12 January 2016


For the last month or so and continuing for the next month or so, I've been writing one short story a week. It's an interesting exercise. With limited time I really have to think about the story before I begin writing. Some elements I consider:
  • Who is the main character? What is his/her/its external and internal problem initially?
  • What does he/she/it do to solve the problem(s)?
  • What is the external plot resolution?
  • What is the internal plot resolution? What is the emotional oomph of the story?
  • What is the theme, setting, world, time, big-picture of the story?
I do this all mentally; I don't write anything down until I know the general answers to these questions. IMHO, once you start writing, you've committed/trapped yourself into something. Then, when I finish the first draft I ask What is this story really about? Usually I can't answer this last question until I've finished the first draft. Often I have to edit the second draft to make it fit in a little better with this really about answer. So, at the end I'm left with what I think is a decent story.

And then...

When I submit a story to my critique group every time they raise good questions. Every time! Like "Why does the protagonist do this? It's not motivated." or "This plot point is unecessary." or just "This part is confusing."

I relate all this to illustrate the crucial importance of feedback. IMHO every writer needs to get some other eyes on their work. Every writer! Writer friends are ideal for this. Significant others, BFFs, parents, kids, neighbors also work.

At Electric Spec we really wish we had the resources to give feedback on every submission, but we don't. Here on the blog, we will give some general feedback (based on slush) for the rest of the month.

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