M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Getting the Most Out of the Short Stuff

Fiction Lessons:
Have had a couple short story collections sitting in the to-review pile [while I read a super-long mystery].  I enjoy reading anthologies for the mix of favorite authors and gaining new insights into characters I enjoy reading about.  1)  Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery and Fantasy edited by Dana Stabenow -- gave me a double fix of the two genres I read most.  2)  Songs of Love and Death edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois -- offered a potpourri of star-crossed lovers, all beautifully rendered by authors I seek out in the book stores.

One thought struck me as I read the stories:  how easy it was to watch the pieces of plot moving back and forth until the author resolved the problem --  happily or unhappily, as the case might be.  Sharon Shinn's short story, "The House of Seven Spirits" illustrates my point.  [in Unusual Suspects]

A lady, who was in the midst of a divorce, willingly moved into a haunted house since she couldn't see having a ghost hanging around was worse than living with a jerk while they tried to untie the knot.  Only she discovers the house contained seven ghosts, each with a different take on the murder/suicide that's the center of the story.  The clues lead you from one conclusion to another as the facts/interpretations are discovered.  You don't quite see them on the journey, but when the tale ends, you do. 

If you want to study how to develop plot twists, this story is a great primer.  It's short and, once you've read the story, it's easy to see under the magician's bandana.       

Web Promotion & Other Stuff:
Found a group blog about the intricacies of e-publishing from the readers/reviewer's point of view.  MarkG was looking for a e-horror to review without much success.  His adventures are an interesting read.  If nothing else,  his experiences gives writer's a heads-up on what not to do. 

He also made a comment about a beginning writer might have a salable novel if they removed the first three chapters.  I LOLed because I've done the opposite.  I removed the first three chapters and sold them.  The first Half-Elven novel still languishes.

A recent critiquing session spent a lot of time on description.  How much is enough?  Then, Mary Kole, an agent at the with the Andrea Brown Agency, did a blog on writing description.  If you're getting ready to revise, you might take a look to double check on some of the things agents look for.  As for me, I'm glad she sort of agreed with us.  --  No, we didn't cover all the same points but enough of them to cover the basics.

Then, while thinking of revising, you might check out Mac Wheeler's blog.  He gives a great picture that demonstrate the difference between "showing and telling".  It even puts "backstory" in its place.

What constitutes "progress"?  I work on my stuff every day, but I'm revising.  I'm starting to get the writing itch, though.  I'm wondering what will pop out when I actually let go.  I've several ideas fermenting in my idea files which keep nagging me while I give Wiggles his "morning lap time".

Another annoying part of writing:  studying the markets.  Just got through I bunch of market round-ups looking for short story publications that are interested in the stuff I write.  What a time slurp.  Finding out who they are, what they pay/etc., on to the AW Water Cooler to check the rep, and try to get an idea of what they prefer.  Fast response times are appreciated.  --  I'm still in the process of doing the same for small fantasy publishers.

Actually, my writing time is getting eaten by my life.  A good friend, without children, went into Hospice care, and I'm one of the legal care monitors.  While that's under control with sadness, I'm feeling guilty about the AZ challange.  I just don't have time to blog every day -- even though I asked at two difference places to be removed from the list.  If anyone knows how to get me off the list so I'm not "blogging under false pretenses", I'd appreciate it.  Hey, Steve ... are you out there?

The fruit trees are budding under the bedroom windows, and the old man was feeling so romatic, he left the first dandelion of Spring on my plate.

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