Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Something New

Last night I finished the critique I've been working on for a friend and fellow writer, and sent that off.

And then I had a strange picture in my head about a brick wall. You know those old ruins you see occasionally where just the brick chimney is still standing, or part of a wall, usually the corner of a structure, is refusing to fall? Well, I had a picture of a small church front wall, ruined by time and vandals, standing against the efforts of the wind to blow it down - strangely with the tattered remains of the doors still in place.

So I started writing with no idea what would come out past the description of this wall. The first draft of a 1000 word piece is done. I'm not happy with one paragraph and I want to expand on something else so there's still work to do, but I may have something for the AHWA flash fiction contest. I'm going to revise Digging Up The Past and submit that to the AHWA short story section of the comp. We'll see how things play out.

Today I want to finalise my assignment and print it ready for posting tomorrow. I'll also be looking at revisions for Digging and this new, currently untitled, flash piece.

I've come to the conclusion I'm still striving to find my voice as a writer, and I'm still searching for the correct vehicle. I think that now I'm writing more about Australian based settings, I'm feeling more comfortable. I still write in European and American settings occasionally, but I now look at an Australian setting first. Writing 4000+ words in a story is still easier for me than writing under a 1000. Writing a scene in 2-3000 words is becoming second nature when I'm in longer version mode, i.e. Novel Mode.

I think 3rd person is my preferred POV, but I've experimented with 1st in this new flash piece and quite enjoyed it. Maybe 1st for the really short stuff and 3rd for longer work??

I've had a number of editors now tell me my work is well written - usually in a personalised rejection letter, but, even if the work isn't right for the market, it's nice to have confirmation I can write. So I'm going to try and put the insecurities aside in that department.

I can write, but I rarely write well without feedback.

This is how I work: I write out the first draft. I then sit on it and do some revision before anyone has seen it. Then my wife reads it and points out anything she sees as good or bad or anything else. I let it sit and then revise again. Then I need to send it to the almighty Pharo. This is a friend I've cultivated from an online crit group. Pharo is a guru in the use of English, and finds all my mistakes, and makes excellent suggestions dealing with plot and premise. I revise again. Then it needs to go to my beta readers. I revise again. So by now I'm up to version 5 or more of the work in progress. It's guaranteed that it's 100 times better than the original piece I wrote while still being my work, my idea, my voice. It goes to market and may be revised more times if rejected depending on editors comments and my rereading of it after months of not seeing it.

When I get my first book published, the dedication will go to my family for all they've put up with, but there will be a thank you page, and all the people mentioned above will be on it. The thank you page in the first published book will probably be quite long (if I can get away with it).

What process do you go through to prepare your masterpieces for entry into the world? Is it version 1 or 2 that you send out, or 5, 6 or 7?


  1. For some reason, some stories spring from my head "fully formed" and only need a revison or two to check for minor issues.

    Some stories take a year's worth of revisions.

  2. I write the story, Ying edits it, and then I implement the edits. Sometimes I realize I want to change something and tinker with the story a little before submitting it. Mentally, on the other hand, I can fixate for days on the plot, characters, etc. In some cases, the story I end up writing is drastically different than the original version(s).

  3. My process is kind of the same. First draft, revise, Margo reads it, revise and then try to find betas or other people to read it.

    I used to have a crit group but it closed down because people weren't producing work consistently.

    Your story idea sounds cool.

    As an aside, I noticed I'm off the blogs you read list. Guess I should blog more about writing, huh?

  4. I echo Aaron's comment. I've sent stories out with very little editing and others that have had several drafts before I send them out and more on top of that when I've received personal feedback from editors.

    Strangely, some of my most successful stories (those that have sold to the first market I've sent them to that also happen to be excellent magazines/anthos) have gone out with very little editing.

  5. For those of you that write, sign and send - I hate you.

    Just kidding. I wish I was like you. Getting anything near a good story takes more pain and agony then pulling teeth when I do it.

    Ben - sorry, mate. I am seriously looking forward to reading some published work by you, but the political side of things, not so much.

  6. I am with Aaron. Some stories go through dozens of revision, changing little things here and there as I go. Others go through one or two and get sent off.

    Good post today.