When Writing? Small Changes Can Fix Big Issues

Have you ever gotten feedback from someone who you respect, saying they hated your work? They liked the idea, but think you should have done it a completely different way?

No? Just me?

Recently, I submitted a couple of short stories to different markets, but after a pair of quick rejections, I sent them to friends for another look. Most of the feedback was along the same lines, so I looked at what I could fix and what I couldn’t.

But for the reader who hated the story? We sat down and talked about what they did and didn’t like about the story.

The real issue was the set-up — it was a horror/suspense sort of story and I was giving away too much too soon.

That was entirely in line with other feedback I’d had, although more precise in what parts worked, versus what parts should be changed.

So? I sat on that for a week. I pouted. I thought. I considered if these were even changes I wanted to make.

But my knee-jerk reaction (for once) wasn’t “they don’t get my story”, it was more of a, “I don’t wanna!” mixed with “How do I do that? While making sure the ending is still properly supported” (i.e. doesn’t seem to come out of nowhere).

Last night? I sat down to start on the changes, taking out the heavy foreshadowing (easily found in italics, on their own lines). And replaced those instances with more subtle hints at what lay ahead.

Fifteen minutes later? I was done.

I still need to do a re-read, to make sure the updates are smooth. I still need a second set of eyes (maybe fresh ones to make sure the ending wasn’t too abrupt), but this huge change? That seemed like massive structural issue?

With a few short line changes, I fixed it.

Takeaways?

Remember when setting something up in your writing, be it foreshadowing, backstory, world-building, or more — oftentimes, less is more. You only need enough to spark the imagination and flesh out the world. Not enough to slow the story.


Have you ever been intimidated by a suggested change you agreed probably needed to happen in your work?

Were you ever surprised at how little you needed to change your story to make a completely different impression on the reader?

Tell me about it in the comments below!

Twas the Week before NaNo

In honor of the last week of October, here’s a Throwback Post.

‘Twas The Week Before NaNo

‘Twas the week before NaNo, and all through the land
Not a writer was ready, not even the grand;
The stories all waited, ev’ry last one,
In hopes NaNoWriMo soon would be won;

The characters jostled all shoved in our heads,
While visions of new worlds continued to spread
And Facebook on the PC, and I in my tweets
Had just settled DOWN to fill those blank sheets—‌

When up on the screen there arose such a clatter,
I clicked off my doc to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Scrolled over the adverts and cleared out my cache.

The notification of a new month said hello,
Giving luster of import to objects below;
When what to my wondering eyes should egress?
But a miniature list with eight friend requests!

Then with a li’l old idea, so lively and quick,
I’d know in a moment if this one would stick.
More rapid than eagles, the story now came,
And I whistled and shouted, and called components by name:

“Now Chapters, now Setting! Now Plot and Conflict!
“On False-peak, on Raised-Stakes! On Black-moment-strict;
“To the top of the peak! To the climax and fall!
“Now type away! Type away! Type away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When you meet with an obstacle: write fast, do not sigh;
So, up to the document’s top, I will go
With my head full of musings‍—‌my ideas now in tow:

And then in a twinkling, you’ll hear my keyboard
The tapping and clacking, each word I’ll record.
As I draw down my head, and ignoring all sound,
Down the page, my story will grow with a bound:

My main character formed, from her head to her foot,
And her clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of supplies was flung on her back,
And she look’d like a peddler just carrying her pack:

Her brow—‌how it furrowed! Her eyes, my how wary,
Her cheeks were like roses, her nose like a cherry;
Her fair little mouth was drawn up so’s to bite,
And the hair on her head was as black as the night;

The dangers she fled were as deadly as sin
And the safety she sought, oh–her lead, it was thin;
The plots, they did lead, and oh how I chased ’em,
While watching my subplots all full of odd whims:

A blink of my eye and a twist of my head
Soon’ll give me to know I had nothing to dread.
I’ll speak not a word, but return to my work,
And fill all the pages; then turn with a jerk,

And stretching my fingers, all done with their task
And after a click on the save key, I’ll finally bask.
I’ll spring to kitchen, to my fridge give a peek,
And filling a good bowl with th’ ice cream I’ll seek:

Then you’ll watch me update, ere the clock strikes midnight—‌
Happy NaNo to all. Put up the good fight.

(For more tip-filled posts, check out my previous NaNoWriMo posts:
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
An Outline To Write By (for Plantsers and Plotters)
How to win NaNoWriMo
3 Things That Helped Me Win NaNoWriMo early
Craft Vs Professionalism )

For My Dearest Peddler

Bringing back a flash fiction story that seemed right for today…

Morgan Hazelwood: Writer In Progress

(I haven’t put any of my fiction up here, so this is a first. Just a short vignette I wrote this week.)

She’d had to cram a year of work into a few short months. That’s when her stasis ended. The magic that took the year and compressed it for her gave her just long enough to do her work.Four months out from delivery wasnow when they could calculate what might be wanted andwhat would be needed. It was part of the deal she’d made.

