Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,
Rowyn
rowyn

Writing about Writing: A Doll's Life

I finished writing "A Doll's Life" late last night.

The story, as written, runs about 10,200 words, which is shockingly close to my original estimate of 10k.

It's longer than it needs to be; there's a whole section of people playing an RPG which amused me, but which has almost no impact on the story, and could be easily glossed over, to name just one example.

Being long is probably bad. My sense, from looking over the submission guidelines for various publications, is that the "standard" short-story range is around 2,000 to 5,000 words. I once read a long rant by an editor acquaintance, directed at authors who have the "nerve" to submit longer stories -- 8,000 or more words -- because he felt they were (a) sloppy (you can tell it in less than that!) and (b) greedy (one novella would eat up his entire budget for an issue). Or something along those lines.

But even aside from that, it seem like a shorter story has a better shot. It's cheaper for the publication, and takes up less space, so there's less risked on giving a new author a break. And it's less of a chore for the editor reading it. If it were my job to read stories all day, I know I'd be happier reading short ones. Heck, even when I'm reading for fun, if I'm reading unfamiliar authors, I prefer the stories to be very short. If I start a three-page story and am not much impressed by the first page, I may go ahead and finish it anyway -- what the heck, I'm already a good chunk of the way through. But if I don't like the first page on a thirty-page story, I'll probably quit there.

Anyway, I think "A Doll's Life" will stand a better chance if I tighten it up. I'm not really sure what to cut yet, however. I may just not worry about it for a couple of weeks. Let it rest, then come back to it and see.

The story was startlingly easy to write. I think the timeline went something like this: Early April, Greywolf wrote down a dream he'd had, and he welcomed me to turn it into a story. The next day, I composed the outline for it. A few days later, I wrote the first part, lost it in a software crash, and shelved the whole idea as being too long and time-consuming to complete. September 20, I decide to start it again anyway. October 7, I finish the first draft.

That's about one day to work out the idea, and seventeen days to write it out. Bear in mind that I'm working on Prophecy at pretty much the same steady pace I always am, throughout this. And working my day job, of course. At a guess, I'd say I spent about 20 hours on it so far, including the time to think up my approach, and the time spent writing and doing what revision I have on it.

Writing it was very easy. My outline was quite detailed, and I had a clear concept of everything that was happening. The third part was a bit of a slog, but the rest came easily enough. I keep forgetting how quickly the writing part of writing can get done. So much of the time spent "writing" doesn't involve actually writing anything. It's me staring off into space, thinking "How do I handle this next bit?" Sometimes that part goes quickly, too. And sometimes, it doesn't go at all.

I'm quite happy to have finished the story. Greywolf enjoyed it, which was certainly goal #1 of the project. :) And now -- I can start work on a new story!

Or I could go back to one of the other stories I've started in UT. I'm not sure which I'll do. I'm thinking of scripting out a story based on a dream of my own, from a week or two ago. This one hasn't been posted to LJ, so it'll be new to everyone. Except me, of course.

Oh -- I tried the "Write or Be Bored" approach to Prophecy again last night, for 30 minutes. This time I was a bit less focused; I found my eyes wandering to the game Lut was playing, and other things. I got a bit under 400 words written, however, which ain't great but is still respectable.
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