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First Draft

February 9, 2010

So, I have this giddy, cloud-nine, can’t-keep-me-down feeling.

I finished that short story I’ve been working on.

I didn’t finish it in the time-frame I’d originally been planning or hoping, but nonetheless it is now done.  And I’m very proud of it.  Which is not to say that it is not without its flaws.  It clocks in at almost 10,000 words – a couple thousand more than I had intended.  I seem to have this ongoing problem with short-form fiction.  Whatever the flaws, it’s hard to state, precisely, what they all are from where I stand, now.  I feel like it’s a pretty good story.  I’d enjoy it if I was reading it.  The real question is: will anyone else?

That’s the next step, now.  I’ll be looking for a few folks who might have the time and who might be able to, with a critical eye, give the story a read and tell me honestly where they thing the major flaws or weak points are.  I can’t make this request of the general public – I’m not sure that making the story generally available isn’t any different than “publishing”, which if done would decrease the value of the story.  But I’ll be asking a few friends.  The danger of asking friends, of course, is that they are frequently incented, vis-a-vis their personal relationship with the writer, to issue generally positive feedback.  But I’ve known people who were not afraid to lay it out like it is to their friends.  Sometimes that criticism is hard to take, but it’s important if I’m to improve.

Once I get this in the hands of a few critique-readers, I’ll concern myself with what comes next.  Once reviewed and critiqued, I have a chance to polish off the draft with any changes that can improve it.  Then I’ll write a cover letter and send it in.  I’ve read pros and cons to submitting simultaneously to multiple markets, but even though it takes longer, I can wait it out one-at-a-time.  I’ve decided who I intend to send it off to first (a magazine I’m most familiar with), but I’ll probably have to start researching a second and third option once I’ve sent it in, just in case I receive a rejection (as good as I think this story is, a rejection is still the most probable scenario; it would not be a commentary on the value of the story so much as on the lack of time on the part of most editors to give it a solid read-through).  Once it’s as good as I can write it, there’s nothing else I can do but wait.

While the my critique-readers are hard at work reading, I expect I’ll shortly be getting to work on the next story.  I already have two ideas for stories I want to write – one is based on some experiences I had several years ago (but with a certain fantastic element) while another extrapolates from a timely political and social series of events.  The timely piece is likely the one I shall tackle first, simply because it is more relevant now than it might be in a few years.  The other story has been simmering in the back of my mind for a long time but I’m really itching to give it a try.  Besides these, I’ve got another finished short story draft that, if worked over like the story I just finished, might be a worthwhile tale.  It has some huge weaknesses right now, but there’s some element of value in it, overall, I think.  Then I have a concept plus the first paragraph of another story that I never finished.  For all of these, I’d apply the process I’ve developed on this current story rewrite.  Working out the characters and their motivations and the details of the plot based on that really gave me a solid framework for executing this story.  In fact, I’ve already jotted down a few notes about characters in both the story options I am currently considering.

Overall, I’m excited.

Happy Writing.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2010 8:38 am

    Hi! Congratulations on finishing that first draft! That is, indeed, a great feeling that all of us out here understand.

    If you have a minute, I invite you to visit my blog, where I’ve been writing a lot lately about the editing/revision cycles necessary for successful fiction. If you scan the headings within my posts since November 4, you’ll see the sections that might be useful to you.

    Good luck as you move forward. I’d love to hear from you.

    All the best,

    • February 9, 2010 8:52 am

      Hey, thanks! Yes, it’s always a wonderful feeling. It’s one I don’t get to feel as often as I’d like, considering how busy I am.

      I’ll be sure to spend some time perusing your site. The phase I’m entering now is one that, for me, is much less well-charted. I know I need to start getting some feedback and to put the story aside for a bit to let it cool before turning back to it. But I’ve only ever done a full revision of a story perhaps a couple times, and only had the gall to send in a finished story for publication consideration twice in my adult life (it was the same story both times, and both times rejected, though, as I recall, one of those rejections was a personal one).

      So, if I can glean some lessons from those who have a little more experience in this phase of the process, that may prove invaluable to me. Thanks again!

  2. February 9, 2010 8:52 am

    congratulations! I know the feeling of finally finishing a story, there is nothing quite like it:) I hope you get valuable critique from your friends and good luck with your next storie.

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