For much of the year, the little onesexperimented and worked on pet projects, lived their lives, grew their families. But once she awoke, it was time for all-hands on deck, around-the-clock work. They had deals through many of the large manufacturers: two percent of the merchandise would be delivered there for her purposes. It was easy to get these deals when you got in early…

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Poetry Challenge: Part 5

The Final Poems

My last few days of the challenge, I fell into my own sort of couplet structure, following the suggested themes. My penultimate one feels extra-appropriate for election day.

Have you been participating? Share a link to some/all of your poems.

Do you have a favorite? Let me know which style connects with you!


For day 29 of #OctPoWriMo, after a 12 hour day at work, I got hit by a theme near-and-dear to my heart.

DOUBLE
img_20181029_232639_8471240029225321973574.jpg
See one then blink, then see again
But something, it strikes different then

Is it a look, or length of stride
‘It’s clear that something’s off,’ you sighed

You strum, then drum, then stroke your chin
You sit and ponder, then within–

The thought, it makes your eyes go wide
And bring not one, but two besides

Of course, the answer is, “we’re kin”
Identical–she is my twin


On the penultimate day of #OctPoWriMo, the theme was ‘Jolt’. I hope you’re inspired by this one, to get out and vote.

NEED A JOLT?
img_20181030_230637_4959064876223462489640.jpg
Day after day, going along
Doing your thing, breaking your bread

Keep your head down, don’t cause alarm
help when you can, dodge when you can’t.

Until. BAM!

Once you look up, what do you see?
Things need changing, you’re their best shot.

The time has come, roll up your sleeves
Dive right in for, it must be done.

 


And my final poem was:

IN A BLINK

20181106_0030482977384798310139288.jpg

With a blink, today’s gone.
Did I spend it all wrong?

I did stretch myself thin,
meeting calls, fixing bugs,

focused on three things,
but never just one.

And yet still there is more
work given, self-driven.

Yet.

There’s a slice left for me.
And that’s when I’ll just breathe.

Poetry Challenge: Part 4

My 4th Week Of Poetry (almost done!)

I continued experimenting with styles, mostly following the suggested themes.

Have you been participating? Share a link to some/all of your poems.

Do you have a favorite? Let me know which style connects with you!


For day 21 of #OctPoWriMo, here’s another cinquain.

img_20181021_224550_9163563534327259683796.jpg

 

 

My head,
It fills with tales
Of beasts, lore, and magic.
Where those fighting for the truth
Prevail.

 

 


Following the theme for #OctPoWriMo day #22.

img_20181023_005238_8206453271883994369654.jpgEXPENSIVE

Where do you spend your time?
At work?
At home?
The road?

Who gets your time?
Your boss?
Your friends?
Your family?

What gets your time?
Your chores?
Your phone?
Or your dreams?


Day 23’s theme was “muddy”. Here’s my poem.

REALITY INTRUDES

img_20181023_233850_7313628685849924979883.jpg

A new project shines
with plans and great lines

The future looks bright,
naught’s left but to write

But once I’ve commenced
the order’s dispensed

The molehills grow tall
while the plot now stalls

The only way through
is drafting anew

From shiny to mud
turn to ink from blood.

 


Day 24 of #OctPoWriMo theme was ‘Chop’

CHOP, CHOP

img_20181025_004313_5855331509717121494014.jpgWhen you can’t face the mirror
as the monsters all draw nearer

And mistakes from in your past
seem too numerous and vast,

What you need then is a change
something different and quite strange

With a makeover and chop
take a little off the top

Hide the body well, my dear
and you’ll be living in the clear.


For day 25 of #OctPoWriMo, I presented a limerick, for the theme ‘prickly’.

When life gets rough, many of us have a tendency to cave and avoid others. With any luck, we have good friends.

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FRIENDS

 

There once was a prick-i-ly man
being alone was his true, perfect plan
He hid in his room
and welcomed his doom
But his friends would not follow his ban

 

 

 


Friday, the 26th’s theme was “stretch.” I know I’m not the only one who’s always creaked in the morning…

img_20181027_003357_2676051849523190980044.jpgWAKE UP CALL

Every morning when I wake
every step that I do take

I hear these sounds echoing
Rice Krispies or corn popping

When it started I was new
and now these days I must rue

Crackle, and snap, and pop-pop
from toes to hips, it won’t stop

when your ribs think they’re a joint
and your sternum adds a point

Are you really getting old?
Just stretch yourself and be bold.


Saturday the 29th brought us the word ‘thunder.’ The day was dreary and rainy, itself and led to this poem. (I did, despite my poetic dreams, get out of bed before 9am both days this weekend, using ALL my pep.)

img_20181027_195344_8593535411681836655024.jpgTHUNDER

Dark and dreary
makes me weary

Thunder rumbles
all pep crumbles

Rain is pouring
I’m ignoring

my alarm’s
incessant
chime


And Sunday’s challenge for #OctPoWriMo day 28 was: Gifts

WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE

img_20181028_224159_6133977781038322182378.jpg

There are gifts we give
and gifts we take
and gifts that we were born to use

And in each type
we find a mix
for some don’t fit us very well

Wish we could be rid
but we can’t share
the ones we must grow into

Ought to use for good
and not for ill
then we can be our best selves.