In which I detail my adventures in writing and publishing

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Branching Out

My wife spotted an article in the Sunday paper spotlighting a fiction contest open to U of Minnesota alumni and students. In the dark ages of my youth I wrote a few short stories; one was published in the high school literary magazine after the selection committee had my English Professor, Colonel Hagood, take me aside to establish that it was original (it was). Naturally I was simultaneously pleased and outraged that my name was mentioned in the same sentence as plagiarism.

The first draft is complete and on its way to the critique group. Compared to novel writing, a 3000 word story is easy to produce in terms of the time commitment. The rules and objectives are quite different. Another departure is my use of the first person. The three novels I've produced were all in third person. Keeping the point of view consistent and deciding when to change are non-factors in the first person.

The contest deadline is in February. I'm going to keep it under wraps until after the winner is announced. If I don't win, I'll use it to experiment with self publishing and put it out in e-book form for free, if possible. If I win, I'll make a link to the story online. Oh yes, and my wife gets the check.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thick or thin?

At my last critique group a member made the point that some books start thin and with revision get thicker. Convention wisdom in writing circles seems to hold that revisions ought to reduce the length of a book. You must kill your darlings, said William Faulkner. Well, I always found Faulkner wordy beyond belief. I think he could have killed off a few more darlings and his work would not have suffered.

I like Elmore Leonard's 10 rules of writing, especially number 10: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. That being said, my writing suffers from the story remaining in my mind rather than going on the page. To overcome this I truly rely on members of my critique group to point out glaring (to them) gaps and inconsistencies. I am training myself to step outside my brain and be my own critic, but I'm sure I will always need (and want) an overseer.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One quarter

Twenty-five percent finished with the edit. If that sounds like a snail's pace, you aren't alone. I took ten days off for a vacation, brought my memory stick but didn't do anything writing-wise. I mean, it was supposed to be play, not work. Anybody out there believe writing isn't work? I didn't think so.

If I pick up the pace, maybe I can finish by the end of February. Then, get ready all you agents, because I'm going to query like it's 1999.