Imagine a gathering of writers, elbow to elbow, sharing their traditional haiku, literary prose, and symbolistic poetry and then I’m next in line with, ‘The knife dangling from his fingers dripped a bloody path to the bathroom.’
Recently, one of the writers urged me to submit a short story to a publication that issued a call for crime fiction. I love writing crime fiction, but short stories...ehhhh... Whatever, I decide to give it a shot. (pardon the pun)
The deadline is almost on top of me and there is no time to start one from scratch so I check out the short stories I have on file. Maybe there is something promising that I can re-write or edit. I never think of myself as a short story writer but it’s surprising how many I have written over the last two or three years, although, only a few are of this genre.
Back to the submission call – I select a story that has always been one of my favourites. I love this story. The twisted, tragic ending. Ahhhh. I think I’ve sent it out a time or two with no luck. Let’s see if it’s worth salvaging.
Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end. I move the middle of the story to the beginning, and I shorten the ending. That in itself is a major improvement. So far, so good. Now, it's obvious that one or two characters have to go. After all, this is a short story. Much better.
My next read-through, I pay particular attention to the paragraphs, and then narrow my focus down to sentences. Now I can see the problem. This paragraph belongs up here − these sentences are too choppy – and those ones need to be tightened.
Dialogue! I need dialogue to liven up the beginning of the story. So now, I have our protagonist talking with a waiter who provides information important to the development of the story. This is all good.
The lead character’s name is wrong. I just have that feeling so I change her name. Any sentence I’m not 100% comfortable with has to go! If there is a word I stumble with, it has to go. I keep reading until the story flows smoothly from beginning to end.
Keeping a close eye on the word count, my story remains within the required length. Okay, one last read-through to see if I am following the criteria of the submission call.
Family ü Fraud ü Deceit ü Wrongdoing ü Murder ü Injurious Acts ü
Looks like I have it covered!
Wish me luck!