04 January 2011

What's your story about?

I've been reading a lot of stories in the ElectricSpec slush, for my regular critique group and also for a workshop I'm going to soon, all of which prompt me to ask:
"What's your story about?"

Can you answer that question in one sentence? If not, you may have a problem.

I find with my own writing even when I think I know what a story's about when I start writing, this doesn't always agree with what's on the page at the end.
Usually, after I finish a story I have to revisit what it's really about.

Has anyone else ever had this experience? :)

Two writers who appear not have this problem are our own editors Dave and Betsy. Check out their stories posted now at Short-Story Me! . Betsy wrote one called "The Oath of Brutus" and Dave wrote one called "Spinner". Congrats, guys! :)

In ElectricSpec news, we are trying to get through the current slush. Please recall our next issue comes out February 28, 2011. This means we will close to submissions for the issue on January 15, 2011. Authors in hold-for-voting will hear back from us during the first week of February.

Good luck with your writing goals in 2011!


writtenwyrdd said...

I honestly think that if you cannot make a statement like that about your story, you don't have one yet. That sounds too obvious for words, but it took me a while to figure that out!

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I always start with a tag line for every single thing I write, whether it's an essay or short story or novel.

I think it's important to note that every tag line also has an addendum. For instance: The Oath of Brutus is about a rock star assassin. The addendum is that it's about the affect of death on fame and how a government can use that to its advantage.

lesleylsmith said...

Thanks, Writtenwyrdd. I think it takes us all a while to figure that out!

Sex, I would say what you call the tag line and addendum combined is probably the one sentence. :)

Kieron Heath said...

I really think this one sentence idea is very good advice. If you, the writer, can't describe it then how is the reader supposed to understand your story?

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Well, I think of tag lines in terms of conversation. I've been asked a lot in the past few weeks what The Oath of Brutus is about. It's easy and catchy for me to say "A rock star assassin" or "A rock star assassin who makes friends with his next hit." But when they ask me, as they inevitably do, what made me come up with the idea, I tell them I started thinking about the notion of fame vs death and asked several people what they thought of the effect of death on fame. Older people's answers were markedly different than younger people's, which spurred me to explore the idea further.

Conversationally, and marketing-wise, cuz I want a ripping good story first as a writer and a reader, it feels pretentious to launch into theme in my tag line.

David E. Hughes said...

Thanks for the story plug, Lesley!