Okay, gonna try and get back on track with these updates. Here’s last week’s writerly endeavors.
This week’s quote comes from one of my favorite books about the craft, Stephen King’s On Writing.
“In the spring of my senior year at Lisbon High—1966, this would have been—I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.
“I wish I could remember who wrote that note—Algis Budrys, perhaps. Whoever it was did me a hell of a favor. I copied the formula out on a piece of shirt-cardboard and taped it to the wall beside my typewriter. Good things started to happen for me shortly thereafter.”
–Stephen King, On Writing
Like all writing “rules”, this won’t work for everyone, but it’s done wonders for me. I also tend to write puffy in my first drafts. Much of that puffiness is over-explanation of the character’s motivations and way, way too much procedural nonsense with characters crossing rooms and opening doors and sitting on chairs and shit like that. I try to cut as much of that out as I can in my first pass. I did okay with Hell to Play, my current WIP, excising a good 5,500 words, which is around 7% of the total length. The novel is now with my critique partners, and they’ll get me the rest of the way there. I want the leanest, meanest novel I can get when I hand the manuscript over to my agent, and King’s 10% rule is a good place to start.
As I mentioned above, Hell to Play is with my critique partners. The notes so far have been coming in are encouraging. There are, of course, many things I’ll need to address in the next revision, but I feel like this book is in much better shape at this point in the game than my last novel, Late Risers, which is likely destined to be a trunk novel without a serious rewrite. I feel it in my bones that this novel is better than the last. It’s tighter, the writing more honest, and the story one I’ve wanted to tell for a while. Does that mean fame and fortune await? Probably not, but I like my chances with this novel more than with the last.
Last week, I finally got my ass in gear and sent out a decent number of submissions.
Six subs last week is great, and it gave me eight for the month and 59 for the year. Still off my pace of 100 for the year, but I think I can catch up. The two rejections were form rejections of no real note, but they did push me closer to a rejection milestone I’ll discuss at length in an upcoming blog post. The acceptance is a good one, and even better, it keeps my streak of at least one acceptance per month in 2020 intact. I’ll discuss the acceptance and the publication below.
The acceptance last week was from The Molotov Cocktail. I managed to win the Flash Odyssey contest with my story “Toward the Sun.” I’ve been entering the Molotov flash contests for six years, and though I’ve placed and even cashed a number of times, I’ve never taken home the big prize. It was nice to get that win, and I think the story is one of the better pieces of flash I’ve written in a long time. You can read “Toward the Sun” by clicking the link below.
Here are my writing goals for this week.
And that was my week. How was yours?