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Early morning allergy post W

October 28, 2012

The flash fiction contest at Escape Pod has been going on for a couple weeks.  I had a story in it called Home Sweet Mars that did pretty well, making it into the semi-final round despite some rather large mistakes that I missed before submitting the story.

I learned a lot from the process.  I’ve posted some of my stuff to critique sites before, like the forums at Writers Digest and to Critters.org but the stakes were a lot lower there.  Writersdigest is more about affirmation and encouragement than about giving constructive (or destructive) advice, and while the critiques from critters are good, the wait to receive them is grueling and then when your turn comes, there are only a few of them, although it’s true that those few are usually high quality.

At the Escape Pod contest the stories have editors, slush pile readers, and published authors reading, discussing, and arguing about the stories.  I’ve learned an amazing amount by watching and participating in the discussions with them.

The main thing that seemed to be wrong with my story was that there wasn’t enough conflict.  The same thing has been said about other stories I’ve had reviewed, so I think this is something that I’m going to really need to pay attention to while I’m writing the stories for Nanowrimo.  Without conflict there isn’t really a story.

The story had other problems as well, but I think those problems had more to do with the 750 word limit and the speed at which I wrote it and submitted it.  I wrote and submitted it the day before the deadline.  People complained that if it was going to be a science fiction story, it needed more science fiction in it.  It originally had more in it, but I cut it out to meet the word count limit.  There were also complaints about some of the agriculture details that I added in, but I think those complaints had more to do with city folk not understanding what life on a farm is like.  It ain’t like Farmville, kids.  With more words, I think those issues would have been cleared up as well.

And really, that’s why I didn’t win.  The contest was for the best story at 750 words, and mine wasn’t it.  The stories that are going to the final round are amazing, and I’m really looking forward to seeing who wrote them and who exactly it is that I’ve been competing with.

This contest has really been an inspiration for me.  It’s given me the assurance that I really can write, that people like what I write, and that continuing to write and submit things is a worth while thing.  I’ve been looking around for more contests to join, and I’ve been compiling a list of the publications that I’d want to be published in.  I’d love to have a story in Clarkesworld.

So now, my job is to write at least seven really great stories over the next month for Nanowrimo, and then after November is over to keep on writing, edit the things I’ve written, and start submitting things around to the places I’d like to publish my stuff.

And to somehow survive my allergies and get some sleep.

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