Sunday, September 17, 2006


When Doug Cohen, assistant editor over at Realms of Fantasy, interviewed me a few months ago for his blog, he asked if I thought being editor of IGMS had helped my writing. I told him I absolutely thought that it had, primarily because it let me see how much good writing was out there, and that I now understood that “good” was no where near good enough. What I hadn’t yet realized was that this new perspective was a double-edged sword. I now also see all of my own writing through the eyes of an editor, and it makes writing anything a real challenge because it has to live up to a higher standard. And this "editor" thing that is growing in my brain is not shy about saying, Hey, you're going to have to do better than that.

That’s not a bad thing, mind you. Just a lot more work.

Take for instance the short story I’m working on right now (the one I mentioned in my last entry here (Thrusday). It’s called “The Rat Beneath the Ice" and it's due in thirteen days. I was chugging along pretty well until I came to the conclusion that the writing was okay, but the pacing was too slow. I was on page 12 or 13 before I finally showed the “creature” the story was about, so I boiled the opening down from six pages to one, thus moving the main action closer to the beginning.

But in rewriting my beginning I also lost my “hook,” so now I had to re-write the opening so there would be something to catch and hold the reader’s attention. Okay, so I did that and got back to work, writing, writing, writing.

Then, right before I went to bed last night, I re-read my story again, and came to the painful conclusion that although the pacing was better, I was relying too heavily on the curiosity factor without giving the story’s characters compelling reasons to do the things they were doing. And if there’s nothing compelling the characters to act, there’s usually also nothing compelling the reader to read.

So now I’ve devised what I believe will be significantly more compelling actions and motivations for the characters. And, again, the story will be better for the time and effort of yet another major revision.

But God help me, I hope that’s going to satisfy once and for all this fiend inside me called “editor,” because he is making it awfully difficult for me to get any writing done.

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