First week of June has come and gone. Here’s how I did.
This week it’s another nugget of wisdom from Stephen King.
“Give me just enough information so that I can lie convincingly.”
I’m currently writing a novella (more on that below) where I am incredibly familiar with the subject matter. In this case, it’s Major League Baseball. The problem with writing a subject you know well is there’s always the danger that you give too much information for the causal reader because you’re geeking out or not enough information because you expect folks to have the same level of knowledge you do. For example, in a story about baseball, I might write two paragraphs on something like why a team employs a defensive shift, which is not exactly important to the story but I got caught up in the joy of writing about a thing I find interesting. Then I might drop a term like pitch framing or spin rate without any explanation, leaving casual readers wondering what the fuck I’m talking about. What King is getting at, I think, is when you research a subject and get just enough information to make it sound authentic to a casual reader. Because you’re by no means an expert on the subject yourself, the tendency to commit the two sins above is less prevalent. For example, I wrote a story about counting cards in blackjack a few years ago, and I studied the subject for a good week before I started. Now, I am absolutely not ready to go turn the odds on the casino any time soon, but I picked up the basics of how it’s done and some of the lingo, which I worked into the story. One reviewer, unfamiliar with blackjack, lauded the authenticity of my explanations of how card counting worked. That tells me I hit the sweet spot and, well, as King put it, lied convincingly. 🙂
A very good week of submissions.
June is starting out on the right foot. I sent 5 submissions last week and had an acceptance from The Arcanist. I received four rejections too, but overall that’s a good week. I’m sitting at 47 total submissions for the year, which puts me comfortably on pace for 100 subs. I’d like to get to 54 by the end of June for an average of 9 subs per month. Based on this week, that seems likely.
Still working on a commission for Privateer Press in their new Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika setting. Last week, I finished the fifth and final short story I’d been contracted to write, and this week I’ll start (and likely finish) the first drafts of five 1,000-word vignettes I owe them. These should go very quickly. I have some prior experience writing 1,000-word stories. 🙂
Last week I started what I thought was going to be a short story, an idea I’d been kicking around for a while. Well, I’m 6,000 words in and barely out of the first act. In other words, the short story is on it’s way to being a novella. It titled “Effectively Wild” and combines two of my favorite things: baseball and overused horror tropes. Of course, writing a novella severely limits your options for traditional publication, as many markets simply don’t publish fiction of that length. But, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
My flash fiction anthology Night Walk & Other Dark Paths features 40 of my best stories. You can pick up a copy of your very own in print or eBook by clicking the cover below.
For an inside peek into the anthology and its stories, check out the Night Walk Wednesday feature right here on the blog. I’ll give you all the juicy rejectomancy stats on individual stories from the collection.
Finish up the commission work for Privateer Press, keep working on the novella, and, as always, send out more submissions.
That was my week. How was yours?
For your short story, how about using footnotes for the relevant terms? Detailed explanations were a very 19th century thing, but I’ve seen footnortes in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. The footnote might just be a reference to a glossary.
I think footnotes can work with certain types of fiction and subjects.. Things that are incredibly obscure or deal with certain hard sciences make a lot of sense. It feels a little off for baseball, though, especially since I think there is absolutely a happy medium to be found.
I think I pulled off that happy medium in “Night Games”, which also deals with baseball.
Yes, I’ll just add that footnotes have the advantage of not interrupting the flow of the read if you already know the term (e.g. on a re-read of the story) and alert the unknowing reader that this is a special term that you have gone to the trouble of explaining.
There’s always a need for more baseball themed speculative fiction. Maybe the novella could anchor a new short story collection.
Ooh, novella anchoring a short story collection. There’s an idea.