In February I started a time-travel story for the Time in a Bottle anthology. It took me a whole month, but I finished it a little over a week ago--and it was way too long. So I took a machete to it, and managed to carve it down to just under the maximum wordcount yesterday.
But I still wasn't happy with it, so I decided to sit on it another day. And last night just before I fell asleep, I realized what the problem was. An entire scene was completely unnecessary--and I'd known it on some level because I'd been whittling away at the scene until it was really just a nub of its former self. Today at lunch I whacked the scene out completely.
But I decided to hold off on sending it out until I could give the whole story one last read-through and make sure I hadn't left any references to the deleted scene. And as I read this evening, I had another lovely realization, that I needed a short exchange between the two main characters at the very end, something to tie together the story's themes. So I added that, and it worked. And I sent it off.
Watch it get rejected now, after all that work.
I've wacked about 5000 words off of two epic shorts tonight and now they're both horrible to me.
Which means I must be doing something right.
I always love snipping away little useless bits until I have something...
Well, tightly written at least. Good luck!
Jeremy--there's something satisfying about making huge cuts to a story, even if the result might seem maimed at first. I bet your stories are a lot better now. :)
Aaron--I cut so much from this story that I don't think I could cut another word. It's so tightly written it practically squeaks--although that doesn't necessarily mean it's any good.
Congrats on finishing it! Now watch us both get rejected after all the work we put into these damn time travel stories.
Sending another prayer to the acceptance gods for you.
This means I have to go buy another slab of alcohol shortly but that's okay - I don't mind ;c)
The ideas always come to us just as we're settling down to sleep.
Congrats on coming up with something you are eventually happy with. It must be hard being a novel writer in a short story world. ;) Good luck, I have a good feeling about this story.
Jameson--Stupid time travel stories. :p
BT--Thanks! *raises glass*
Cate--Yes, and I get good ideas in the shower too, for some reason.
Jamie--thanks, I hope you're right. I'm just so sick of rereading the thing that I don't even care if they reject it at this point (well, almost).
Same thing happens in my field: they say that a bad programmer gets the job done by writing a thousand lines of code, a good programmer gets the job done by writing a hundred lines of code, and a great programmer gets the job done by removing a dozen lines of code.
I suspect that I may be the thousand-lines-of-code guy a lot of the time.
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