Wednesday, August 18, 2010

11 WOW Wednesday: L.J. Boldyrev on Short Stories

Time for Wow Wednesday! This week's guest is L.J. Boldyrev. She's a YA writer, lover of motorcycles, elephants, Elvis Presley, and really big dogs. Also extraordinarily bad at math. She can be found on http://www.twitter.com/ljboldyrev, blogging at ljboldyrev.blogspot.com, or on her shared blog sistersinscribe.blogspot.com.


Writing Short to Lengthen Your Resume

Short story writing isn’t a requirement for getting your novel published, but it’s a fun process. And working with an editor on an anthology is great practice for when you do get that contract.

I’d first heard about the small independent UK publisher and their call for submissions on the SCBWI discussion boards. They were looking for YA supernatural stories, my favorite kind. I set my work-in-progress, a YA historical, aside, opened up a new word document, and got started.

Within an hour I had my first draft. I didn’t have my critique group at the time so I submitted the entire story to the SCBWI board and let them tear it apart. Some comments were encouraging, some insulting, but all were for the betterment of my story. I made some changes. Then I had a writer friend read it and she tore it up. I made more changes. By the end of the day, I sent it in. I honestly didn’t expect it to go anywhere, but a few months went by and I got an acceptance letter from the publisher. Best day of my writing life.

Then I got the editor’s notes.

Parts of my story raised too many questions that even I couldn’t answer. I figured it’s a short story. It’s impossible to convey every tiny detail in a limited word count. The reader just has to fill in the blanks.

I was wrong.

I rewrote it, but I didn’t make all of the suggested changes. I felt they would have changed the story too much. The editor wrote back, said she liked what I’d done but there were still a few things that weren’t working. She agreed to let me keep the one part of my story, but asked that I went about it a different way. I did. She liked it. We were both happy.

A few months went by with short updates on the process of the book—the cover design, the layout, the author bios—and then I got a pdf file of the book. This was my last chance to proofread my story and make sure it was exactly as it should be. I spotted one small issue with my byline, but aside from that it looked great, so I sent it back in with my okay.

I finished the story in September 2009, but the book wasn’t printed until July 2010. Ten months may not seem like a long time, but when you’re waiting to see your words in print it feels like eons. It is definitely worth the wait.

Now the thought of working with an editor on my novel doesn’t seem so scary, and it’s nice to have something to put on a query letter. Whether you’ve dabbled in short story writing, or you’ve never considered it until now, go for it! You never know.

11 comments:

  1. Good for you, L.J. I love writing short stories and have considered doing just what you've done. I have a few--paranormal at that--stories just waiting to be read by a minion. Maybe I should finally take the plunge and try it. Thanks for this post, and good luck to you always.

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  2. Thanks for sharing L.J. I always admire people who can write short stories. It's so hard to write a complete story in so few words. Good luck.

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  3. NICE! I think short stories are a vey challenging genre!

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  4. Great suggestion. Too bad I've never been into short stories as a reader. Probably stems back to all those boring ones they made us read in high school. I love long stories where I can fall in love with the characters over a longer period.

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  5. I made a lengthy reply, but it didn't go through. Rawr!

    Salarsen, I know Wyvern is asking for vampire shorts for their anthology and Rebel books (both indie UK pubs) is asking for faerie shorts for an anthology--that one ends this month, I think. You should look around and try to find a home for some of your shorts! You never know.

    Natalie, Christine, thank you!

    Stina, I don't care to read shorts either, lol! I don't think I'll be writing any more for publication, I'm focusing on my novel(s), but it was fun!

    Thanks again!

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  6. Such an interesting point you raise about assuming the short story format could leave it up to the reader to figure out the missing bits. That's what I love about my critique group - being pushed beyond the parameters of my initial premise. I have some short stories sitting around in a file. I keep meaning to make a few tweaks and submit them. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  7. Yeah Lacey! I totally agree. I really learned a lot from writing and publishing short stories and poetry. I plan on continuing to do so if and when I sell a book!

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  8. I totally agree! Besides, you were writing, which is what we do! All those things add up to writing credits, and you've got yourself a gem to add to your letters. Congratulations.

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  9. Yay Lacey! I wish I enjoyed writing short stories, but I do love reading them and know yours is awesome. :)

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  10. Hi Lacey,
    It was interesting to hear your process. Cyberspace seems like a very small world sometimes - I wasn't even looking you up, yet we have a story in the same anthology!

    Best of luck with your novel. I'm meant to be writing one or three of those too, some days, but they all seem to turn into short stories.

    Lynley

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  11. It's fascinating hearing about how different every ones journeys are!

    BEST OF LUCK with your novel!

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