Blast from the Past: Improving a Story to Death
Hi, everyone. A text-only version of this article appeared in my GoodReads blog on June 29, 2009. The lesson on writing with care remains the same today.
The story I referenced is now entitled “Betrayed by a Kiss,” and may be found in my always-free short fiction collection, Around the World in 80 Pages. Enjoy!
I learned a harsh lesson this month.
I entered one of my favorite short-short stories, “The Judas Kiss,” in two different competitions. It was a strong, intelligent story with a twist, and I was very proud of it. One of the decisions I made when I wrote the story was to deliberately never identify the gender of the protagonist. I thought it was a real strength of the story.
Except I wimped out before I sent it to the two contests.
I made the protagonist female, and wrote some additional information about her. In hindsight, this was detrimental to the story’s strength … and “The Judas Kiss” failed to place in either contest.
I think that constructive criticism is invaluable, but as an author I should have just left well enough alone. There is a fine line between art and a mess; a painter needs to know when to lay down the brush. The same things applies to writing, whether short-short, short story, novella or novel. Wield your pen with care.