Friday, 29 May 2009

May Short Story Challenge - Are You Done?

May is almost at an end. Our very first Short Story Challenge month. Have you finished your story? I just finished mine, and didn't send it to an editor, but did send it to a tutor. My story is women's fiction about three sisters. Come on guys, post your progress, frustrations, achievements.

Writing What You Want

I have neglected blogging for last few days but what with holiday planning, frustrating short story, and SIMS game beckoning me...what's a girl to do! Tomorrow, I am off to Turkey for 2 weeks, so a little something before the break. When I was asked to write a story about "green issue" and I went back saying it didn't interest me, my tutor though kindly accepted it, did say that the purpose was not necessarily to write only what one was comfortable with, but what one could sell. I have heard this before, and I don't entirely disagree with it, because I don't think poverty is romantic or heroic in any way. But, I also don't agree with it. I create characters and worlds that come from me, the ones that somehow resonate with me. That is not to say that one shouldn't try different things. Because often you don't know you like something until you try it. But if I didn't care about that particular story, I cannot write it well. It doesn't move me, or touch me in any way. That and then the whole frustrated short story thing led me to wonder if I actually want to write short stories. I started of wanting to be a writer by writing a novel. That still remains the most important thing. After starting Writers Bureau course, I learned about other options of being able to write short stories and articles - things that might perhaps make me a published writer sooner. But now, I feel that the kind of short stories I may like to write have limited market beyond competitions, and I am not at all a fan of paid competitions. I understand that those people don't have enough funds to make it free, but I haven't got enough funds to keep paying for it when I don't win anything. So I don't even consider paid competitions as a market at this stage. So either then I must write short stories that suit the market requirements and write them well, or I don't. So I have come to a conclusion. To write short stories that I want to write, and then worry about the market. I refuse to frustrate myself any longer with a story that I don't want to write and therefore through the whole process, I keep calling it rubbish, nightmare, and can't wait for it to finish. And when it is finished, it is merely substandard. That is a waste of my time and energy, which could be better spent on millions of other things I do want to write. Novels thankfully provide hell of a lot of freedom, and I can write what I want. I think especially in the initial stage, when we are still learning the craft, learning to deal with rejection, trying to handle discipline of being a writer in spare time, it is essential to maintain the passion. If we loose the passion to write now, there is no hope. And passion comes from doing something you want to do with all your heart.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Have you read any of these?

I have made a current reading list. Usually, I don't do this...but now I have got so many books that it's bewildering to decide what to read a list (how organised of me!!)

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Top-Ten Reasons Why Manuscripts Get Rejected

Guest Blogger, Laura Bridgewater lists the 10 reasons why manuscripts may go in slush-pile at The Writing Bug. 10. Overdone description that doesn't move the story forward 9. Spoon-feeding the reader what the character is thinking 8. Having the characters address each other repeatedly by name, as in, "John, let's go!" 7. Introducing a character with first and last name, as in, "John Smith entered the room." 6. Beginning a story with dialogue 5. Opening with a cliché 4. Yanking the reader out of the action with backstory 3. Not giving the reader a sense of place or where the story is going 2. Characters are MIA until bottom of page 2 1. Telling instead of showing I found #7 quite surprising, though I suppose it's more of a guideline than hard and fast rule.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Dreaded Rejection Letter

Couple of days ago, I got a dreaded rejection letter for a fantasy short-story. URGH!! Coming home from work and looking at post, that's the last thing you want to see. Of course, no one wants to see rejection. Yet, every book published on writing says that unless you can handle rejection, you shouldn't get into this industry. So how do I feel about receiving rejection?
  • Fortunately, I happen to be creative but also practical (in some things) and stubborn, so when I see a rejection letter, I don't fall into despair. Of course I do feel bad, and for a short while I do feel a bit down, but it doesn't effect my general happiness level. Though mind you, I have only seen a couple of rejection letters so far so not sure what might happen if that lasts too long.
  • I am realistic about the magazines I submit too. This particular story was submitted to a top magazine so obviously chances of rejection are higher.
  • This letter was typed, but not form rejection. So for some strange reason, that felt slightly better.
  • Generally though, I am of the opinion that as an unpublished author this is a learning stage. Each rejection letter also says that I managed to sit down and complete a story. I found a market and I submitted it.
  • And of course now there is nothing stopping me from revising it and sending it to another magazine and see how things go...

