Monday, June 13, 2011

Four Wizards and a Funeral—Mike Rimar


Four Rewrites and a Sale

by Mike Rimar

I. An Idea

Not long after I learned my neighbor worked in a funeral home, a little voice in my head shouted, "There's a story here, dummy!"

Insulting little. . .

The idea percolated in my mind and while some plots bubbled up nothing really grabbed me. Time passed, other projects came up and the idea remained just that.

II. A Purpose

Months later I joined the Stopwatch Gang writing group. At one of Four Wizards - Color - smallthe meetings someone mentioned an upcoming wizard-themed anthology and writing a story turned into a group challenge.

"Hey dummy," said the little voice in my head. "Remember that idea?"

If I ever find that little--

Something clicked and while a wizard undertaker was probably nothing new, in all likelihood it hadn't been done to death, pardon the pun.

A plot took shape and, as I wrote, the story--and narrator, found a voice.

III. A Title

Originally, only three wizards plagued my protagonist. Thinking along those lines, I mulled over possible titles: Three Wizards; Three Little Wizards; Three Wizards and an Undertaker . . .


To think what might have been had I not heard of a certain movie starring Hugh Grant and Andie Macdowell.

Of course, that meant adding an extra wizard, but that's life--and death.

By the umpteenth draft I thought I had a pretty good story and took it to the Stopwatch Gang who showed me I was wrong.

IV. A Good Writing Group

I cannot stress the importance of having colleagues who are willing four-wizards-and-a-funeral_largeto give unbiased criticism of your work. If you are a beginning writer, and serious about getting published, join a writing group, or create one. You won't be sorry.

And just to prove my point, Tony Pi, who is also a member, was in the issue previous to this one. Tony convinced me to join the Codex Online Writers Group. A great place to connect with writers and editors.

Having incorporated the SWG's suggestions, I happily, and confidently, sent the story along to the anthology.

V. A Sale


Anthologies are curious beasts. Most, it seems to me, start off with a blanket theme of say, zombie stories, but as the the editor takes four-wizards-and-a-funeral_largesubmissions and makes a small acceptance pile, a secondary theme might emerge, say, lighthearted zombie romances. So, while your zombie story might be the best thing since Night of the Living Dead, it won't make the cut of what's slowly becoming Zombies in the City.

Yes, I was unhappy my story got rejected, but I didn't lock myself in the bathroom and cry like a schoolgirl. I stopped doing that about a year ago.

What I did do was continue submitting the story until a wise fellow by the name of Edmund R. Schubert saw something other editors had missed. But first, suggestions of his own. I made those fixes and ran them past the SWG in a flurry of emails. They in turn, patiently explained what Edmund really meant, and after making those edits I submitted the story a final time.

Four Wizards and a Funeral is in the June issue of Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.

I hope you enjoy it.

--Mike Rimar

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