A little over a year ago, I was very proud to reveal that my novelette-length short story, here code-named “PFTETD”, had earned an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest.
Then sometime in April of last year I started on my next short story idea, what would eventually become the code-named “Story of G” (the final, actual title: “Resurrection Spell”). My goal was to try to one-up my performance on “PFTETD”, and maybe make a Silver Honorable Mention, or maybe even a Semi-Finalist.
I worked hard on “Story of G”, I got some really good feedback, I did some deep revision with a few significant structural changes and quite a bit of polishing. By the end, I was very proud of it. The overlap of people who had read both “PFTETD” and “Story of G” is quite small – I believe it consists almost entirely of myself and Dear Wife and maybe one other person – but Dear Wife and I both agreed: “Story of G” was a better story than “PFTETD”. Not that “PFTETD” is a bad story – far from it, in my humble opinion – but the characters in “Story of G” are more engaging, and the ending more satisfying.
So it was not without a strong sense of hope that I submitted “Story of G” to the Writers of the Future contest.
I learned the true fate of “Story of G” around the middle of November, but contest results for the 4th Quarter – in which I entered “Story of G”, have only now been made public. If you click that link, you will notice the curious omission of my name anywhere on the page. Actually, it’s not all that curious, because “Story of G” did not place nor earn an Honorable Mention in the quarter in which it was submitted. Continue reading
As of last night… the current draft of “Story of G” is now complete, at about 11,600 words.
That’s far longer than what I originally intended for this story. I have a terrible habit, in that regard, and it’s been hard to break. Even as I was deleting things I was adding a lot more new material.
I’ve planned another read-through to clean up this draft and get it presentable, but I’m hoping some of you Dear Readers will help me out with that task as well. I don’t need much help, just a couple people who wouldn’t mind looking at this draft. Last time I was mostly interested in story-craft: characterization, story-structure, plot, and so on. I’m still a little interested in that – mostly because I still have some anxiety over many of the new scenes – but this time around I’m more interested in sentence structure, grammar, spelling, style, passive voice, showing and telling, and that sort of thing.
I’m sort of hoping for at least one person who’s seen the story before and one who hasn’t. I’ve got one volunteer already, so I’m still taking applications. 😉
And thanks in advance, everyone!
Yesterday evening I finished a rough draft of my new short story, “The Story of G”. As I’ve mentioned here before, “The Story of G” is my follow-up to last year’s Writers of the Future Honorable Mention “PFTETD”. (I mean follow-up as in it’s my next short story and next potential entry into the WotF contest.)
“The Story of G” is not the actual title. I’m not indicating what the real title is, yet, because I still haven’t decided on it. That’s one of the bits of feedback I’ll be looking for from first readers (I have a few options I am mulling).
Dear Wife has already read it. She says she likes it better than “PFTETD”. That’s encouraging news. There are some caveats, of course, but I won’t publicly share the specifics of her feedback – in part because the specifics of feedback are a private matter, and in part because I don’t want to taint future beta readers.
So… if you’re got a little free time and don’t mind lending a helping hand, I’m looking for beta readers to provide a little feedback. It’s a fairly short story – a little under 8,000 words, which is quite a bit longer than my target of 6,000 words, but it’s still not terribly long. Let me know if you’d be willing to help. I’ll try to make myself available for beta reads and feedback in return.
Well… I had a look at my printed copy of “PFTETD”. It’s pretty eye-opening to give the story a bit of a read after some four months or more of separation.
I still believe this is probably the best story I’ve written yet. Still, it is flawed. Right from the get-go, I can see it now. The opening drags just a little slowly. The language is occasionally awkward even after several drafts. There are still some characterization issues.
I’m not sure how I would fix these problems. I haven’t actually read it all the way through, just the first few pages, so I’m sure there would be more problems revealed with a more complete read-through.
It’s a good story. But it’s not a good story. You know, like, really good. I knew it wasn’t great, but I thought it was really good. Instead, just as Westley wasn’t all dead, he was just mostly dead (sorry for the spoiler, folks, but there’s a bit of a statute of limitations on classics like these), the story isn’t all good, it’s just mostly good.