How do you handle rejection?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Short Story Challenge - Challenging

I never lack ideas, so it should have been easy. Unfortunately, I was supposed to write about something particular. I had to write a short story about "green issue." Now, I am all for saving the environment, but it's not the issue I would want to read or write fiction about. I know people write fiction for many reasons, but I have a simple reason.
Fiction = Fun
Green Issues = Not Fun
But I tried. I wasted over a week coming up with different ideas. But none of them were strong enough to turn into a story, and I think it's more because I don't want to write it that I just don't feel strongly enough about those ideas. So finally got sick of it, and emailed my tutor to ask if I can write about something else.
So I shall be starting my challenge work from scratch.
How are you guys progressing?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

How do you approach your short story?

What do you start with? With characters, a setting, an event? There is no method to my madness. If I am writing a short story for an assignment then I may have a particular criteria to meet, like a character or a setting. But if I am starting a story completely for myself then I usually start with whatever comes into my head. Character - often I have started with a name, or simply a situation a character is in. For example, a man who has lost the love of his life. Then from then, I brainstorm and story develops. Setting - this I almost never do by choice, because for me it is the hardest. I create stories from people, to start with setting and find people to fit in it is like buying a house then forcing yourself to adjust to its style. Event - this also works for me. Something happens someone dies. There is the major event, then characters are created who can react to it. How do you start yours? Have you already started it for the short story challenge?

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Writing Gym

Today, I attended a saturday workshop called "The Writing Gym" at Bristol Folk House. My main purpose in signing up for it was to socialise with some "real-life" writers, not that your online company isn't fantastic of course, but it's nice to meet people face-to-face sometimes. Other than that, I had no expectations except to have fun and write. It was a really good experience. The workshop was meant for novices, which means a lot of advice given - while excellent - I was already familiar with. But it didn't ruin the experience for me in any way. Writing exercises were great fun, and good challenge. It is amazing how easy it is to write in a company of people, when at home by myself, time seems to stretch sometimes. I must have wrote few thousand words at least, and while during the free-write got a skeleton sketch for a short story, as well as an idea for a potential flash fiction piece. The workshop was taught by Rosemary Dun. Her energy and enthusiasm made the workshop a rewarding experience. I have attended saturday classes on various subjects at local university before, and every time, if the teacher is enthusiastic it becomes a most productive experience. It was also fascinating to see what experiences other aspiring authors/poets go through, what sort of fears and insecurities they suffer from, and what their hopes are for their writing. I have signed up for one more session called "The Writer's Spa" in July. Already looking forward to that.

Friday, 1 May 2009

May 2009 - Short Story Challenge

Welcome to the first short story challenge. Let's all work together and make this a success, so we can have many more challenges, and hopefully have the pleasure of seeing our work published at some point.
Reminder of main points:
  • This is a monthly challenge, beginning on May 1st and ending on May 31st
  • Please post your progress, or if you finish the story, let us know that you have finished it. How many words, any details you like to share, and whether you have submitted it or not.
  • There are no rules. You can write what you want, and submit if/when you want to a publication of your choice.
  • The purpose of doing this challenge together is purely to motivate one another to write something regularly, and finish it.

Few people have asked about writing prompt/theme. Each month, I will post three prompts/themes that you can use for your story if you wish. That's purely optional, meant for people who may be bit stuck for ideas.

May 2009: Themes/Prompts

  • May day - write a story where May day celerabtion plays a central part
  • Write a story which has three main characters - two men and a woman
  • Write a story set in a country estate