The Ins and Outs Of My Personal Write 1/Sub 1 Challenge…

I hope everyone that celebrates Christmas enjoyed their holiday and that no-one was eaten or abducted.

Seeing as anyone who saw my clinically insane 2016 goal post is probably wondering about the whole write 1/sub 1 thing, and since I did say I would be posting about it shortly, I’ve decided now is the perfect time to post about it.

Write 1/Sub 1 is a challenge based on the methods of Ray Bradbury, a Scifi writer who spent decades writing and submitting one story a week. The idea behind the challenge is that no-one can write 52 crappy or mediocre stories in a row.   I’m no Bradbury and I know myself enough to know that I can’t write and polish a story a week at this point in time, so I decided to modify the challenge to suite me. I’m shooting for a story every two weeks, that way I can spend one week writing and the next polishing and researching venues to send the story to if I don’t already have somewhere it would fit on my extensive venues list.

Another way that I’m modifying the challenge to suite me is to make sure half of my stories are Horror, and half of those are Erotic Horror of some nature. I love writing my depraved and just plain messed up Erotic Horror, but I love writing other forms of Horror, too. I’m happy to moderate my Erotic Horror output if it means writing a near equal amount of other forms Horror are also being written. I thought about letting the chips fall where they may when it came to the genres of the 26 stories, but I tend to get grumpy when not writing enough Horror. So, I decided that it wasn’t worth running that risk and possibly quitting because of it.

But I’m sure you’re wondering, what about the other 13 stories in this modified challenge? Well, I’m not letting the chips fall where they may there either. Of those Thirteen stories, I plan of seven being some form of Scifi or Fantasy, and the remaining six being a mix of Historical, Lit/Contemporary, and Magical Realism. I know it sounds a bit over the top to have things broken down like that, but I think it’ll work well for me. That’s what matters, IMO. Writers need to do and find out what works for them, and I work better when I have a plan than when I don’t.

However, for all of this planning there’s one thing I’m letting fall where they may. If I feel like writing a Scifi Realism, then my SF story is going to be SF Realism. If I feel like writing Gothic or Dark Fantasy, then I will be Gothic/Dark Fantasy. I don’t see any reason to stifle what I want to do as long as it fits my plans. And I can always, always make one of my ideas fit in somewhere. If that means I end up with seven SFF stories and six Magical Realism stories, then so be it. Or if I somehow end up with seven SFF stories and six Literary stories. Long as it fits somewhere in my goals I’ll be a happy camper.

Until next time!

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New Year. New Start. New Goals.

Ok. There’s still a couple of weeks left in 2015, but the title just fit the topic of this and just seems the most interesting.

As 2015 winds down, I’ve been taking stock of what I’ve done in the last year. And let me just say this… I’m not happy. I didn’t write or blog enough, and I certainly didn’t get as many shorts, flash pieces, or poems out there as I wanted to. I did make my first submissions though, and also got my first rejections. I’m proud that I at least started putting myself out there, so there’s certainly that.

I still would like to do better for 2016, however. So this year’s list of goals is this:

  • Write 300 poems, and submit at least 1 poem a month.
  • Complete a modified write 1/Sub 1 story challenge. The traditional way to do the challenge is to write and submit a story a week, but I’m shooting for writing and submitting a story every two weeks. That would give me 26 shorts instead of the typical 52. (There’s a post about this pending sometime in the near future.)
  • Write and Sub a novella for the Book Smugglers novella call.
  • Write and Polish a short SF Romance novel to shop around to E-publishers like Samhain.
  • Draft a Horror, Gothic Fiction, or Dark Fantasy novel.
  • Complete research for Hist Fantasy novel and tackle the first 5,000 words.
  • Write 52 flash pieces or short shorts and submit them.

I know that’s a long and involved list, but I think I can go it if I take the goals more seriously this year and carve out some set writing time for myself. Go big or go home, right? We never know what we can do until we push ourselves to do it.

So, wish me luck and don’t get yourselves eaten or abducted.

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Why “Show, don’t tell” is bad advice

I know some of you are raising your eyebrows at the title of this post, but hear me out for a second. I’ve read a lot of various writing blogs and “rules” for writing which give such advice, and while not entirely useless, it seems like more of a buzz-phrase than anything. It’s also something that tends to get new writers in trouble, because it is often spouted without context or examples to back it up.

Now I’m not exactly an old writer. But I personally knew going into this writing journey that I would have to choose what to leave out and what to include in a story. In other words, what to TELL my readers. Because all stories are told whether they’re via short story, movie, play, or book. There’s no way to avoid telling because of their very nature. What is important is the way in which they’re told and not the fact they are, and that is what people mean when they say show. To show is simply to paint a visual/emotional picture based on what you choose to reveal. And sometimes, sometimes a story will dictate you outright tell something about the scene, character etc.

One of the issues with this piece of annoying advice is that it encourages new writers who may not yet have gotten what is meant by it, to show EVERYTHING. They’ll describe it instead of just saying:

Gwen had always thought it ironic that their mothers had been so obsessed with Arthurian legend, insisted they be swordwomen in an age where the skill was practically useless, and yet, had only named one of them after a character from the legends. She faced Moira, practice sword in hand.

It’s only a couple of sentences given as an example, but I think it’s enough. The second one however is the one that new writers who hear this advice will be uncomfortable with, because it is telling. Gwen who was introduced in the first sentence is doing something, she is facing whoever Moira is ready to practice her sword craft. And the fact she is doing this is ok. Whether it fits or not isn’t dictated by something being so-called tell or show, but instead by context and the sentences surrounding it. Context is key when making the choice in how much to show or tell, not some silly rule tossed out to newbies with little real explanation.

Telling can work, it can be full of the voice of whoever is narating it. Which is why I prefer other advice to this one, namely: “Tell what needs to be told and show what needs to be shown.” The important phrase being “needs to be.” If it bennefits the story more to tell something, then do so. If it bennefits the story more to show something, then do that. Stories are a combination of telling and showing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little rant.

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