blackyrider: Hi! You posted a link to the Short Story contest and I wanted to ask if I can compete even if I don't live in America?
I believe so…I checked out the bios of last year’s winners, and one of them lives in Pakistan. Go for it!
Calling all short story writers! The Kenyon Review’s short fiction contest is open to all writers who haven’t been published in book form (self-pub doesn’t count, luckily!).
Send your best story that’s 1,200 words or less (damn, that’s short). Here’s the link for submission details: http://www.kenyonreview.org/contests/short-fiction/
Since it’s free, we all have to enter! If you win, you get published plus you get to attend a writer’s conference. The Kenyon Review is a biggie, so don’t sit this one out. My only problem is finding (or writing) something less than 1,200 words….
If you did, I have one Titanic-sized piece of advice: put most of your effort into revision. I’m not kidding. Five manuscripts and a Master’s degree later, I am firmly convinced that this is how to get better at writing.
Over the summer, I wrote the first draft of my next book. It ended up being waaay too long, at 410 pages and 117,531 words.
So I spent all fall on my first editing pass, which should be over in another week or so. Then I’ll start the second pass.
As of right now, my draft is now 345 pages and 93,550 words. I got rid of 65 pages! That’s a ton, but it was absolutely necessary. With every sentence, you should read it through word-by-word, making sure each word is (a) necessary and (b) the right word for the job.
A lot has been written about how evil adverbs are, and this is exactly the level of detail I try to apply to a revision. For example, I have a tendency to overuse “softly” to explain how someone spoke a line. As I revise, I’m on hyper-alert for “he said softly” or “she said softly.” When I find this, I have to ask myself why I put it there. If the character isn’t screaming, for example, it’s obvious she’s speaking in a normal tone. Is specifying “softly” really adding something the reader wouldn’t know? Why is the character speaking softly? Is she afraid? Are there sobs stuck in her throat? Wouldn’t either of these be much better for expressing what’s really going on? I think so.
Granted, this level of scrutiny is both exhausting and time-consuming. That’s why I’m still on round one of revisions four months after finishing the first draft. But no one said writing is a fast process, or even an enjoyable one. The point of it is to do it well—the better you can do this, the better your message and your characters will touch your readers.
If you clutter up your book with unnecessary conversations, scenes, descriptions, and adverbs, your reader is going to be either bored or frustrated. It’s your job to keep that from happening. The only way I know how to do that is to be your own worst critic. Look at every word of your manuscript and make sure it’s earned that place on the page. If it hasn’t, it has to go.
If you can do this, you’ll know you’re sending out your absolute best work when it’s time to submit to journals, magazines, or agents.
Does anyone else think it’s funny that people pay $275 for a face cream whose name is “LAMER”?
I swear, some days it feels like an ass-kicking accomplishment to
(a) do laundry
(b) put it away
all in the same day.