Sunday, December 02, 2007

Or I Could Just Be A Glutton For Punishment

I've been thinking about short fiction again, lately.

Over the past few years, I've written the occasional short story -- including two pieces that I wrote as part of my back-from-erstwhiling.

Prose is, in general, something I that flounder with. I don't know how novelists do it -- 250, 300, 500, 800 pages of characters and plot and description and all the rest?

But it's not just a matter of sustaining a novel, because the same thing has cropped up in my short pieces too. I'm good at character and dialogue, and I can handle plot. They aren't the problem.

It's description. Every single time.

I worry, too much, about my descriptive prose. I worry that I've described too much, or not enough. I worry that I'm being too direct and explicit, or too poetic and opaque. I worry about the voices of my characters, and the discrepancy I see between their dialogue and the narration when I use the first person.

I don't know why I over-think this stuff. I'm not exactly a master of plot, either, but I don't seem to get hung up on it.

That's why it's kind of a big deal for me to pull my short stories out of the trunk, and dust them off.

I have one piece that probably just needs a little tweaking, and then can go to market. That one, I've actually already submitted to four publications with no takers so far. I'm not sure why -- I think it's quite good. I might make it my next writers group submission and get some more feedback.

I have another piece that I recently submitted to a short story contest, so we'll see how that goes. It's pretty solid as well.

And there's a third story that needs some major clean-up. (Among other things, I switched from the third to first person half-way through.)

So, given my anxieties around prose, why am I doing this?

For one thing, I'd like to at least try to confront my anxieties around writing prose.

And I have these stories, and they aren't doing me any good just sitting on the hard drive collecting... well, not dust. Random electrons, I guess.

Also, short fiction -- especially in genre fiction, which is what I tend to write -- is a far more open medium than most to newcomers and "emerging writers."

And although the money isn't big -- one of the reasons that it's a comparatively easy market to break into -- getting paid anything for my work would provide some much-needed validation and ego-boosting right about now.

So, I'm going to review the three short stories that I think are solid enough, and finished enough. I'm going to rewrite where I have to. And I'm going to start getting the work out there.

There you go: The first, and probably simplest part of my plan for the New Year. Keep good thoughts in your head for me, okay? It's a simple plan, but it still involves wrestling with a demon or three.

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