Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Proper lumbar support for your short story

Last night my IKEA bed collapsed. As I put it back together, I realized the issue wasn't any fault of my assembly, but rather the fact that IKEA had neglected to put an extra quarter-inch of sheet metal along the sides of the frame to - y'know - hold the fucking bed in place.

Enough swearing. Here comes the writing analogy.

Sometimes, a story looks really good when viewed in all its parts. It's got a nice coat of paint. Girlfriend? Loves it. Frame holds the bed. Read it, and it speaks to your soul.

But then you get in and it just breaks on you, because you forgot to add a quarter-inch of sheet metal.

I'm still re-writing a story for a market that, should it sell, will pay for a few extra lengths of sheet metal so I can "mod" by bed (which is something that makes me so enthusiastic I'm unable to properly convey my excitement in writing). But unlike IKEA customer service, the editor considering my story is a great help; she's shown me what to do to make sure that bed don't collapse no more. That's totally awesome for multiple reasons, but mostly because I'm learning. There's really good feelings to be had when you improve your writing.

Maybe that will make up for the fact that sleeping on my bed right now is as enervating as sleeping beside an IED. And, hey, maybe my writing is just giving me a handyman analogy; something like, cut the unnecessary scenes and add a stupid quarter-inch of sheet metal where the story doesn't hold up.



  1. Now that's a pretty tightly written blog post if I ever did see one. Classic.

    It's always good to have an editor dangling money in front of you as motivation to improve the work. That's the only reason I'd go through the teeth-pulling editing process as opposed to just writing something new and better.

  2. Yeah, I agree with you: it's basically unpossible to be motivated about editing. However! I'm editing a novel right now that I wrote about a year ago. It needs a little work, but the way I see it, fixing the story makes it marketable.


    Definitely better, of course, to write an "unbroken" story the first time. I'm finding Randy Ingermanson's "snowflake" method works incredibly well for outlining, as well as being a great allusion to chaos theory.


  3. As usual, novels and short stories are different mediums. I can justify spending a lot more time editing a 100,000 word novel than I can a 5,000 word short story.

    I didn't comment on your Snowflake post because I wasn't around, but I'll just say it's not for me. I'm inherently rebellious when it comes to fiction, and that's proven too useful to discard.

    Which is all the more strange because I snowflake every bit of public speaking I do. It's that different mediums thing again, I guess.