Thursday, 3 February 2011
A SHORT STORY CHALLENGE
This is something all short story writers can play at home. All you need, in true Blue Peter style, is an empty washing-up bottle, a wire coat hanger and - this is the important bit - a LONG list of rejected stories. If you haven’t got any you’re lucky. And I was going to say you can borrow one of mine as I’ve got hundreds of the little demons – well 38 to be exact. But it could get complicated, turn nasty, even. ‘I wrote that bit’ *punch* ‘No you didn’t, I wrote that bit’ *punch*.
And you don’t actually need the washing-up bottle or wire coat hanger either, unless you want to make a...a...well you decide.
I digress. Back to the challenge, then...
It’s so easy to think once a story has been rejected by one magazine it’s a no-go. You can feel totally deflated and, yes, upset. I admit, I cried when my early rejections came through. But I don’t anymore – because, to paraphrase somebody who says clever stuff, it’s all part of the rich pattern of writing. But, and it’s a big BUT, it isn’t always the end for our rejected tales. Sometimes it only needs a few tweaks, sometimes nothing at all, for it to get snapped up by another magazine or even a competition.
So here it is...
1. Type a table of your rejected stories. This shouldn’t include stories you haven’t attempted to send out there.
2. Add columns headers with various outlets e.g. Take A Break, Competition. The Weekly News...you catch my drift. This should be different to the excel spreadsheet, or paper records you normally keep – you do keep a record, right? This is different, it’s your ‘CHALLENGE TABLE’
3. Now take your stories – (one at a time, or your head will whirr) and read them through carefully. You may decide the twist (if there is a twist) is too obvious – well worn (ooh, get me) – and it would be better to go with a more obscure idea. E.g. It isn’t his mother after all, it’s Mrs Jones from number six with the six poodles (I’m being silly). Or perhaps you’ve got far too many unnecessary words, or too many characters. Or the setting is all wrong. Or you need to give more explanation, or less explanation. Going back to a story after some time often highlights things that you didn’t spot first time round.
4. And now, GET THOSE STORIES OUT THERE!
Right... I hereby announce MY challenge is to SELL at least one of my 38 rejected stories before the end of the year. I’ll keep you posted – or I may never blog again because I look darn silly.