The Story of a Story

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The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:44 am

I just finished my latest story, titled "Money" (you should hear Pink Floyd in the background). I thought it would be fun to track what happens to it here. I'll keep you posted.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:39 am

I've been going around and around on "Money". Sometimes I think it might be pretty good, other times I think it is awful. I've set myself a deadline: today. I'm going to do one final rewrite and then send it out. Meanwhile, "Mother and Child", a story I think is really good, got it's 14th rejection yesterday, this one from Daily Science Fiction. I'll get it back out there today, also.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:46 am

Well, I didn't meet my deadline. I worked for several hours on a rewrite, made good progress, but only got to page ten.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Fri May 20, 2011 6:48 am

And now you know why I don't have more published stories, even though I have sold stories to Analog and F&SF. I didn't get "Money" in the mail until April 18. Other things -- grading papers, getting the new Comics Revue to the printer, watching The Wire -- took precidence. Why? Because as much as I love writing, and love seeing my stories in print, I hate rejection slips.

In any case, with all my grades turned in and Comics Revue safely at the printers (and after watching the final episode of The Wire and the three mini-prequils), I sat down to do a complete rewrite of "Money". It seems stronger, now, but my hope is tempered with fear. In any case, it is in the mail to Gordon van Gelder at F&SF, and I'll let you know what happens next.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Tue May 24, 2011 6:38 am

While I wait for word on "Money", and the two dozen or so other stories I have out there, I've begun a new story, which gives me a good excuse to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of my writing habits. Yesterday I wrote the first eight pages, almost at one sitting. I write for an hour, then lie down and think for a while, return to the typewriter and make changes, and then write for another hour. This burst of energy is typical of the way I write -- bursts of energy followed by long fallow periods. I tend not to sleep through the night -- I've read that the ideal of sleeping through the night is uniquely American: in most of the world, you have to get up to check the locks on your doors, and stoke the fire. In my case, I go to bed at ten every night and wake around five, get back to sleep after about an hour and sleep until seven. That hour in the middle of the night is a good time to plot stories, and last night I struggled with the question of how to raise the stakes in the current story. This morning I woke up with the answer.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Fri Jun 03, 2011 6:36 am

New story finished and sent off to Asimov's. This thread is about just one story, "Money", which I plan to track until it either sells or has been sent to every professional market. But since it takes weeks, sometimes months, to hear back from each market, I thought I would write a little here about my current writing. I've never written a novel, and I've decided it's time. I need to break that project down into pieces I think I can handle, and so I've decided to write very roughly 20 chapters, with very roughly 5000 words in each chapter. I know I can write 5000 words. I've done that many times, sold some of them. So, to get a novel, I just have to do something I've already done, and keep doing it. Will that work? I'll keep you posted.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby Third Foundationer » Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:50 pm

Dear Admin,

Don't know if you want replies to your posts on this particular thread, but let me just wish you the best on your new endeavor.

I have a different writing strategy than you, I think: I write for at least hour a day no matter what. Also, I got a great piece of advice on novel writing (though I can't remember the source of it). It goes like this:

When you are writing a longer piece (like a novel) that you know you won't finish in one writing session, stop when you are rolling, not when you are stuck. It sounds counterproductive, but here's the logic: when you stop on a roll, you will want to come back to the writing the next day to continue rolling. Trust that you won't lose the thread of your writing, and you will have very productive sessions. Stop when you are stuck, however, and you will be much less eager to come back to your writing, and when you do, you will likely be stuck again.

This advice has worked very well for me so far, so I offer it to you for what it's worth.

Anyway, best wishes on your new novel!

--3rdF
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:44 am

I absolutely want feedback on this thread. Thanks for your comments.

What I'm struggling with now is the structure of a chapter, and how it differs from the structure of a short story. Clearly, like all fiction, it begins with a character and a conflict. Each chapter needs to carry over old ideas and characters and also introduce new ideas and characters. End on a cliffhanger. That's what I've gotten so far.

