About David Stringer

Blogger/writer of bad fiction. Norwich City legend, AP reporter, physio, Kirtan singer, HUFC fan. Write Lower League Week for Born Offside, & other things.

I’ve Finished Writing a Short Story – Now What?

This is my entry for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group – a monthly opportunity for aspiring writers to have a whinge about the roadblocks we’ve came across while developing as a writer, and to offer each other support and advice. You can pay some of my fellow IWSGers a visit, and sign up yourself.

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Between December and February I wrote a short story, from beginning to end – a 7500 word Victorian era mystery. Roughly halfway through February I reached the point where I was happy with the finished version – the period details felt authentic to me, there’s a conflict between characters, and facts held back from the characters and the reader are slowly revealed as the mystery unravels.

Since then I’ve shared the ‘finished’ version with a few people, and received bits of feedback to refine it slightly, but I’m not sure whether to go one way or the other. The additions will mean expanding what I’ve written, but I was trying to stick to a word count for a magazine’s submission guidelines, and I’m already significantly over.

Generally I’m more inclined towards aiming for traditional publishing than self-publishing (either in hard copy or as an e-book), as I’d prefer the greater publicity of an established audience (in this case a magazine) and I’d prefer to have the publicity dealt with by someone who specialises in that area (for a novel). But on the other hand, there are practical considerations that mean I might not be able to publish my ideal version of the story… even if it’s accepted.

Part of the reason I’m wary is because of an experience with an earlier finished manuscript. In March of last year I completed a short supernatural story that I called The Eternal Hunt, which I sent to a few magazines for publication – they all either rejected me or didn’t reply. I’ve thought about self-publishing my latest story as an e-book, maybe through Smashwords or something similar.

For now, I’m working out a second story led by the same characters. Maybe I’ll be able to cannibalise some of the character elements for the second story, as a way of making the first story shorter without having to eliminate things from the larger world I hope to eventually create. And more importantly, I should strengthen my idea of what themost important parts are of the stories I’m trying to tell, which elements of the larger world and themes are most important, and whether there’s anything I can get rid of entirely.

I’m aware of the importance of compromise, and it may well be that the magazine make editorial changes that improve the story. But there’s also the possibility that the interests of the magazine in question and my story may come up against each other. An editor of a magazine that publishes short fiction will naturally want a story of X thousand words that enthrall and entertain their readers… but fitting into that limit will probably be more important to them than having the thematic depth and character insight that I want it to have.

Given that this is my IWSG entry, I’ll throw the comments section out for advice. Those of you who’ve self-published, would you go down the traditional route if you could? And have you faced the challenge of having to cut something you really like to fit a word count?

Condition

Just a quick post, as I’ve not written on the blog for a while, and in that time the Film Production Society I’m involved in has completed post-production on a short film.

Condition is a short science fiction film. Jacob is the sole patient in an otherwise abandoned hospital. He feels fine, but Ami, who is taking care of him, refuses to allow him to leave…

I should probably make clear, though I’m credited as a writer, I don’t feel I added all that much to the script. We gathered as an American-style writers’ room a few times in October and November, added a few ideas to the raw initial idea, and Adam Eccles (the first credited writer) did the majority of the heavy lifting – so any credit should go in that direction.

If you enjoyed that film, Emily Raw, the Editor and Visual Effects creator has a  Vimeo channel and Daryl Lim, the male lead and also composer of the soundtrack, has Facebook and Youtube pages.

If you’re interested in seeing more films like this, liking the Teesside Film Production Society’s Facebook page will keep you updated.

Bryan Singer on Superman Returns

Bryan Singer made a few headlines last week when he blamed the box office failure of his film, Superman Returns, on the fact that it was targeted at a female audience – who didn’t turn out to watch it as highly as he’d hoped:

It was a movie made for a certain kind of audience. Perhaps more of a female audience. It wasn’t what it needed to be, I guess. I think I could lop the first quarter off and start the movie a bit more aggressively and maybe find a way to start the movie with the jet disaster sequence or something. I could have grabbed the audience a little more quickly. I don’t know what would have helped. Probably nothing.

Singer’s quotes have been taken out of context slightly, but the idea that the film was targeted at women is his most solid definition of the “certain kind of audience” he was chasing, and he thinks that there was “probably nothing” different he could have done.

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Coca Cola Hates America

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For farmers with their grain,
Keeping corporate dynasties,
In economic gain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy English-speaking brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
And those who did descend,
Till Mexicans and Muslims meet,
To cause our country’s end.

