Although I didn’t get my short story finished in time to submit to the Sword & Laser anthology, I’m still going to push forward with finishing it and try to submit it somewhere else.
I posted the opening (about 900 words) to peer review web site for feedback. Here’s some of the general advice I took away from the specific points the reviewers made:
- Keep characters’ emotions consistent and logical. I really need to think about my characters and define them better before doing some rewriting.
- Have a clear connections between paragraphs
- Show don’t tell. I called a room ‘depressing’ when really I should have described why it felt that way.
- Open the story with some indication of time and place. I had started with some abstract thoughts about what the character was thinking, but one commentator said that getting a firmer grounding right off the bat would be helpful.
- Don’t overdescribe (too many adjectives in one sentence)
- Don’t make paragraphs too short
Finished my first draft of the short story I’m planning to submit to the Sword & Laser anthology. Right now it’s just under their maximum of 7500 words, but I know it’s going to end up longer. After I get a more complete version done, I’ll work to scale it back for submission.
There is a lot of cleanup work to be done – I did my best to just keep writing and not go back and edit. Things on my mind that I know need work:
- I left some conversations more as sketches rather than fully written out dialogue.
- Making sure my characters are well defined – use “tags & traits” as suggested by Jim Butcher.
- Since this is a new sci-fi universe, I have to make up names for spaceships, a planet, etc. Right now I just have temporary words in place.
- Fixing some plot holes – there are a couple places where I know I’ll need to come up with a better logical explanation for how things happened.
- Emphasize the sleeplessness of my main character – he starts off very tired but I didn’t really follow through with that throughout the rest of the story, even though it is told in real-time. I’m considering making the title of the story reference this.
- The “flow” of the writing. I started revising the opening paragraph of the story, and I’m just not happy with how it’s reading. I’m sure this will be an issue with the rest of the work as well. I’m going to do some reading up on how I can improve.
I’m working on a short story I had initially planned on submitting to Sword & Laser’s upcoming anthology. I’ve got the whole story outlined and have written about 3000 words of a rough draft. Since I’m only about a quarter of the way through the story, I don’t think I’ll make the cut-off of 7500 words to get accepted. I’ll probably end up finding another home for this one and possibly think up another story that I’d be able to submit to the anthology.
To outline the story I used the advice on Jim Butcher’s live journal site (I recommend starting here and reading each post in succession – most are relevant). The use of scene/sequel structure really helped me create a plot that continually upped the stakes and drove the story forward. Once I had the outline, writing hasn’t been too difficult since I have a plan to follow. I think the area that I’m lacking right now is fully fleshing out my characters, but I’m hoping to get that down in an editing pass.