Short Story Writing Process, Part 3

I’ve been posting the last couple of weeks about my short story writing process.  But of course, having a final draft of a short story isn’t even close to the end of the battle.  The third part of the short story writing process for me is submissions.

Once I have a story that I’m proud of, I like to send it to a couple of people to read for me.  It’s actually pretty hard to find people to read stories critically.  A lot of people that read my stories fall into one of two categories: they say they’ll read it but they don’t, or they read it and say it’s wonderful and fabulous and I should try to sell it.  Of course, occasionally I come across a reader who is actually helpful.  This fabulous person reads my story critically and tells me what needs improvement.

After that, I’ll review any helpful comments that I receive and decide whether they can be applied to my final draft.  I’ll read through one more time for minor adjustments, spelling, and grammar.  Then I shift the draft into manuscript format, if it isn’t there already.  I’ll spend a few days (or weeks) working myself up to the confidence level that I need to submit and get on a website that’s going to help me find places to submit to.

My favorite is The Grinder.  It’s free and I find the interface very helpful.  Because the only point of submitting for me is to get paid for doing something that I enjoy, I usually search for places paying at least semiprofessional rates.  I don’t feel like I should undervalue my writing by doing anything less.  If it’s good enough, I’ll get paid, if it’s not, I’ve enjoyed writing it anyway.  Once I’ve found a few candidates, I’ll read their websites.  If the magazine or webzine has free content, I’ll read a couple of existing short stories so that I can get a feel for what they like.

Once I’ve narrowed my possible submissions down to the likeliest place, I’ll read their submission policies a couple of times through.  I’ll make sure my manuscript is in whatever format they need it to be (this is the closest thing to taking a standardized test as I get these days), then I’ll mail off the submission.  After a few quick updates to my submissions spreadsheet, I find myself playing the rejection-waiting-game.

Some day I’m going to get accepted somewhere!  That day just hasn’t happened yet.

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