Have I ever pulled out old stories and reworked them? Yep! Could I get all of them published? Not always! I did get one old YA short adventure story published and then created others that the editor liked and published. But still other short stories weren’t published. Why? Now if I knew that, I’d have many stories published, wouldn’t I?
Writers use what they’ve learned and read to create their stories. Yet each story is different. And it can be difficult for the writer to see why editors prefer one story over another. Sometimes the writer has neglected to give the reader [or editor] key information in the story; some context, some explanation of why the reader should care about this particular character with this particular problem in this particular scene. I know I have.
It is very difficult for writers to find what’s missing in their own work. This is why all writers need critique partners and editors. Someone who hasn’t read the story before can spot what might be missing in story logic or emotion. As the story’s creator, the writer knows everything about the story. It’s just that sometimes the writer forgets to tell the reader through story action or inner dialogue key pieces of the story puzzle.
I continue to forget to add “how the character feels” about a particular incident in the story. Emotion is as necessary to short fiction as it is to longer fiction. The reader needs to care about your protagonist in order to keep reading. Another thing I seem to do wrong is summarize story action in my full-length manuscripts instead of dramatizing it. Not all action. Just some of it. I think it’s because I write a lot of short fiction. As writers, we can’t show everything in our stories because that would be boring to the reader. But we need to show key scenes—fully fleshed out with emotion, dialogue, and action—whenever the protagonist goes through any emotional change or has a revelation about the story problem, either internal or external. The reader wants to be part of the story as it unfolds.
All the luck with getting your own stories published in 2017. Thanks for stopping by Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. Please follow my blog. It’s greatly appreciated.
This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s SupportGroup. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.
24 thoughts on “Insecure Writers want to know: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?”
I know just what you mean. I had a lot of margin notes during my last big revisions that read something like, "Shouldn't the character be feeling something about this situation? Maybe you should tell us what it is."
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, M.J. You know, I don't even see that the emotion is missing any more. It's very disconcerting. Thanks so much for your comment. Please stop by again.
I think editors are unsung heroes. My editor always always always makes my work so much better.
Yes, thank God for critique partners. They catch all sorts of things we miss.
There are just so many sides of writing that are needed and have to be there to make a great story. Its why I need checklist in revision, lol.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit
The love of stories is so subjective. What one person loves about a story, another might hate. A story may be rejected, not because something was wrong with it, but simply because another story was liked better.
This is a fact, Karen. Editors see what isn't working in our writing. And because of that, they are worth their weight in gold. Thanks so much for visiting Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. It's greatly appreciated.
A fresh pair of eyes, Alex. All writing needs a fresh pair of eyes. Thanks so much for visiting Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. It's greatly appreciated.
You are so right, Juneta, and a checklist is a great tool in revision. Thanks so much for visiting Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. It's greatly appreciated. All the best to you.
I agree with this, Lynda. Cricket just rejected a YA adventure short story, yet I thought it was just as good as the last one they had accepted. Being an insecure writer, I always think the worst. Thanks for your comment. Always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. All the best to you.
I agree with you that we need critique partners – they are a huge help.
Hi Victoria, thanks for visiting my blog. Fresh eyes really do help one's writing. I am so thankful for being in our crit group. Without them I would never have submitted my work to publishers. Best wishes on your writing projects!
What an excellent post filled with great advice, Victoria! Your points about editors is spot on. Happy writing in 2017!
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Patsy. Thank you so much for following my blog. It is greatly appreciated. Critique partners are essential to writers. Thanks so much for your comment. Please stop by again.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing! It was a pleasure visiting your blog today. Critique groups are very helpful to writers. Thanks so much for your good wishes. Good luck with your writing as well. Please stop by again.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate them. Editors are a necessary part of writing. Always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Happy writing to you too.
Hi Victoria … this makes me think of the Fermor books I've been reading – you'll probably have seen them on the blog. His descriptive pieces are brilliant – yes he's not writing a story … but I can 'see' the lands … and then the other book I've been reading (Zilinsky) about which I'll be posting more …
We just don't need to leave the reader … wondering, or wandering … we need to bring them in – so good luck with your stories … cheers Hilary
Hello, Hilary! Always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Writing needs to be a visual art. And the medium to work with is words. I love learning from your blog. So I'll look forward to learning about Zilinsky.
It is hard to see what's missing in your own stories. It's definitely great to have someone review your work. Good luck with your writing!
Hello Victoria, I think dramatizing story action gives us a chance to flesh out what's happening and pay closer attention to the details of a scene. That said, I don't think summarizing is necessarily bad for the first drafts because it gives you the chance to see what is happening in an outline format.
Thank you, Michelle. Sometimes I would say it's next to impossible for me to see what’s missing in my stories. Always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. All the best to you.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Cynthia. I think it's always important to understand fully what is happening in the story and where you are in time and place. Thank you for your tips here about dramatization and summary. Please stop by Adventures in Writing again. All the best to you!
All good advice. It is easy to forget key elements because the story lives in our head and we still have access to all that information as we edit our own work.
It's true, Tamara. Since we know the story, we have difficulty seeing what's missing in our manuscript. Thank you so much for visiting Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. Your kind words are greatly appreciated. All best to you.