I'm leaning toward sticking with one point of view character throughout, but I've enjoyed novels that changed pov between chapters. Alternating pov seems like a strong structure -- but I don't think it will work in this case.

So far I've got a rough plot outline and five or six characters. I don't want to talk it to death, so I don't plan to go into detail here. (On the other hand, talking about his stories worked for Larry Niven, who bounced his ideas off of LASFS members.)

Also, I plan to alternate novel chapters and short stories, so I don't have all my eggs in one basket.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:43 am

Well, "Money" bounced from F&SF. Gordon sent a nice note, but did not have any suggestions for improving the story. I think back on the days when the editors of the "big three", which at the time were Astounding, Galaxy, and F&SF, routinely worked with authors. To be fair, in those days there were far fewer authors. Modern editors get hundreds of manuscripts a month, and enough of those are essentially ready for publication that working with authors would only increase an already incredibly competitive field.

So, where to send "Money" next? When I wrote it, I had Analog in mind, but I've got another story under consideration at Analog, also at Asimov's. My old fashioned preference for print magazines makes those three my first choices. The top market at which I don't have a story under consideration is Weird Tales, and there is no way "Money" is suitable for Weird Tales. It's sf, and political sf at that. So, should I send "Money" to Lightspeed, or wait until I get an answer on the Analog story? I'm leaning toward the latter.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby Third Foundationer » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:47 pm

Sorry to hear about the bounce. I agree with your wistful-sounding wish that editors would work with writers, but I think those days (at least for the biggest markets) are long gone.

I'm of the school that I always want stories and novels out there working, but I can see why you'd want to wait for an Analog answer, too.

Best of luck with your submissions!

--3rdF
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:59 am

Stan rejected my story, "One Way" with the comment that it was too much like the stories Astounding published in the 1940s, and so would not sit well with modern readers. I wonder. Are modern sf readers all English majors, or do we still have a lot of engineers out there who like stories from Astounding in the 1940s?
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby Third Foundationer » Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:27 pm

Sorry to hear that, Admin.

I think that comment is a bit of a compliment in disguise. Astounding in the 1940's was a groundbreaking publication. I do agree, however, that the trend in science fiction is very much away from "hard" s.f. and towards "science as a setting, not as a driving idea." Maybe you should write a vampire romance. In space. :wink:

I'm an English major, as it happens, and while I thoroughly enjoy, say, Harlan Ellison, I also thoroughly enjoy Arthur C. Clarke.

Best of luck with "One Way." Hope you find a home for it.

--3rdF
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:04 am

Thanks, Third Foundationer.

By the way, it is almost impossible to sell a vampire story these days. Editors are sick of vampire stories, because they get so many of them.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:45 am

I sent "Money", the story that is the subject of this thread, to Asimov's. I was going to hold onto it until I got a response to my story then at Analog, but then I got a nice rejection of a fantasy called "Small Changes" (if "nice rejection" is not a contradiction in terms) from Asimov's. Sheila said that Asimov's rarely publishes fantasy (which I knew) but that she would like to see my next sf story. So off Money went. Asimov's accepts electronic submissions now, which made it easy to send.

I get several dozen rejections for every acceptance, so rejection is nothing I'm not used to.
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Re: The Story of a Story

Postby admin » Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:38 am

While I'm waiting to hear from Asimov's, I've returned to work on Chapter One of my first novel. I need at least 70,000 words. Novels are getting longer and longer. I was thinking 20 chapters of at least 3000 words each would get me close, but my first "chapter" came in at just 1500 words. I'm working on a rewrite to bring it up to 2000 words, which should be not too hard, and then maybe 30 chapters of 2000 words or more. But I suspect that, as I write more, the chapters will naturally get longer.

I tend to have a spare style, and like reading the older, less wordy sf novels. Asimov and Heinlein and, over in the mystery field, Hammett and Chandler could pack a lot of whallop into 50,000 words. But modern novels, to be publishable, must be longer, with lots of dialog and descriptions. I want to sell a novel. Therefore, I must learn to write fatter prose. I'm working on it.
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