-mail last Thursday (after my last blog post) to let me know that my short story “The Hunt” was “not quite what they were after for the anthology.”

Believe it or not, I was actually a bit relieved. The story needs work, as Monica and Alex pointed out to me at our workshop last weekend. So this gives me a chance to do some more edits before I send it out again. I haven’t started on those edits yet, but I do expect to work on it this week.

In other news, I haven’t done very well on my diet yet. I gained another two pounds since last week. I’m not concerned. I know from past experience that dieting is a process. I don’t expect to have instant results. But this does give me added incentive to follow through. I’ll be much more careful about my food intake this week, and hopefully I will at least be able to report next week that I haven’t gone up again.

Finally, my plans for this week are to outline at least one of my novels. I want to start with my new series idea, but if I get stuck on that one I will probably take a break and work on the outline for the edits for one of my books that still need editing.

I should probably do some writing as well. The question is: what should I write? I don’t have any story ideas that are ready to start. I could just start going and see where it takes me, but then there is more of a chance that the story will fall apart midstream, like the last two seem to have done.

Maybe if I start my outline with one of my finished novels I can start working on them. The ideas I had for the changes are more rewriting than simple editing. It’s almost like I will be starting over from scratch.

The other option is for me to work on one of the scenes for my new series. My ensemble group of characters needs an origin story, and I think that might be a good place to start.

Feel free to comment if you have any ideas about this. How do you usually start working on your stories? Do you outline or do you just start writing and see where it goes? If you don’t outline, how clear are your ideas before you start writing?

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back on Thursday for another update.

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Filed under About Me, Submissions, The Writing Experience

September 5 – Labor Day

Sorry for the late post today. Even though I started this morning bright and early with the start of a new short story, I only got a few paragraphs into it before stopping. I didn’t get back to it until just a couple of hours ago, and only managed another couple of paragraphs before putting it away again.

I was just feeling lazy today. I’m celebrating Labor Day here in Wisconsin, like most of the people in America. It’s a holiday that celebrates the common worker, and it is thanks to the unions that it is a nationwide holiday. Yes, the same unions that are now being dismantled and criminalized by Republican politicians across the country. Even though I am not a dues-paying member of a union, I am represented by one, and take full advantage of the protections they provide me in the workplace. That’s why the attitude I see by politicians and short-sighted voters makes me sick.

Okay, that’s enough of that soapbox. The other reason for the late posting is that I was hoping to have an answer on my last submission by now. Unfortunately there’s no word yet. I’m still hoping I make the cut and will have my second story published soon, but there is still almost a month before the deadline (September 30) so I’m sure there are many more stories that they will have to review before making their final choices. I know that my friend Zombie Joe is working on a submission as well, and I want to wish him luck. Hopefully I’ll get to hear his first draft tomorrow night at our critique group.

I’m not sure where the story I started this morning is going. I had a dream this morning that got me started, and I think I know where I want it to end, but there is an enormous gaping hole in the middle that I need to fill. So somebody pass me the shovel. I’ve got to get back to work.

See you again on Thursday!

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Filed under Politics, Submissions, The Writing Experience

August 25 – Working the Story

Revisions, revisions, revisions….

Editing is tough. Taking your first draft and covering it in enough red ink to make it look like a low-budget horror movie isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to look at the story in many different ways.

What are the strengths of the plot? Are there any weak points that need to be strengthened? Are there any pieces that don’t need to be there at all?

Does the character development flow throughout the piece? What do they learn at the end?

Is there enough tension throughout the story? Are there any parts that are too slow or feel boring?

What about the little things? How is the spelling? Are there any words missing? Are there any words repeated close together? How about punctuation and grammar?

These (and more) are all things that need to be reviewed when you are editing. I meet with a critique group every week. We read our stories out loud while the others read along. When we finish, they give feedback, which the author can use to answer some of those questions.

This week I read my “final” version of my story to the group. They all agreed that it was much better than the previous versions, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have suggestions. I still came away with comments on every page of the manuscript. So now I can take those ideas and work the story one last time before I submit it.

And yes, I do mean ONE last time. Editing always has a point of diminishing returns. Most authors probably think that even published works could use another pass or two of editing. I have heard comments from several famous writers that they wish they could tweak their story just a little bit more.

But sometimes you just have to say “enough is enough”. Sometimes that is when you hit your deadline. Sometimes it is when you just can’t stand to look at the story anymore. My published story, “Losing Control”, was submitted on the day of the deadline. This story, “The Hunt”, still has a month to go before the deadline, but I am getting tired of looking at it. So I am giving myself one last chance to make it better before sending it off into the world. And if it comes back to me with a rejection slip I will think about tweaking it again before sending it somewhere else.

Some authors like the editing process. Some hate it. As for myself, I think I’m kind of in the middle. I like the way the story grows stronger as I edit, but it is a lot of hard work that I wish I didn’t have to do. And I’m not a good enough writer to be able to make the first draft worthy of being the final draft. Yet.

So good luck with your editing! I’m going to try to finish mine this weekend, and then I have to figure out what my next project will be. I’m thinking that I should either start editing my Dragons At Dawn book again, or start figuring out what I am going to be writing for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Let me know if you are going to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year and I’ll be your writing buddy. We can give each other encouragement while we pound away at the keyboard and overdose on coffee shops and late night word sprints.

See you Monday!

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Submissions, The Writing Experience