Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Short story Sandwich

I've been thinking a lot about short story writing again recently. I've also been reading a lot of them too. I've always thought that in order to be able to write good, publishable short stories you need to read them first. There can be no substitute for sitting down and reading the magazines from cover to cover that carry fiction. You can pick up so much information from them that you can use to inform your own stories. It's not just the structure or pace of the story, or the subject matter, dialogue or theme. It's more subtle than that.

For instance, I know that a short story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, rather like a sandwich. But in some of my previous attempts at short stories I can now see that sometimes I had an open sandwich with plenty of middle and a reasonable end but with little in the way of a starting point.A story that would certainly get your fingers in a mess if it were a short story because there was no top to hold in the mayonnaise and pickles. It's amazing what you think about and discover when you're reading other people's short stories!

I had a light bulb moment the other day as I was reading the new Take A Break Fiction Feast. I don't have these intense flashes of inspiration and insight very often, but when I do, they are usually a good 'un! It wasn't the stories in particular that gave me the buzz, excellent though they are. They partly showed me where I have been not stepping up to the mark with my writing  - I can see that the quality of my short stories aren't quite there yet and that's okay as it's something I can work on. But what it also made me realise was that previously, before I took a break from writing to complete my teaching assistant course work, I was actually trying too hard with my short stories.  I was trying so hard to produce short stories of a quality that might be publishable that I lost sight of the most important factor in short story writing  -  the process, or more specifically, the enjoyment of that process. If we don't enjoy writing our short stories, why should we expect the editor and our readers to enjoy reading them? It's brilliant that a short break from short stories and allowing yourself to take a step back can make you focus with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of understanding and energy that wasn't there before.

What was also interesting was the conversation that I had when one of my fellow writing friends came round today and we discussed our writing. She had done a piece of work which I read and we discussed it. I also showed her my Work In Progress folder (it's not quite as impressive as it sounds as there's only one short story in there at the moment!) I told her the plot of my story and I was delighted as it gave her goose bumps. It's aimed at Take A Break's Fiction Feast - spine chiller section. So the fact she had that reaction without reading the story and just from the plot was encouraging. 

We really shouldn't write in isolation. If it wasn't for my writer's group, the splinter group and the on-line blogging writing community I don't know where I'd be. Who else would understand the roller coaster of emotions with rejections followed by acceptances followed by rejections again? Who better to celebrate and commiserate with than the very people who are going through exactly what we are?

Geraldine Ryan has two stories in the current issue of Fiction Feast. Sally Quillford has some stories in, if I remember correctly, three Excite anthologies. But it's only because they read a lot and write a lot and send their stuff out there and use the support they have from other writers, mixed in with a generous splash of talent that they are so successful. They've also been very supportive towards me and a lot of other writers out there, for which we are, I'm sure, grateful. I know I am. We all need that support and friendship.

With these observations and thoughts my plan of action from this week on is to finish the final edit of the spine chiller and get it subbed. I've been sitting on it for far too long. I'm also going to get started on a couple of other short stories I've had noted in my book for too long that are just dying to be typed up into something better. I'm also preparing for NaNo 2010  www.nanowrimo.org Oh yes, I signed up today ( I like to be punished! Maybe I should try writing for Excite too ;0)  )

Whatever you write, have fun writing it and don't forget to seek socialisation with other writers every now and then: trust me  -  it helps!

Julie xx


Carole Anne Carr said...

Well done you, keep up the good work... hugs..

Julie P said...

Hi, Carole!

Thank you. You and I both know how much hard work goes into writing - you moreso with your publishing and self marketing efforts too!

Julie xx

Sue Ross said...

Great post Julie.
Followed your link for nanowrimo at 2am.
Have woken up to the realisation that I've gone and registered for it.

Diane Perry said...

Fantastic post Julie, I love the idea of the sandwich, I love those tripple one's but then I am greedy. Guess you can keep going with layers with a good short story though.

I think it's amazing that you are doing Nanowrimo AGAIN!! My goodness what a brave writer you are.
Brilliant - good luck!
Di xx

Julie P said...

That's it now, Sue - there's no backing out now! Welcome aboard - it's going to be a lot of hard work but a lot of fun too. The only thing I was doing at 2am was sleeping!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Hi, Di,

you can have multilayers in your story so pile it up!

Yes - well I didn't really have a choice on the matter with NaNo as I sort of volunteered in my NaNo article in Writers' Forum Sue HM, Jenny and Suzanne Jones to do it again this year. So that's that!
Have no idea what I might write about, but, then again, I didn't know until NaNo started what I was going to write either. I still managed the 50,000 words and then went up to 75,000 though! So it can be done!

Julie xx