Tackling Short Story Revisions

Hello and welcome to my mid-week Writer In Motion process post. In last week’s revisions, I fleshed out the story to 1300 words, then trimmed off errant phrases and tightened the prose until it sailed in at just under 1000. Now it’s my turn to critique others, and get my own story gutted because, let’s be honest, critique partners will find all the destructive little nuances killing our tales and shine a bright spotlight on them. As I gather all the bloody docs to my side, it’s time to dig in.

The critiques

For this project, we were assigned 2 partners. However, 2 is never quite enough for me, so I called for reinforcements and did a few extra swaps. Because that’s what an over-achiever does. So a huge thank you to the following ladies for their stellar insight: Rebecca Fryar, Megan Van Dyke, Ellen Mulholland, Kristen Howe, Kathryn Hewitt, and CoffeeQuills. Let’s take a look at their work in these four documents.

 

 

If your eyes just widened a little bit, bravo! It looks daunting, doesn’t it? To me this is one of the most beautiful sights because it means a) I have some good direction buried in there to help my story level up and b) these ladies cared enough to take time out of their schedules and offer valuable feedback. Critique partners like these are worth their weight in tacos. Just sayin’.

Let’s workshop the feedback

Over the years I’ve developed a process for digesting feedback that really works for me. Mileage varies with every writer, but here’s how I roll:

  1. I’m going to read each set of pages individually to get a feel for how readers view the story.
  2. I’ll laugh and cry with the positivity comments, then delete them to scale down the sheer number of things to look at.
  3. Next I’ll fix all the small, easy things—grammar, misspellings, or bits that are duh moments and easily finessed in seconds.
  4. Now comes the hard part. With all the easy stuff out of the way, it’s time to tackle the bigger issues. This is where I create an outline document of all the developmental and structural edits.

Once I have that document created, plus my own thoughts and reactions on developmental edits, it’s time to get dirty.

Deep revisions and why I bang my head against desks

Okay, so after reading all the feedback, the plan changed a little. No problem—here’s where writer versatility comes in handy.

Two large issued cropped up, the woman and the sister. They don’t seem to serve the story and lead to an element of confusion. As much as I love them, for Khalon’s short piece they get the chop. Well, the sister does for sure and the woman might be tossed on as part of the final hook. Either way, the first thing I did was to duplicate the story and cut out every single reference of the woman.

This brought the word count down to roughly 800 words. Next I went through each comment and placed an outline note or added a [bracketed] note in red to the story. Once that was all done, things got a bit messy. Here’s a glimpse:

As of this morning, I still have a few more notes to dissect and add, but all of these elements side-by-side offer a great navigational guide to the stronger image forming inside my head.

With coffee in hand, it’s time to push the fatigue aside and get to work. There’s a deadline looming: Friday my revision must go live and the pages sent to my assigned editor, the lovely Carly Hayward of Book Light Editorial. Here’s some updated stats for my Writer In Motion journey:

Story rewrites: working on number three.
Story image: added a new layer to the blend to give it a smoky feel, but the image seems to focus more on what’s in Khalon’s head.
Title: will change for a third time.
Coffee intake: need much more to focus.

Follow the journey

Keep your eyes on my blog as I continue my journey in the coming weeks. And don’t forget Melissa and I are also giving away prizes. Don’t forget to sign up and follow this blog for your chance to let us dig into your work.


K. J. Harrowick K.J. Harrowick is a freelance web developer and graphic designer with more than a decade of industry experience on a diverse range of projects. As a child, she fell in love with fantasy worlds like those found in the books of Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey, which continued well into adulthood with the worlds of Ivan Cat, Rand & Robin Miller, Terry Brooks, Orson Scott Card, and E. R. Mason. She began to world build and create fantasy languages in 2004, and in 2014 it became a full-blown passion to write and publish her own books. Currently she resides in the rainy Pacific Northwest where she works with a broad range of client projects, plots how to destroy her characters’ lives, and occasionally falls down rabbit holes.

Don’t forget to check out this year’s Winterviews and partner interviews. You can also follow the Writer In Motion journey by subscribing to this blog.

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One thought on “Tackling Short Story Revisions

  1. Your editing process is similar to mine KJ. Loved getting the look inside your brain. You’re so open and willing to dive in and do major surgery. Kudos. Can’t wait to see the polished version of this compelling story!

    Like

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