There’s some sound advice for the novice short fiction writer from Sarah Brandel over at Apex Online. The first one (which, as any slush-pile reader will tell you, gets ignored far too often) is:
1. Get some distance.
First drafts are rarely perfect. The conventional wisdom, upon finishing a story, is to lock the story in a drawer for a week before starting to revise it. It can be difficult to see mistakes–ranging from typos to issues in continuity and back story–in anything one is too close to.
Amen. Any writers in the audience feel like sharing some of their hard-earned wisdom? [image by Gastev]
3 thoughts on “What to do when you finish a short story”
“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” – Gene Fowler (1890-1960)
Here’s a simple but effective one: read the story out loud. It’s amazing what you discover that looked OK on the page but sounds stupid when spoken.
Find another writer — or writers — who generally likes the kind of work you do and is able to be absolutely honest with you. When you have reached the point with a story where you think it’s done, let them read it and give you comments. Think about what they say, and then incorporate the changes you agree with into the story.
In a perfect world, we’d all have editors who could do that, but if you’re not lucky enough to have such an editor, find your own.
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