On the other hand…
Having explained (sort of) how I am going about my new story, mixing improvisation with a minimum of planning, I find myself in quite a different situation with a new project. And before you go, man, how many projects have you going? The answer is, as many as I can, because the bills keep on coming. But it’s more complicated than that.
Case in point – a publisher I respect has put up three calls for three different anthologies. Not much money in the thing, but as I said I respect the publisher, it is a new market, and it would look good on my CV.
Not much money means writing fast – I can’t spend more than two afternoons on a story that pays less than the professional fee. It’s a matter of economics. This doesn’t mean I should write it in a sloppy way. It just means that I have a very tight schedule, and no time to do research or anything fanciful. I must get ready, get the story going in my head, and then sit down and write it – nice and smooth.
But here’s the rub – the publisher in question has a two-stage evaluation process. They will read the first 500 words. If those are good, you can send along the finished thing. Obviously, the stories must start with a bang.
Now, my instinct would be to write the best 500 words possible, secure a pass and then write the complete story. Strategic, and no time wasted. But this requires planning, and a very strict outline, because I’m showing where the story begins, and I must know where it ends. No space for much improvisation. Add to this that the story concept is not my own (because it is the proposed anthology theme), and we’re dealing with a completely different approach to writing and story development.
Which is fun, in a way. It allows me to spend an evening creating half a dozen 500-words starts, and then select the ones that work best, and from there trace an outline, and wait for a response.
It’s not as economic as sitting down and doing the thing, but it probably gives me a better chance at selling the stories.
And given that a) there are three open calls, and b) there’s not much money involved, I can experiment with different approaches and writing methods, and see which one works out.