East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Hey, this seems to be working!

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This week I pitched a new story to an anthology, and wrote and submitter four short stories to as many magazines and anthologies. And this is very good, because as I mentioned, the last weeks of 2020 and the first weeks of 2021 had been a bit slow, and I was having a hard time writing.

And the fun thing is, I have developed a new modus operandi that, at least with 3000-words stories (this being the word-count of my four submissions this week) seems to work just fine.
So, why not write about it?

Here’s what I am doing.

  • First, of course, read the call and try to get an idea. This usually happens after lunch.
  • Once there’s a viable idea, I open a plain text editor (Leafpad, in my case) and jot down the first 500 words. The idea here is to get a solid beginning, and find the tone and voice of the story.
  • At this point I make a pause, take a short walk to the corner and back, have a cup of tea, go to the bathroom (not necessarily in that order). Let’s say, half an hour off.
  • Now I copy and paste my beginning into a LibreOffice Writer document, re-read it, and pick it up from there. I try and write a total of roughly 2000 words if the target is 3000.
  • Here I stop, set up dinner, manage my mail and my social profiles, read something, do some other work (like researching some article or stuff), etc.
  • After dinner, I handle any other pending job I’ve open. Then I re-read the 2000-words worth of story I’ve got, and then I go to sleep.
  • In the morning, I re-read the words I’ve got, I edit the text, cleaning it up, and then finish the story. Usually a good night’s sleep brings fresh ideas and a clearer, more focused conclusion.
  • Then I revise for typos, format according to guidelines, and mail the submission off by noon. And I’m ready for the next one.

And as I said, it seems to be working – or at least, it worked four times, for a total of roughly 12.000 words.
Will any of these stories sell? Ah, I do not know.
Will this system work for longer stories? Again, I don’t know.
But really, there is nothing wrong with 2000/4000-words stories.

Tomorrow we try with another one, and one that’s very different from my usual genre.
I’ll let you know how it goes.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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