Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Wednesday Wanderings

Anatomy of an edit, different story:  second (thousandth) verse, same as the first.

I'm working through short story of mine now, Written In Stone ... and I use the term "short story" loosely, because it originally clocked in a bit over 10k words.  I remember this very clearly because it was written for a monthly challenge on, back in ye olde days when the challenge was capped at ten thousand words.  The first draft of Written in Stone was significantly larger than that, and I went about a crusade of sneaky word cutting.  I finally got it just under the mark at around 11:15pm on the last day of entries ... and then my computer crashed, meaning I lost the last three hours of trims.  At that point, I threw up my hands and gave up.

(The challenge, by the way, was to write a story inspired by a specific song - the song left up to the writer.  I started with "Writing On The Wall" by Blackmore's Night, which is very much a fantasy sort of song to start with, but then something very incongruous crept in:  Miami Sound Machine's "Orange Express."  Of such unlikely collisions are my best ideas made, so I went along with it.)

So the story went into my files until ... well, now.  Approaching the process of editing, I decided to print it and do a paper read-through / mark-up.  I usually only do this for novels; I choose to do it with short fiction when I feel I need a stronger grasp on the big picture.  Why the printed word does this better for me than words on a screen, I couldn't tell you, but that means my first pass is effectively a 1.5:  as I go back over my suggestions in my terrible, scrawled handwriting, I sometimes rethink them, change them ... or can't read my own writing and have to stop and recreate what in the world I was trying to say.  (More so in a novel where it took me longer to get through the manuscript, granted.)

In any case, there were a number of overall concerns I had.  First of all, the worldbuilding was very oblique, with a steep learning curve for the reader.  It needed puzzling out and for the reader to hold onto pieces of information until they were clarified.  Fine for a novel, maybe, but a tough road to hoe in a shorter (... relatively) piece.  Second, it's a story of intrigue, but one very tightly focused on the narrator.  I had to make sure those aspects came through clearly.  Less urgently, but still important, the dratted thing was/is still much too long.  Surprisingly (to me, at least), I've found the paper edit very effective for finding places to cut.

Thwarting that need to cut is the fact that I think I need to add one more scene, or at least a fragment of scene, at the end, to truly tie up both the plot and the main character's emotional arc.  Still, when it comes to balancing the two, the story needs to be as long as it needs to be; I'm not going to leave necessary pieces out (or hack them free, pirate-style) to fit into a set word count.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

"Chains" now available in Kzine!

Blink and you (... or at least I!) miss it:  my story "Chains" is out in the current issue of Kzine!  Check it out: 

Kzine (Issue 23)