Begin Again

So I had to write a story.

OK, I didn’t have to, but there was a call for submissions I wanted to, um, submit to, which meant I had to write a story to do so.

The story started out one way. And sure, it was a nifty enough story, but it didn’t fit the call for submission. So I scrapped it.

Try #2: I got a good five thousand word story out of it, but it felt weak. And, again, it didn’t fit the call. That meant it would likely get rejected. Try again.

Try #3: Finally! I’ve got a good character, a good plot, it fits the call, looks good.

But it really needs some work. Subplot B needs to get moved over here, and subplot C should probably just get dropped.

About five drafts later I finally send it out.

All right. Time to get back to work. And to the novel series I go! And so I labored on book 2 of that series for a while, doing a pretty hefty revision. I finish book 2. Start book 3.

Oh, look, another shiny call for submission! I think I can do that!

So I start pumping out a story.

Oh. No. Forget that. Start over.

Try #2: Better! I change the gender of the protagonist and add in some more complications.

Ugh. No. The gender is better this way, but those complications are just messing things up. So I’m currently working through another pretty major revision. And once I’m done with this story, it’s back to book 3 in that series.

Why am I sharing all this?

Look, writing is work. Some people can make it look so easy. Maybe you read through what I’ve published, and you think, “Wow! Look at all that! That’s awesome!”

First, made-up person in my head, thank you for that kind compliment!

Second, it doesn’t come out just like that. Yes, my creativity muscles have been moving and I can pump out characters and plots and settings with relative ease.

Characters and plots and settings are not stories. They are elements of stories, yes, but they are only elements.

Telling a story takes work. It takes insane amounts of effort and concentration.

Does this character have a good voice? What about that first line – does it catch attention well enough? Do the story and the plot match, or do they conflict too much? Am I telegraphing the ending, and if I am, is that a good thing? Are there enough complications? Too many? Does the story begin in the right place? Does it end at the right place?

And what that means is that, especially in short stories, I may do total rewrites several times before I get to the place where I actually start honing the story that’s there. Especially since I’m trying to sell these stories, I want to make sure I’m providing a good product.

Do you want to be a writer? Awesome!

Don’t think it’s just slapping words on a page and then being done. It takes a lot more effort than that. As Hemingway said, “Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” And then look at your blood and try to make it better. And then do it again. And again.

I do have a second reason for sharing all this,though.

I… may be a bit ADHD when it comes to my writing. There’s a reason I do a lot of short stories: I can write and polish a short story in about a week. Novels take a lot more work!

And there’s three more calls for short story submissions I really want to write for…


All right. Enough with the blogging. Back to the short story and then back to the novel.

Published by Jon

Jon lives in Kentucky with his wife and an insanity of children. (A group of children is called an insanity. Trust me.)

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