Happy Saturday! Today, we’re wrapping up eight weeks of focus on short fiction. I hope it’s been helpful for you. I’ve not seen a lot of questions, so I’ll assume I’ve covered it well enough to meet your needs.
Last week, I talked about getting through the first draft and then sending it out to your beta readers. This week, I’m going consolidate the next steps mostly because they’re things I’ve said before in earlier posts (for instance, my blog series So You Wanna Write Your First Novel.)
So let’s jump in.
During the time that your story is out being looked at by your beta readers go start the process of figuring out your next story. Why? Well, first, it’s a good work habit to use your time as effectively as you can and produce as much “inventory” as you can. Second, it’s good practice and the more you practice, the better you’ll get. And third: If you’re thinking about the next story, you’ll be less likely to worry about this one or be so attached to it that you can’t hear what your beta readers tell you about it. So go find that next idea and start twisting it into a story.
Once your beta readers get back to you, it’s time to revise. And usually it’s a good idea — at least until you become more comfortable with the process that works best for you — to read the story yourself and make your own notes in it before you read your beta reader comments. When you read their comments, keep in mind that not all beta readers have the same strengths. So know their strengths and listen for what they have to say about the areas they are strong in. Also, if five out of seven beta readers didn’t understand what you were doing in a scene, it is likely that you need to re-work that scene. Don’t be afraid to challenge or ask questions…but also, don’t be afraid to just listen. And ultimately, it’s your story. You get to decide.
I try to reduce the number of passes I take on a story as much as possible. I want to get it as right as possible and then let it go out into the world. It can always be a better story, especially if you are growing and stretching as you practice. So don’t fall into the Never Done trap. Take a pass. Take two passes. Go through the document, make the changes. Double check your essentials: A person readers can care about in a place that readers can believe in facing a problem that readers can identify with…with the character taking direct action upon their problem.
When you think you’ve finished the revision consider reading it aloud to hear how it flows. You will probably catch things you’ve missed. And if you’re feeling too shaky about it, you can always ask someone else to read it. But here, I don’t recommend going back to the people you’ve already heard from. Get some new eyes on it.
When it’s done, call it done and put it out to market. If you didn’t have a market in mind when you started, drop over to www.ralan.com and find one. Follow the instructions in the submission guidelines, log it in your spreadsheet (where it went and when with a place for you to log the date you heard back and what its status was.)
And once it’s out to market, go celebrate. You have another paper child. A bit of intellectual property of your very own. Another story for your inventory. Do something fun for yourself to reward your productivity. Because you did it…it’s in the mail!
And after celebrating, go draft that next story that you were scheming on before you started revision on this one.
So those are my thoughts on that. As always, if you have any questions please leave them in the comments.
Next week is theme week here at Genreality.
Trailer Boy out!