Thursday, July 23, 2015

When A Story Doesn't Work

The poster above illustrates a situation I've been in more than once. If a story doesn't appear to work well while writing it. we often set it aside to work on later. This is a positive action unless it's buried in your files and you never go back to work on it. You can wait just so long.

Maybe you know what's wrong but it takes too much hard work to fix it. Everyone gets lazy at times and writers are no different.  Perhaps you have no idea why the story doesn't click. It might need other eyes on it.

I have been working on a fiction short story for a few years. I pull it out of my files every now and then and tweak it here and there. I've entered it in my annual state authors contest twice and it went nowhere. Back in the files it went.

I told myself things like Maybe it's a dumb story. I obviously cannot write adult fiction. I'd better stick to creative nonfiction. The characters are trite. The situation in the story is not believable. When a story doesn't appear to work, we dream up all kinds of reasons. Some might be true while others are a figment of a runaway imagination.

I saw a call for submissions that brought my old story to mind. I wondered if it might work if I spent a little more time on it. I did another edit, tweaking it in a few places. Then I subbed it to my online writing group for critique.

So far, only two people have critiqued the story. Wonder of wonders--they both had good things to say. One said it brought a lump to her throat. I loved hearing that I'd been able to bring out emotion in a reader. The second critter said "it reads beautifully and is filled with emotion and heart. I loved reading it."

Hearing the nice comments of two fine writers gave me a different perspective on the story. Suddenly, I no longer doubted whether I should submit for publication again. It didn't place in the two contests I'd entered, maybe because there were other stories that were better than mine. That doesn't mean it's no good. Only three can place and dozens are submitted.

The critiquers also pointed out a few spots where things weren't completely clear. The writer knows what happened but the reader needs it spelled out a little better. One suggested expanding on one area. Easy enough to do. The trouble spots they found were all minor things.

One more edit, and I'll submit the story to the editor I have in mind. Let's hope he likes it, too.

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