Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Being your own editor

Accepting a submission call for a story of limited length forces you to be your own editor.  You have to discipline yourself in telling the story you want to tell in as few words as possible.

For me, writing has a purely instinctive stage.  I start by just getting out what I want to get out and worry about whittling it down and cleaning it up later.  I like to turn the characters loose and let the scenes take on a life of their own.

But, as you keep one eye on the word count, you realize you have to go back and decide what to sacrifice.  How can you convey the same information in fewer words?  Which information or character expression is unnecessary?  What's the best way to streamline each scene effectively? And, which scenes are completely unnecessary?  You start to feel like you're deciding who to push out of the lifeboat.  But, then you remind yourself that you'll never improve as a writer unless you learn to cut the flab from your own work and let the story become an instrument to get the point across as effectively as possible.

You write for yourself, but learning to develop an editorial facility means you're writing for the reader as well.  That means getting to the heart of it without sacrificing the soul.  Hard sometimes, especially when you're having fun with a story.  But, it's like dieting; learn to internalize a regimen and you'll be pleased with the result.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Why Do My Posts Always Seem to Land on Holidays?

Because the first Monday of the month often is, I suppose...

It's been a busy time for me this month, and part of that was getting Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires ready for bed. The manuscript is currently in production's hands. Can't wait to see the final package!

Putting together an anthology is a labor of love. It is a very fine balance making sure all the stories work together, make the page count, show variety--a thousand other considerations. As both an anthology editor and frequent contributor, I just wanted to remind all our writers out there that an anthology rejection is not always because your story needed more work than we could realistically give it...sometimes, the story is PERFECT--for another anthology. I got so many submissions that were well-written but without a speck of Steampunk. Couldn't use them. They didn't fit the theme of the anthology.

As a writer, it is your job to read the requirements carefully and make sure that your story meets them. The Pac-Man story wasn't even Victorian...I might have been able to stretch a little, but not that far.

As an editor, it is my job to think outside the box if there is a quirky story that fits the requirements but might need a little work to polish it up. It is NOT my job to make your story fit the guidelines.

I love editing anthologies, but I don't see how someone does it all the time. It is exhausting! My hat's off to those who do nothing but anthologies--or even more extraordinary--still manage to make time for their own work as well. I'm a once-a-year anthology editor. At least for the time being. ;)