Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Birth and Rebirth of Stories

I am new enough at the writing game to only now be noticing how much a story can change over time. It was only a week ago that I was whining about not getting information from EDF about the fate of a story I had sent them. Ask and thou shalt receive...shortly after that came their rejection letter.

I decided to take another short story that I had been working on and send it back at them the same day. Targeting Hunger and Blue Balloons was sent out under a different name and only 100 words long to Flashshot. It was rejected as it 'didn't fit any of their genres'. Fair enough. I took the story and fleshed it out, bringing it to 800 words. It works for me as a Literary/Fantasy piece and I hope that it works for them.

My second example of story rebirth is a literary piece called The Inscription that started out as a class project at about 500 words. I then expanded it to 1400 words and entered it in the Arts & Letters competition here last year (a provincially funded competition with 5 prizes of $1000). I would give you all the particulars of this, but it's only open to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador...anyway, the story didn't win me a cent. I did get some useful feedback from the judge and revised and expanded it again to just over 2000 words and sent it to a university publication called Paragon. It was rejected there as well. I have just found out about a new competition called The Cuffer Prize in the local newspaper, sponsored by a small publisher. The top prize is $2000, $1000 for second and $500 for third (again, must be a provincial resident). Plus some press coverage. I now am trying to cut is back to its bare essentials to meet the 1200 word maximum. Perhaps third time is the charm (if I may be allowed a cliche). Perhaps its death and rebirth was meant to be.


Natalie L. Sin said...

Sounds like a very Buddhist story.

Anonymous said...

I've no trouble cutting bits from a story but I would have a heck of a time expanding one if I thought it was already finished. That two guys in a cell story I put up a while ago - I'm intending to re-write it to make my thoughts clearer, and to add a third guy. That's going to expand it. Most of the rest of the time I hack chunks off my writing with glee. Gives my stories a sort of sparse style to them that people don't like, but at least it doesn't take them long to figure that out.

Isn't one of the things they say, that you should write for the market? Or is that one of the things they say you shouldn't do? Either way, rules are made to be broken. Pick a market and deliberately write a new story aimed specifically at it. Don't wait for it to get rejected. Pick another market and do the same. Practice makes perfect is another cliché.

Final thought, how many writers are known for their early rejections? But they all have them.

Aaron Polson said...

Best of luck with the story in its new incarnation. They do tend to evolve (in the case of some of mine, devolve) over time.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Natalie - The blue balloon story is a bit Zen. Story's about a boy of mixed race (India and something) who is soul survivor after apocalyptic event. Seems like a lot for 800 words, but is really just a scene.

Anton - Rejection is my middle I still talking about writing?

Aaron - Thanks for the luck. What goes around, comes around...maybe...