So, you know… I might actually learn a thing or two at JordanCon by workshopping this.
The years prior to when I started this blog, were filled with a series of personal disasters that served as major set-backs in my writing. But as painful as they were to bear, they were the catalyst for some serious self-examination about the quality and direction of my work. It’s the sort of honest self-assessment that I would advise every writer aspiring to publication to go through – though I generally don’t advise having to go through misfortune to reach that point.
This is the part where I wanted to have some easy-to-refer-t0-titles for my various writing projects, as I relate the story of my own re-examination of my writing. From the time of the car break-in up until the point at which I started revising “PFTETD”, my baseline assumption was that I would continue to work on “Project SOA#1”. My notebook was populated not exclusively but predominately by ideas and thoughts relating to “Project SOA #1”. There were, to be fair, a handful of entries about potential short story ideas or novel seeds. But I was most interested in in pursuing my long-time novel project and finally finishing that book that I’ve been writing since forever.
But somewhere between there and here, my thoughts have slowly changed. Continue reading
It’s true. Great ideas aren’t that uncommon, and it’s not infrequent that many people will approach the same great idea and take it in different directions. And that’s a good thing, as great ideas are like Legos: they can build on each other.
But, I think, there may also be a caveat to this wonderful exchange. In the marketplace of ideas and story seeds and plots, there can come a point in the life-cycle of a given idea that it becomes an “already-done”: where in the collective mind of the story-consuming public that idea has already had its fullest expression in a prior work of art or fiction, and any later work that starts from the same point is classified as a “copy-cat” work. Even if that later work adds something new, different, or substantive – something unexplored by prior works – if it starts from the point of an “already-done” idea, I suspect it may never gain a significant audience. Over time, the collective memory of the “already-done” may wane, but is the memory of the book and art-consuming public not a long one? I’m not sure.
To some extent, this question is the pervading problem of epic fantasy, in general. Every epic fantasy written in the last forty years lies in the shadow of Tolkien‘s “Lord of the Rings“, and incorporating any of the same ideas is considered cliché, passé, or even taboo. I have read many times that there is nothing – full stop – that you can do, say, or write about Elves, Dwarves, or Orcs (and to a lesser degree Wizards and Dark Lords) that will add anything new or original or interesting to the general fantasy framework Tolkien laid out.
It doesn’t matter whether that’s true or not. Enough influential voices within the halls of speculative fiction creatordom and fandom believe it to be true that we’ll get relatively few opportunities to test that hypothesis.
Which leads me to the subject of today’s poll. It is for the above-stated reasons that over the past few days I’ve become concerned about the future publication prospects of my most recently completed novelette, “PFTETD”. Continue reading
That’s right. Yours truly is in one. For my international readers, a Grand Jury, here in the States, isn’t the Jury that presides over a trial of someone accused of a crime. Rather, it is a Jury that listens to a summary of the Prosecution’s case and decides if there’s enough prosecutorial evidence to warrant a trial. And they do this over and over. And over. And over. And over again. For a whole lot of cases each in a day. It’s fair to say that the Grand Jury is giving a “Pass/No-Pass” grade to way more cases each day than real juries are capable of resolving each day.
Anyway, that’s where I was, yesterday (and why there wasn’t much replying to comments from me during that period of time). Obviously, for legal reasons, I can’t say much else about it.
It’s the first time I’ve ever even been called in to face Jury Duty, and obviously my first time being selected for service. So, I’ll be spending about one day a week for the next good many weeks trapped in a room with 20-ish other strangers learning about all the unseemly parts of my community. It’s like a holiday, only without the joy and cheer!
On the “I’ve been driven mad with power!” side of things, Grand Juries also get to investigate whatever they want to investigate in their county government; and their investigations are published. Of course… that’s like work…
In completely unrelated news… I’m filling in again over on Serial Central with an Election-themed shorty. Check it, read it, and enjoy it.