What is Writer in Motion? See my Week 0 post.
What did this story look like when I gave up and posted for Week 1 rough draft? You can read my initial draft at my week 1 post.
The Story So Far...
Normally, I'd leave a short story at least one week, often much longer, before re-reading it and doing some self-edits. Since it took me to the very last minute to finish my initial draft, and there are deadlines for posting, I didn't have that luxury for this story.
Another stumbling block I've encountered with this story has enlightened me on my writing habits. I often have stories that crop up in my brain and need to be told and I pour them onto the paper (or into the digital Word file as it were.) Sometimes, I use a prompt and it takes me a couple sentences or a minute of thinking, and then the story just flows. And while I don't usually know the end until 40% of the way into the story (which is also when I discover how long the story will be prior to revisions), I always know where the story was going.
Dear Reader, I did not know where this story was going. I never have had such a hard time writing a story. I mentioned last week I would never have bothered to "finish" the draft if I weren't signed up for Writer in Motion. When I looked at the image, I had ideas. I had so many ideas. And all those lovely ideas got me into trouble. Because I didn't let the story simmer long enough and/or I didn't have the appropriate length of time of a deadline. I often will give myself 10 minutes or 30 minutes to write a story based off a prompt. And the furiosity of that writing may lead to giving myself a little more time to finish it. Instead I spent the week trying things and really nothing worked.
What all that comes down to: I had a lot to self-edit.
Week 2: Self-Editing
I started with a 647 word story. I was trying to push to that 1000 word goal. Our stories are supposed to be under 1000 words at the end of this week, or as of this posting. That was clearly not my problem. However, I worried that having too short of a story would also be a problem. The pushing towards the required word count, rather than let the story be whatever word count it wanted, created problems. I kept trying to add in conflicting ideas. I had no clear goal. I kept changing the relationship of the two characters.
Going into edits, I planned to remove the chorus, focus the story, get to a point of conflict and resolution (that didn't exist before) and clean up the copy.
On the 20th, I felt I'd waited as long as I could or I wouldn't have any edits to put forth. I opened my doc, created a week 2 doc, read through, tried to remove the chorus and found the story lost the little bit I liked about it, put the chorus back in, and closed the doc.
I opened the document back up again yesterday. I deleted 279 words, bringing the story down to 367. There was even less story, but I liked it better. I had shaved off all the competing ideas. I worked hard to keep the line that got some positive feedback, scrapping the line about being made of photons, which hurt my scientist's heart.
A Single Thought
I self-edit all short stories with the single thought: what change does my protagonist go through, ie. a protagonist must change in order for it to be a short story. For this story, I actually want the problem my protagonist starts with to be the problem they end with, and the change needed to be that they now accepted themself with this problem. So the conflict became how do they go from wanting to change themselves to accepting this about themselves?
Self-Edited Draft: In the Country of Shadows
Read more stories
Visit the #WriterinMotion hashtag on Twitter or the Writer in Motion Week 2 blog post where participants post links to their blogs.
7/24/2021 01:03:50 pm
I think you’re too hard on yourself! 1000 words or less means just that, and you have such a unique voice here. It’s poetic and almost nostalgic.
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Writer of spec fic.