Short story or first draft?

inside pages of the book A curious incident of the dog in the night time

Recently I’ve been noticing a trend. More and more writers have been writing short stories and then blowing them up into full novels instead of writing first drafts.

I have to admit, I’ve done that before too. In my novel, It’s a stony road through Hell, it was originally written as a short story and then years later I re-wrote it as a short-ish novel. It made a surprisingly high quality final piece. Usually I have to re-write a piece over and over again just to get it to be kind of readable, but from the short story starting point it came together fairly easily.

its-a-stony-road-through-hell-coverThe writer I heard about most recently doing this is Isaac Marion, author of Warm Bodies. Evidently, the story was originally written as a seven page short story (practically a flash fiction) and it only really covered what an internal monologue might be for a zombie. Later, he expanded on it to create an entire post-apocalyptic world for the main characters to live in. I think it’s amazing how he took just seven pages and turned it into a 239 page novel.

My short story of ISRTH started out significantly longer. I’m not sure I even doubled my word count.

But it really shows what you can do, if you have a good starting point. See, I think that’s the whole point of starting with a short story. You get to start with something that’s already good.

Writing a novel is hard. Writing a good novel is even harder. They’re big, they’re meandering, and they spiral out of control quickly. How novels are usually written is a writer writes the first draft and it’s terrible. Let’s face it, even first drafts from great authors are pretty bad. Then the writer is supposed to take this bad writing and re-write it over and over again until it’s good. The problem is your starting point is with a whole lot of bad writing.

IMG_0263In contrast, short stories are easy to write because they are so much smaller. It’s kind of like the difference between wrestling with a tiger vs. wrestling with a kitten. Best of all, short stories are easy to write well the first time around. So, if you start with a short story, you might not have much to work with, but it’s all high quality. All you have to do is expand on it.

Have you ever blown up a short story into a novel? Was it a blow-out or did it turn nuclear? Please share in the comments area below.

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Writer in waiting

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To wait or not to wait, that is the question.

Finally, I’m coming up to the end of writing my fourth book My Bloody Revenge! and I really want to edit it right away. The only problem is I already know I do a much better job editing if I wait for a while first. In fact, the longer I wait the better I seem to do editing my own writing. A great example of that is my book It’s a stony road through Hell, I actually wrote the book years ago. I didn’t rediscover my old story until recently, and then a few months ago I edited it and published it. And hands down, it’s the best edit job I’ve ever done on my own writing.

img_0235When I compare my earlier books (that I didn’t wait to edit) to “ISRTH”, the difference is so obvious. After editing It’s a stony road through Hell, the plot was really clear, the main character had personality without being over the top, and the imagery supported the emotional environment of the main character really well. When I was done editing ISRTH, I read through my manuscript and thought, “Yep, that’s the story I wanted to tell.”

My earlier books were edited pretty good, but It’s a stony road through Hell was edited so much better.

I know that my work really shines when I give it time to age and polish it, but waiting is so hard! I want to see my books published right now. I want to share my stories while I’m still excited about them.

Does anyone have a tip or suggestion on how to not edit your book when your fingers are justa itchin’ for some editin’? If you do, please leave them in the comments area below!

The editor is in!

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I’m not like a regular editor, I’m a writer first.

When I was taking my editor classes I was really surprised about the teacher’s and many of the student’s opinions on editor/author relationships. They definitely saw themselves as the authorities, “the people in charge” and writers as the unruly employees that they had to whip into shape and fix all their work. I thought that was all wrong. Why would the editors be the bosses when it’s the writers that do all the work? I don’t think an editor should fix a writer’s work, because it doesn’t need to be fixed in the first place. When a writer creates a novel, it’s their work of art. Would it be okay to take a ruler and maker to a Picasso to fix it?

As a fellow writer, I believe that you’ve already written your story, how you wanted it, in your own words. As an editor, I’m just going to help you polish it so that everyone can enjoy it.

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I’m not going to focus on grammar, I’m going to focus on clarity. This might sound completely crazy for an editor to do, but very few readers care if the novel they’re reading is grammatically correct. Most readers won’t even notice. And aren’t most authors writing for readers, not for editors? So, in my opinion, if the sentence makes sense, grammatical or not, it stays. They are the words you chose, so they are the best words for your story.

What I am going to do is find the typos, because when you are typing a thousand  words a minute, typos happen. They happen to everyone, even the most seasoned pros. Also, I’ll give you some suggestions that you might want to consider during your rewrite.

img_0233Maybe there’s a writing technique you didn’t even think of that would work well in a scene that’s dragging a little bit? Maybe there’s a bit of dialog that sounds a little stiff, and I know a tip that can help that? I’m not going to take a machete and whack your work of art to bits. I’m going to look for spots you might be having trouble with, and give you the tools you need to improve your own writing in your own words.

The being said, I am currently accepting submissions for light editing, free of charge! Just click on the Send me a manuscript! tab at the top of the home page or click here! Follow the 10,000 word limit, please. I’m most interested in Young Adult and Adult fiction in the Sci-fi, paranormal genre, but I will read almost anything! Please no erotica/porn.