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...

THE CHALLENGE

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.

13 comments:

Tom Foolery said...

Go for it Ms Allsorts :) Pop-up picture books, that's my answer! ;-) TFxx

Oh the word thingy is POPAD

Jarmara Falconer said...

I'm ready to take up your challengeonce I've sorted out my novel. I shall be doing a lot of writing short stoies and all. To date I've only ever tried PF but now I shall be sending them out to as many different place as I can.

Good luck with your stories and I look forward to see what happens next

Alison Stevens said...

Belatedly stopping by to say hi to a fellow crusader. Great challenge idea! Good luck with your stories. :)

Karen said...

This sounds like a good idea, and something I need to get round to doing. Mind you, some of them have been everywhere and remain destined for the Unloved Story drawer!

Amanda said...

Hee hee, TF – I’d buy your pop-up picture books any day of the week! I could just imagine them with your clever photographs and words. XX

Yay, good for you Jarmara - I hope they do well. I’ve never had any luck with PF, although only ever sent them two stories. I just can’t get tone right for them.

Very nice to cyberly meet you, Alison. Thanks for popping over.

Ooh, Karen – I like the idea of an Unloved Story drawer – well I don’t, but you know what I mean.
:-)

joanne fox said...

Good luck Amanda. Sometimes I've managed to get a story published on its second or third outing. On the other hand, there are those in my rejects drawer that make me cringe to read them now. I ask myself whatever dingy corner of my brain I was using when I wrote them. Best not to inflict those ones on the world again, I think.

Colette McCormick said...

That might be a way of getting my fiction juices going again. I'll give it a go.

Suzanne Jones said...

Great post and terrific idea, Mandy. Will give this a go.

XX

Amanda said...

I know what you mean, Joanne. I've got a few stories that should never have seen the light of day in the first place!

GOOD LUCK Colette and Suz - keep me updated, won't you!?

Flowerpot said...

Good for you Mandy - go for it!

Amanda said...

Thanks FP. The first one's winging it's way to People's Friend right this minute!

Madeleine said...

Great advice :O)

Amanda said...

Thanks Madeleine - I haven't actually sold any of the re-sends yet - but they're all still out there :-)