Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Exercise Part VII

Take a look back at the stories you’ve written over the past week. You should have five completed pieces:

* The 500 word flash fiction on the first article you pulled;
* The 1200 word piece on the second article you chose;
* The 1500 word piece on the third article left, with a character from one of the first two stories making an appearance;
* A story combining elements of the remaining three articles, up to 5000 words;
* A first person story from one of the characters in any of the previous stories.

Are there any corresponding themes to them, or is each piece a stand alone? Do you have material you’d like to combine for a larger project, or do you want to send each piece on its own way?

You have a selection of pieces in a variety of lengths. Now, you have to go back and polish them.

If you’ve decided the pieces are stand-alones:

Take the two shortest stories and work on revisions this week. Talk to other writers about them; polish them; revisit Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Turn these two pieces into the best they can be. If it needs several revisions, keep going. Work and work and work. Put it away for two days, and then take another look.

Simultaneously, research markets. Get out the Writers’ Market or go online and research magazines. You’re not going to submit quite yet --- please be patient and work with me on this – but you’re doing your background work.

Put the title of each story on the top of a sheet of paper, and list potential markets for it. It’s not about where you’d like to be published – think of yourself as a matchmaker, trying to find the soul mate for your story.

Once the entire list is written, for each story, go back and decide which publication is your first choice, second choice, etc. If you’ve made your list on the computer, you can re-sort it; if you’ve handwritten it, just number each market clearly so that you can follow your list, or rewrite the list.

If you’ve decided all the stories are related and are part of a bigger piece:

Now is the time for you to build your foundation, in order to build the piece. Look at the stories; find the connecting themes. Figure out who your protagonists and antagonists are. If you like to do character sketches, do them now. Figure out, loosely, where each of these five events takes place in your overall narrative. Figure out what else you want in the narrative. The stories are no longer stories, but scenes or series of scenes. Sit down and write at least one more scene per day, even if you’re not quite sure yet where to put it.


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