I had an idea a while ago which turned into a short piece of fiction. It was only an idea and it was very short. Just a free write really. A few times I’ve thought that maybe it’s flash fiction and that it could be submitted somewhere, I kept telling myself that it wasn’t a complete story and it wasn’t good enough.
But recently I’ve been reading it again and that’s what I’ve been working on. I’ve been rereading it and tweaking it, setting it aside and rereading it again. I’ve struggled to think of a title and have changed it. I think it’s almost there, I hope it is as I’ll finally be able to submit a piece which has been my goal for a very long time.
My problem is always the edit, when I write something I never know where it’s going so when I’m rewriting I’m really unearthing the story and trying to piece it together. I’m deciding then what the story is about. Sometimes I might have an idea and a story but mostly I’m just pantsing. That’s just how my brain works.
Also sometimes when I’m editing I struggle and can lose interest in the story, I guess I lose faith. But I’ve learnt something working on this story. I’ve kept chipping away at it and it’s come to the point where I’m enjoying the story. It’s evolved into something beyond the original idea and I like it!
Being such a short story it has been less daunting. But getting this far has given me confidence, I’m thinking: hey if I can get to this point in this story where I’m enjoying it, where I want to send it out, maybe I can with my other stories. It’s just working on them and getting to that point. 🙂 I can be slow on the uptake.
I’ve read so many how-to books and articles, blog posts and watch videos but I really learn more from sitting down and getting the work done! Here’s somethings I’ve learnt:
- Know your process. There’s so many how-to guides and advice out there and I’ve read them but I feel that I’ve learnt a lot from just figuring out my process. Figure out how you work and don’t let any ‘advice’ steer you in the wrong direction. By all means take it on board but know what will help you, try it out, and know what won’t.
- Print it out. When you look at your story in a different format you notice errors etc that you wouldn’t otherwise. When I read over a hard copy of my story I noticed that I’d repeated words and I hadn’t spotted this when I was reading the story on my laptop.
- Record yourself reading your story aloud. I think I got this advice from Editing The RedPen way by Anne Rainbow. It’s common advice and great advice to read your story aloud, it helps you to see errors. I read mine aloud and I can hear if the story is flowing or stalling.
- Something I need to remember to do: Check the submission guidelines to make sure that your story is set in the right format and is the right word count.
- They say that you could get someone else to read over your work. I was tempted to do this before I submit it but when I get critiques it stalls me. I keep seeing all the negative but often helpful thoughts and I can’t see how to fix it. When I wrote Georges’ Bridge- my short story that won a competition- I didn’t have anyone else read it, I just worked on it and worked on it until I felt I’d done enough for it to be sent. It worked so maybe, just maybe it will work again.
Coming to a finish line with this story has given me the confidence boast to stick with my other stories and that’s exactly what I’m going to do now. This is one of those moments where I feel great about my writing and I know this is what I want to do with my life.
Anyway, share your tips and writing progress in the comments. I’ll leave you with two more tips:
Never throw anything away. You never know what might turn out to be gold dust later on, whether it’s something you rework until it’s a complete story. Or maybe you might use it for another story or project.
Never give up! Writing takes work and it can be a hard. It’s just you trying to write the amazing scenes in your head onto paper. If you keep trying, keep learning and practicing then you’ll get there. Even when you’re having a bad writing day or you’re not in the right mindset, think of what you have achieved (no matter how small: you sat down and tried to work on a story. You wrote a paragraph) and let that fuel you to keep going.
Happy Writing 🙂