Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My Growth as a Writer

Recently, I've been reflecting on ways in which to improve my writing. A story I wrote at the beginning of the year was one I was quite happy with - that is, until I received six straight rejections. Then I started thinking, what am I doing wrong?

I've figured it out. It was so blatantly obvious and yet, I was oblivious to it. The conclusion I've come to is that...wait for it - I rush my stories. Upon analyzing and thinking about how I go about my work, I've discovered that I have become too concerned about having my stories reach print rather than give the story its best chance by taking my time with them. I've been too caught up by quantity - not quality, wanting to become too big too soon.

So right here, right now I'm going to make a declaration. With every story I write from here on in, I'm going to bang out a first draft and let it sit for a little while instead of launching straight into the second draft. I have found that my aproach to my work of late has been very narrow minded. I haven't let the stories rest and haven't asked myself quesions such as, Is the story original enough? Have I used word economy to its best advantage? Does the story flow smoothly and is it polished to a professional enough standard?

No, I haven't been asking myself these questions and my work has suffered greatly from it. So, in order to succeed and have more stories published, I will strive to give considerable thought as to a story's appeal and work and work and work it until I'm satisfied that I have written them as best as I posibly can.


Damien Kane said...

Hi Chris - writing is a funny game, isn't it? Personally, the process I like best is the first draft; putting pen to paper and seeing the words scroll across my notepad. After that, things do get tricky, don't they? Stephen King said that to write is good; to edit is devine. Remember that. The first draft is fantastic. Allow your creative juices to flow and don't worry about Mr Editor. He comes later. After your story, put it aside for a few weeks then read it all at once and make notes on structure and big issues. Then, when Mr Editor puts his hat on, I've found the following tips in many books I've read on the subject:

1. Review the tense. Is it right for the story?
2. Review the point of view (POV). Many good stories would be great stories with the right POV.
3. Review, re-write and then re-write. Then, you're ready for the editing process!

I've found the following four points to be sound when editing:

1. Remove adverbs (ie, slowly, quickly, etc)
2. Omit needless words (this will probably kill around 30% of your story but it reads better
3. Go 'which' hunting - change most of them to 'that'.
4. If you don't know your story backwards, you need to edit it again.

I'm nowhere near perfect, but I hope these points help. Writing is difficult but if you do it out of love and not money, you're one step ahead. DON'T WORRY ABOUT REJECTIONS. Any rejection is a positive thing because it points you in a direction you may not be able to see. If you receive any feedback, always THANK them for being critical. They are helping you by giving comment. Even if it is derogeratory, I write back and say thanks. Remember that editors differ. I had a particular story rejected six times and made very few changes. Last week I had it accepted and received the comment that it was brilliant. One man's junk is another's treasure, so to speak. Keep at it. Keep writing and keep submitting. Persevere and be determined - we're in the same boat you and I!!

All the best!

Brian G Ross said...

Yeah... what he said.