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Short Stories: December 06, 2017 Issue [#8637]

Short Stories

 This week: The "Rules", Part Three
  Edited by: Jay
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This issue:
The "Rules", Part Three
Continuing our exploration of the "Rules" of writing! What about "success"?

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A friend of mine commented to me recently that he was struggling a lot with his writing, and through the course of the conversation, I came to the conclusion that part of his problem was, frankly, that he puts a lot of emphasis on the uncontrolled variables of publishing. On what other people (agents, editors, publishers) think about his work. That there was a tier of success he would consider "acceptable," and no less.

Publishing is hard, friends. It's a difficult business full of rejection and it's easy to start judging oneself by impossible standards, especially when those standards are invisible and are totally out of one's hands. It gets harder, too, as one starts to see success. Aidan Doyle has written an excellent piece, specific to the science fiction, fantasy, and horror publishing world, but still relevant to the process of writing, called the Science Fiction Writer's Hierarchy of Doubt. In it, Doyle expands on the ideals of success that happen as a writer starts their journey. The piece is composed of the nagging questions writers ask themselves as they start to pursue publishing efforts, and how the questions might change over time, but the nagging doubt never really goes away! The transitions range from "Why don’t I have any ideas?" to "When are my family and friends going to stop asking me when I’m going to sell a book?" and more besides. *BigSmile*

I feel like a lot of us, myself included, often think about writing and publishing as a zero-sum game. (There's something to be said for tooling around here on WDC and being totally content with the sense of community! Arguably part of the hierarchy. *Laugh*) Every step of the process feels like:
"If I can just get to X stage of the process, I'd be happy." If I just sold one thing, I'd be happy. If I just got an agent, I'd be happy. Et cetera, et cetera.

(Spoiler alert: it almost never works that way. If you, like me, are actively trying to get into print, there's no "enough" that will be Enough. It's like reviewing; it's very rare to me that I find someone here on Writing.Com who feels like they get "enough" readers, ratings, or reviews... we always yearn for more. *Smile*)

It's really important to temper your expectations in the publishing world to keep your personal expectations not low, but realistic. Hinging your happiness in this business on publishers or other forms of success are a fast recipe for disappointment.

It's really important to reframe these things in ways that they can be meaningful goals rather than a source of great disappointment. Rather than hinging happiness and satisfaction on story sales or acceptances, find some ways to make the process itself more self-satisfying. Instead of focusing on acceptances, for example, focusing on really enjoying the process of crafting a new short story, or from ticking off a list after you send that story out each time.

It's a great time of year to start planning what to do differently in your career for the year to come!

Until next time,
Take care and Write on!

The whole Hierarchy of Doubt (content is definitely 18+ rated, so keep that in mind!) can be found here: http://www.aidandoyle.net/2016/01/06/the-science-fiction-writers-hierarchy-of-do...

This issue's picks!

The Orchid Bride  [13+]
A simple wish for a young girl teaches her so much more.
by iKïyå§amhain

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by A Guest Visitor

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by A Guest Visitor

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by A Guest Visitor

 Confrontation  [E]
A husband finally has the courage to tell his wife he has been cheating on her.
by proximus

Mike's Fondest Desire  [18+]
Mike finally does something he's dreamed about for a long time.
by 🔪Bob Baking Sweeney's Pies

 Death in a Stock Island Bathroom  [18+]
A literary story about an old man, his devoted wife, and a secret revealed.
by jburgesscst

 The Golden Anniversary  [E]
50 years later... (Daily FF Challenge - 7/7/08)
by Jeff

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Feedback from "The "Rules", Part Two

Editing is BLUE writes:
One quick test is Did you use HAS, HAD, WENT, WAS, or any words that don't describe but TELL the reader the action or feeling. It might be passive.

Yep! Eliminating those modifier verbs is an easy way to tighten your writing. Strictly speaking, these words are not "passive voice," contrary to a lot of advice that gets splashed around on here, BUT they are very often clutter words that keep the writing from being tight and active.

Tileira writes:
Reading through the "writing with colour" article linked in the feedback section; I would recommend against using gemstones to denote color unless the writer specifically wants a precious stone simile. "Topaz" for instance is often yellow. It is also commonly blue and white. Quartz and sapphire are the same, and even amethyst can be green.

Great point! I think the given example was more to demonstrate additional sources of color descriptions that are not foods, especially colonial foods like coffee and chocolate. I think it would be worth being very specific, as you suggest, and using these words in scenarios where the gem qualities might offer some extra depth or meaning by conferring some of the stone's qualities to the description being given. *Smile*

Thanks again, everyone! Please let me know if you have a burning question about writing short stories, and I'll be happy to address it in an upcoming issue!

All the best,
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