Friday, February 6, 2009

Short Fiction Completed

My distasteful experience these past two week with a non-haggling dealer put me in a funk. Whenever I’m blue, I find solace in writing. To feel better, I picked up my short story manuscript and put on the finishing touches. That is to say, I consider it polished enough for a second go-round with my two mentors.

Last month, while attending a meeting of my writer’s group, my lady mentor asked if she had been too brutal in her critique of my draft.
“It was a cake walk,” I told her “compared to my writer/editor friend.”
Indeed, her comments and critique were of great value to me. While I had a good grasp of manuscript preparation, I needed more direction with how to present dialog. She gave me information about reference material and resources I could use. Mr. Mentor on the other hand did not frost the cake at all.
“Some of your sentences are too punctuated.”
By that comment he did not mean punctuation, but rather he thought them too staccato.
“You transitioned too quickly and need to give more detail following this paragraph.”

Yes, I did take some liberty with the advice that you should not spell everything out for the reader. In doing so, I left much out that had the reader confused and having to guess at too many details. The staccato sentences were a result of being cautioned against long and rambling sentences.

This advice was given to me over a month ago, but as in most of my writing, things happen in my head first before they end up on the paper. My first problem is in the more detail that is needed. If I add the detail, I will end up with more words than is the definition of short story. What to cut? Every writer feels their every sentence a gem. However, I knew there would be culling. My main character would have to give up a treasure or two I had put in his mouth.

Before I added or cut, I gave the manuscript to a few friends. This is a gut wrenching ordeal. Once you release your treasure, it is no longer the glimmering thing you believe it to be. To date, I have only a one-third response from these friends. The feedback from the one-third is positive, with commentary on particular points. This is encouraging and helps me believe I am on the right tract with the story line. The silence from the other two-thirds is what sent me back to the drawing board with post-its of the most brutal feedback from Mr. Mentor.

Writing fiction has been an interesting exercise. While developing the story line the characters came alive. Their dialog began to flow from them in ways that surprised even me. At times I found that I was no longer in charge of who said what, and that the characters themselves were directing the show. I’m going to continue to polish the story and find a place to have it published. My lady mentor has already suggested I read aloud an excerpt of dialog between two characters she particularly liked. You can’t get better feedback than that!

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