The RNA conference was amazing, as usual. And my brain is in post-conference mush, also as usual.I have a rewrite to do by the end of July but I need to catch up on my sleep and detox, first …
I was able to illustrate my talk about short stories with the aid of a visualiser. A magic instrument! It projects anything under it onto the big screen at the front of the room so, instead of writing on a whiteboard, I wrote on a pad under the visualiser. And the audience got to check out my American manicure in glorious colour and in enormous proportion.
My workshop wasn’t about ‘how to write a short story’ in the usual sense, where we talk about a short story being a single episode and the best way to serve that is to give a central character a conflict and make them solve it. In the middle of the page I wrote ‘Get idea’ and ‘write story’ but this workshop began waaay earlier than that: why are you writing this story? What is its purpose?
- To add to your CV with a good competition result?
- To get published?
- To add to your profile (reach new readers/add to your credibility or versatility)
Once you’ve decided that, you select any appropriate target:
- Newsstand magazines
- Small press magazines
- The Internet
Now is the time to do any necessary market study:
- For magazines read their output, get an picture of the typical reader from the adverts and regular columns, study the fiction and ignore the Readers’ Own stories, send for any guidelines or find them online
- For radio, listen to the output, seek any guidelines. Studying this market is like walking through shifting sands
So we’re now back at ‘get idea’ and ‘write story’. Except that your idea might well have changed, by now, to one with a specific purpose and for a particular target. You’re already well on the way to success.
So, you write your story, one that will fit the requirements of the target.
Then you polish/edit and rewrite. You might put it away for a week and read it aloud, then polish/edit and rewrite again.
When you send it out, with maybe a covering letter, or the fee if it’s for a competition, you send out the most polished clean manuscript it is in your power to create. And you record when and where you sent it, so that you don’t have a durr-brain moment and send it to the same target again.
Then you wait. And, for some markets, wait and wait and wait.
You might never get a result, particularly if you’ve entered the story for a comp, where only the winners are informed.
But what if you get a rejection? (The whole class knew this one.) You send it out again, to another target, rewriting if necessary. And you repeat that process as required.
If you get a letter suggesting changes – make them! Send it back! Ask for it to be read again! You are approaching the end of the tunnel.
And if you receive an acceptance – joy! Accept the offer. Wait until your story is published and then show off a lot. Then maybe you could send it to an overseas market and sell it again …
The conference is a lot of fun and you can see some of my fellow romantic novelists here. One of the absolute pleasures of an RNA conference is the opportunity to do exactly what we were doing – kicking back, swapping information, soaking up the sun, networking … Sometimes the writer has to get out of the garret.
This not-very-good photo is of ‘our’ part of the Greenwich University. Cool, or what?
- Upcoming event:
- I will be appearing at the Writers’ Cafe, Liverpool Street, London, on the evening of 16th August. See here for full details. It would be great if you could come.