Writing Short to Lengthen Your Resume
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.