Saturday, August 27, 2011

Miscommunications means missed communication and missed opportunity

 Me after the wedding

Recently, I almost missed a friend's wedding.Bruce mentioned work and then mentioned the wedding and I fused the two conversations in my mind. So I believed Bruce was going to the wedding of the daughter of a co-worker whom I'd never met, much less the daughter. Bruce thought it odd I didn't want to go, but I'm all grown up and can make my own decisions. Then a couple of nights before the wedding, Bruce mentioned something about our friend going to the wedding and I asked, "Why is he going?" When Bruce said, "Because it's his daughter getting married, of course," I was all, "Ohmigod, of course I'm going too!"

This story illustrates how easy it is to miscommunicate and miss the communication and miss an opportunity all in one. This happens more often than you'd think, even in fiction. Ask yourself how many times you've been stopped while reading something and thought, "What does that mean?" Or, "I don't think the author meant those words the way they do mean."There's where the communication has been missed. And the opportunity? Why, to keep the reader reading, of course! Getting bumped from a story is never good and can be catastrophic.

So how to avoid this problem? Beta readers and critique groups both are great--if they are the readers and groups that give solid feedback. Also, set aside the draft and return to it after a pause and you'll find a lot of these mis-communications. Finally, I have a friend who reads everything aloud and swears it works best. This, however, has never worked for me and drives me crazy.

What do you, dear writers, to avoid the dreaded "mis"?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why write short stories? To sell, of course.

 One of the several anthologies I have a short story in.

The world has changed. Selling our words is different now.And it's changing every day. The "old" rule was to not bother writing short stories if you wanted to make a living writing. Oh sure, you might write a few if you had a novel coming out, or for a friend's anthology, or a magazine you loved, but usually, don't bother. Or you'd bother if you were like me and loved writing short stories. But nobody, with a few exceptions, made a living writing short stories.The wisdom was: readers really prefer novels.

POD technology gets cheap.The e-book arrives and takes off. Turns out the "wisdom" was wrong. Turns out readers love to read short stories.When print was all there was it was difficult for readers to find magazines and anthologies, for they were few and far between and often expensive. Even single "famous" author collections were rare. But now many small publishers publish short stories, as a stand alone e-book or in an anthology, or both. Now there are a variety of online magazines, for all sorts of tastes, that publish short stories. Some of those magazines do both print and electronic, now.

This post came to mind because I'm doing a talk on "Selling the Short Story" to the Twin Falls Chapter of the Idaho Writers League. And boy, now the writer can really sell those shorts! I'm published/being published in several magazines/anthologies/e-book stand alones. Including a print version of a previously e-published short story by Big Pulp.

So write short and sweet and sell!