America! America!
God mend their ev’ry flaw,
Bless their soul with self-control,
Make talking English our law.

O beautiful for glorious tale,
Of liberating strife,
While chaining the black male,
The husband votes for the wife.

America! America!
Everything has been forever fine.
As long as Americans don’t learn foreign,
We shall remain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
I don’t need no history.
Send away the poor, huddled masses too,
America shall be ran by patriots like me.

America! America!
God shed His grace on me,
And send away brown brotherhood,
Across the shining sea!

Finding the Time

I’ve never been a prolific writer, either when writing fiction or non-fiction. But I’ve (relatively) recently completed a three thousand word short story from scratch over a few days. I also wrote seven articles for Squawka over the Christmas period, one of which I wrote late in an evening after losing a family board game. But that prolific spell isn’t normal for me – in fact, I wrote most of this blog entry five weeks ago, and only got round to finishing this week.

I find writing easier when I’m relaxed and happy… and possibly being a little drunk helps as well. Just the other day I read that a fellow blogger, Cate Morgan, does some of her daily writing preparation during her lunch hour. That’s certainly not something I could do, as I’ve always tended to be either slightly stressed or surprised that I’m not stressed during my work day, and I couldn’t squeeze my time in that manner. Continue reading

Making a Film

I’ve mentioned in passing that I’m currently studying on a university course – I’m also involved with the university’s Film Production Society.
Members of the Society are mostly involved in the film-making and animation courses, and there’s a lot of talent in these areas, with animation being a university specialty. (The university will be hosting an annual animation festival this week, which is apparently very prestigious in the animation industry. Speakers include Gail Simone and Rhiannon Pratchett, who even I am vaguely aware of.)

While I’ve picked up a few things about cinematography and lighting during Society meetings, the main purpose of the Society is, unsurprisingly, to produce films. The second film of the academic year is currently in pre-production… based on a script I knocked together. Based on the skill I’ve seen others on the course display on previous projects and practice sessions, and the quality of the acting in auditions, the end product might actually end up being half decent in spite of my involvement.

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How Can You Miss Me If I Don’t Go Away?

This is my entry for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group – a monthly opportunity for aspiring writers to have a whinge about the roadblocks we’ve came across while developing as a writer, and to offer each other support and advice. Click here for a full list of participants and to sign up. Unless you don’t want to, of course – no-one’s going to force you. Probably.

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IWSG: Writer’s Contract for 2014

David Stringer:

Today, rather than last week, is the return of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, intended to help aspiring writers give each other support. After not taking part for a few months, I missed the fact that this month’s edition had been pushed back – I’m reblogging just to make it easier to find.

Originally posted on noonebutabloghead:

Welcome one and all to the blog, for my first post of 2014. With it being the first Wednesday of the month, this is also my entry for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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The Importance of Reflection

You wouldn’t be able to shave without it, for a start.

Okay, as the ‘theme’ of this blog is writing in general and the things I’ve written myself, it’s fairly obvious that this post isn’t going to be about literal mirrors.

I’m currently a few months into a university course, doing English Studies with Creative Writing. Two of the exercises I’ve been doing are to keep a ‘writer’s diary’ detailing how I’ve come up with ideas, and a piece of ‘reflective writing’ looking back at my process of writing a short story, the obstacles I’ve come up against and overcome.

Over the past five years I’ve been keeping a variety of notebooks – literal and electronic – about the half-formed ideas I’ve had over the years. But I’ve never really given that much thought to my ways of working. But recently I’ve given more thought to what works best for me – learning by trial and error, and from what other, more successful writers have said about their methods.

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Looking Statistically at Cardiff’s Summer Signings

Another quick Squawka link. Cardiff City Football Club have been a bit of a basket case in recent weeks. The chairman, Vincent Tan, while not sacking the manager, Malky Mackay himself, seems to have been pantomining a display of what ‘constructive dismissal’ looks like, briefing against him in the press, before growing bored with his performance art and sacking the manager outright.

Cardiff fans at the 2012 League Cup final, wearing their traditional colours of not red.

Cardiff fans at the 2012 League Cup final, wearing their traditional colours of not red.

One of the mad chairman’s more legitimate complaints was that Mackay overspent on summer recruitments. So, writing for Squawka, I’ve taken a statistical look at their summer signings.

Click here to read Was Cardiff’s Summer Spending a Success?