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Author Topic: My work-ons
wetwilly
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So I made myself a goal a couple years ago; I was going to back off working on novels and focus on short stories. Pay my dues and learn my craft, so to speak. "So," I told myself, "no more novels until you make at least 3 pro sales with short stories." In other words, learn my **** before I expect the publishers to line up for me.

Since then, I've written 15-20 stories and sent them all out to make their submission rounds. I have made 1 semi-pro sale. Got some nice feedback and personal R's from pro pubs, but no sales. Goal still stands at 0 pro sales. And I'm stalling out, not getting any better, as near as I can tell.

So I shifted my focus to reading and studying for a while, instead of writing. I've still been writing regularly enough, but shifting focus to the study. I picked up a book I read decades a go that has stuck with me so I could figure out why. I picked up an anthology of award-winning stories. I read them with the focus of "what do they do better than me?"

Here's my list so far. Posting it mostly because writing it for an audience helps me solidify my findings in my own mind. This list is only 3 items long, but gives me plenty to work on.

-I need to work on filtering the information through my POV character's POV. Make my cool world more interesting by presenting it through judgments of it by my POV character, rather than just presenting it.

-Speaking of my cool world, go deeper developing it. Some well placed environmental/historical details can help create a sense of reality. Those details need not get explained if they're not pertinent to the main plot.

-I need to think of smaller ideas. A lot of the short stories I have written are ideas that are too big. They should probably be novels or novellas or something. Smaller re: plot, not meaning.

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extrinsic
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Went and am still going through those three considerations. They, in turn, along with other considerations they raised, invoked deeper what am I still missing? quests.

What matters most became the pivot of substance. A contest's want-problem's motivations, conflict's stakes' diametric opposition of forces in contention, and tone's emotionally charged attitude arose as pivotal, though something subtle though probably more pivotal remained out of reach.

Long, tedious study and investigation across a number of social science sources for what prose's social function is, not merely entertainment, and related to irony, led to that discovery: a contest that covertly discovers a personal moral truth, such that the discovery is transformative and privately and publicly persuasive.

The emotional entertainment is the persuasive package; the moral truth discovery is the subtext message of actual content substance, the real and true prose purpose, the genuine social function. Method, message, and moral, without which, or too overtly of which, a narrative is superficial and apt to suffer a form decline.

Thus, motivated and suitably high risk stakes' emotionally and morally charged contests are the matters most of substance.

The question next is whether a contestant contends with an external, internal, or both, emotional-moral charge contest.

[ June 25, 2016, 03:36 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Haven't recommended this book in a while, so maybe this is a good time.

Will Shetterly told me years ago to read WRITING IN GENERAL AND THE SHORT STORY IN PARTICULAR by Rust Hills. It's a short, fairly inexpensive book, and I found it very helpful. (I had a tendency to get ideas that were too big/long and it helped me with that, for sure.)

The next story I wrote was a finalist in WotF and chosen for that year's anthology, and I really think that book helped.

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wetwilly
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I'll definitely look it up. Thanks, Kathleen.
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Disgruntled Peony
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My husband bought me the Emotion Thesaurus the other day, and it's actually very useful. (Helps with showing emotion rather than telling, and showing is my big work-on right now.)
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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
Haven't recommended this book in a while, so maybe this is a good time.

Will Shetterly told me years ago to read WRITING IN GENERAL AND THE SHORT STORY IN PARTICULAR by Rust Hills. It's a short, fairly inexpensive book, and I found it very helpful. (I had a tendency to get ideas that were too big/long and it helped me with that, for sure.)

The next story I wrote was a finalist in WotF and chosen for that year's anthology, and I really think that book helped.

Seconded. Read and studied Hills in company with several others in the same insights and price range. Hills is unique in how he distinguishes "types": character, action, foreshadowing, story, method, etc.
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wetwilly
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Book ordered. I look forward to reading it. Hopefully it will help push me past my plateau.
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