This article is actually a warm-up, just to get a decent flow of words coming from my fingertips before I start work properly. You see, today I’m about to attempt something I’ve never actually done before: a short story to submit for publication. Sure, I made several abortive attempts at a novel, but the simple fact of writing twenty times the material makes the process rather different. That said, I don’t think I’m going to be able to just bang this one out.
Normally, I tend to prefer a certain amount of naturalism with my short story writing. I don’t tend to need to gloss chunks to force the story out (as I did with bits of the novel), so my second drafts tend to be tweaks rather than whole re-writes. However, this time I have a concept and direction, but no plot. This means that I’ll probably end up keeping the dialogue from the first draft as a script before writing a full second draft around what the characters say and then amalgamate the two for the prettiest versions of the description. And I suspect there will have to be major structural changes between the two drafts, too.
The daft thing is, I’ve never been great at deadlines, tending to do last-minute blazes as the final date looms. Once again, I have the exciting new experience of starting a project a whole month before it needs to be submitted, if only because I suspect it will take me that long to write what I fully expect to be four drafts.
The plan is this:
Draft One: Wordvomit. Just get the plot on the page. My dialogue’s at its best on the first run, but the rest is probably best left as blunt-instrument description. It can be pretty later.
Draft Two: Using the dialogue from Draft One, take the badly-written plot and rewrite it properly with nicer descriptions and better structuring.
Draft Three: Tweak Draft Two and exchange any descriptions that came out better in Draft One. Ask my best critical friends to read and comment.
Draft Four: Rewrite to resolve any problems perceived by Draft Three’s readers.
As I said, this is my first attempt at actually dealing with any kind of publication process, so I don’t have high expectations. You probably won’t see it in print. But if it does get to the print stage, I’ll put up links here and on facebook for you to get your grubby mits on the anthology it’s included in.
Hopefully, this will serve at the very least to get me back into the habit of writing, and mean that I start putting my head above the parapet a bit more online.