Challenge,  On Writing

Editing and Reading Observations… Part 4…

Back Reading Stories Again…

A lot of the same things I already mentioned. No real depth (setting) gets me to stop reading fairly quickly. Going on and on and on without ever getting to a story (walking to a story) makes me read more than I want to, but I never get to the story or the ending. So I saw more of the same stuff I saw in the first three posts on this topic.

But tonight (from a couple of stories) I got something new for this reading. Stories started with great depth, great character voice, and both had fun ideas that could work for Pulphouse. I was interested to say the least.  And then suddenly both just did a white space and changed viewpoint.

I liked the characters they started with, so I quit reading.

My gut sense is that the critical voice of the writers said, “Jump over here to make the plot make sense.”

Nope… stick with the character you spent five pages of great depth and voice setting up and tell that story.  Sigh…

Also tonight I got what Kris and I call “low hanging fruit” meaning the story idea has been done so many thousands of times, no need to read on very far. And besides, I edit for Pulphouse. Might want to read an issue. Low hanging fruit is just not what is in Pulphouse. Or any other major magazine to be honest.

I also did this reading first because now I get the fantastic pleasure of reading Kris’s next new Fey novel. It would not have been fair to read some of her book first and then try to read these stories. Very few writers on the planet can write as well as Kris does.

So I am off to vanish into her world of the Fey.


  • Jason M

    Re: the low-hanging fruit —
    That fruit may look low to you and Kris and me and readers of your blog, but we’ve all read thousands of stories.
    A 15-year-old has never seen that fruit before.
    An ESL reader has never seen that fruit before.
    A person new to the genre has never seen that fruit before.
    I’m always reminding myself of that.

  • J

    Hi Dean,

    What is the best thing to do when you’ve written short fiction or a novel and realize it’s not very good? On account of lacking storytelling skills.

    Should you still ship it off or publish it/send it to an editor like you?

    • dwsmith

      Publish it or send it out to market. Writers are the worst judges of their own work. Period, no exception to that rule. Just get it out and let readers or editors see it.

      • Emilia

        J’s question reminded me of a critical voice problem I sometimes have. If the short story doesn’t sell to magazines it must not be very good and I shouldn’t put it up. I know it’s critical voice trying to stop me, but I’m not sure how to counter that argument.

        • dwsmith

          Just put everything you write and finish up. Stop making value judgements on your own work. Focus on the next story.