Tag Archives: Shape

From short story to novel

messydeskThere haven’t been any comments in days and I’m beginning to feel I’m playing to an empty room — exactly the kind of feeling I was trying to avoid by creating a website.

Nor has anyone yet requested a single copy of Perfect Justice since its completion.

Ah, well…the show must go on, right? Even if the only person left in the auditorium is the director.

I am giving some thought to expanding Perfect Justice to novel form. The novel would open with Aiden’s trial and the events leading up to the portion in the short story, and also weave together the lives of Dr. Stevenson, Marcus, and the various litigators involved in a way which makes the ending even more meaningful.

This would be my first short-story-turned-novel project, and it’s exciting because it’s the first time I thought a short story had enough to it that it was worth expanding. It’s also exciting to get a glimpse behind the curtain of that process as I begin to see what other writers did when converting a short story to book, how the foundation of having a climax already written can help shape whole chapters with ease.

1. A new challenge. 2. As if this weren’t hard enough?

editingdemotivatorfeb07_nIf you monitor the progress bars to the right (they were my primary reason for creating the whole website, if you’re wondering why I keep harping on them so), you might have already noticed I’ve got the first few scenes of Perfect Justice underway.

PROGRESS!

I was ambivalent whether to start from scratch and write the whole story over, or to simply go through and edit as I read, the way I do for drafts of completed works.

I chose something in-between.

I keep the original version up on my 2nd monitor, and write a new version based completely on the old one. Some words, lines, whole paragraphs get completely skipped. Others are reproduced word-for-word if I can’t think of a cleaner/better way to communicate the same thought.

This is a style of editing/revision I have never tried (or even considered) before, so it’s all very experimental. It has advantages, though, so I may try this again, even for projects I’m more-or-less satisfied with. It seems ruthlessly effective by freeing me emotionally from the original work in two ways:

1. The original version stays untouched, so it’s not as though I’m hacking away at an old friend.
2. The original version feels more like someone else’s work as the new version gradually takes shape, replacing the former in my heart and mind.

However, I don’t know if the new version is actually any better. The content is largely the same. But I can honestly say the new version is a lot crisper. Hopefully that means better chances of publication.

 

As if getting published weren’t hard enough

You may wonder where I get the images from; I just search images.google.com for the kind of image I’m looking for (hoping that they’re licensed for limited use and in cases where they are hosted by a site who creates images, I link back to them). You can tell I’m a big fan of demotivators, as they often capture the humorous or ironic angle of things.

I was surprised to find today’s demotivator so directly related to writing, so I checked to see where it was sourced:

www.101reasonstostopwriting.com

Woah…what?

Naturally I paid their front page a visit. I don’t have a handle on the whole site yet, but their most recent post caught my eye:

Agents and Publishers are reporting a sharp increase in unpublishable submissions.

Editors and agents interviewed for this story claim that their slushpiles have more than doubled since the 1st of December, a pattern that has been repeating and escalating for the last ten years, and no-one is sure what is causing the increase.

This strikes me two ways:

1. I haven’t been published yet. Could my work considered *gasp* among the unpublishable?

Obviously I hope not. But it seems they’re describing truly unpolished content:

An anonymous literary agent agreed: “Most of the submissions I’ve received this this week are too short to be contemporary novels. Some are only just over 50,000 words, and one I got via email was exactly 50,000, cutting off mid-sentence. Another one had ‘done for the day’ or something about going to bed every 1,600 to 1,700 words or so. It’s a lucky standout that even has an introductory paragraph before the opening.

If I left a note like that in a manuscript I would torture myself in unimaginable ways. This leads from hope to certainty that they’re not describing serious writers like myself. (Right?)

Which brings me to the conclusion:

2. All these other idiots are in my way of being published.

Editors, agents, publishers are overworked and underpaid already. With unemployment on the rise and National Novel Writer’s month last November, more and more people think writing a novel will be their ticket to stardome.

While I have no wish to rain on any else’s parade, I’ve been writing seriously for well over a decade, and from self-evaluation I do not believe my first novel is good enough to publish. I fully expect to earn my day in the sun, but writing is a career like any other, and I’m still lifting myself by proverbial bootstraps from the slums of the starving artist.

I’ll grant there may be some wild talents who score big on their first book attempt, but they’re few and far between.

Now the editor who reads my story is that much more tired, overworked, and annoyed by the time s/he even OPENS my story. Furthermore, there are increased chances that other writer of comparable or lesser talent may just have pitched a story similar enough to mine that the reader thinks, “This again? I just read a story about a dog and woman.” Even if mine was rigorous and well-written, and the other was interspersed with “I’ll finish this scene tomorrow” on the manuscript, chances are the reader will junk them both.

Rejection is hard. Particularly for those of us planning to make a lifetime career out of writing, for no other reason than this is what we are driven to do. Someone hoping to hit it big in one novel may get rejected repeatedly for that work. I’m guaranteed to get rejected for the same work repeatedly and for many different works.

If you’re serious about your writing, please do whatever it takes to get published. I applaud you and salute you on your way to success.

If you’re just filling the hours with a light hobby and hoping to win the “might get published” lottery without having spent years writing and rewriting, studying the work of others, formulating plotlines, asking advice from published writers, and so forth…it’s kind of cruel of you to clog the gears for the rest of us.