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Posts Tagged ‘the view from here’

Kurt R.A. GiambastianiTime’s up!

Our “Handwritten MS” Contest is complete. And the winner is…

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A quick reminder: Today is the last day to put in your bid for the “Cast in Stone” rewrite documents.

Go to the contest post for info on how to enter to win the original story, my handwritten rewrite, and the final draft with markup.

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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiI finished the rewrite of “Cast in Stone,” today. It’s longer and, in my opinion, much improved. I’m going to give it another read-through before posting it, but I’m pretty happy with it.

As a reminder, I’m giving away the original story, the hand-written rewrite, and now I’m adding the marked-up printout that I created during this rewrite process. To enter this contest, go to the original contest post and leave a comment (full rules after the jump).

Rewrites are always instructive, if you approach it with the right attitude. Problems I thought were insurmountable (albeit 20 years ago) I now find correctable.

  • The “new character halfway through the story” issue was solved by bringing all three characters into the first scene.
  • The “too-short scene near the end” issue was fixed by combining it with the following scene.
  • The “too many POVs” issue I addressed by pulling the entire story up into full omniscient viewpoint.

But why rewrite the whole story, every word of it? Well, my style has changed a lot in 20 years, and I want it to sound like me, now, and not me, then.

Keep your eyes peeled.

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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiTonight, as I was working on the rewrite of “Cast in Stone,” I thought it might be a lark to offer up my handwritten MS to anyone who wants it.

Full disclosure: If no one puts in for it, I’ll pout a wee bit.

And so…

If you want to receive in the post a printout of the original version of “Cast in Stone” (with colorized markup, as posted here on this blog) accompanied by my handwritten rewrite (I’m rewriting the entire story, not just sections, on Rhodia paper with a St Dupont pen using Noodler’s Baystate Blue ink), all you have to do is this: (more…)

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Stack of BooksPeople have told me that I’m too tough in my critiques. Privately, I’ve been told that these “The View from Here” posts are too harsh, too critical. “New writers will make mistakes,” I’m told. “That’s what editors are for.” Poppycock.

A number of years ago, I used to read slush for a magazine. It was unpaid intern-type-stuff, but it taught me a great deal (as all good unpaid intern-type-stuff should). It taught me about deadlines and time-management. It taught me a lot about publishing, as I was able to see a lot of it from behind the scenes. It taught me the truth of the adage: The only way to make a small fortune in publishing is to start with a large fortune.

But most of all, it taught me to think like an editor.

An editor is like an alcoholic in a 12-step program–Let’s skip right over the joke about how most of them actually are alcoholics in 12-step programs and move right to what I mean by that.–i.e., editors read MSS one page at a time. Screw up on Page One, they’ll never read Page Two. After all, why go farther? Why read any more if page one just sucks? They won’t. Screw up on Page One–hell, screw up in Paragraph One–and you’re done.

So yes, I’m tough. And now, onto the next item I see a lot in some of the fiction posted out there: Bad metaphors and stupid similes.

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Stack of BooksI hear you already. “Not that old chestnut!” Sorry. Sad, but true: “Show, Don’t Tell” is one of the most common of errors I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks prowling the new-writer-blogosphere, and sometimes the errors are simply egregious.

First off, let me say that I believe it is damned near impossible to “show” everything in a story. I mean, come on; you have to take a short-cut through a description now and again. I also think it’s unnecessary to “show” everything. And, to round out the argument against, there really aren’t any “rules” in fiction…or at least there aren’t any rules you can’t break now and again. As always, know when you break a rule, and do it for a reason.

As promised, I’m going to pick examples of these errors from my own stories, posted here on this site. Some of these stories are my very first efforts, so finding errors in them usually isn’t hard, but “Show, Don’t Tell” is a mantra that was drilled into me early on in workshops and from editors, so I had to root about a bit to find these offenders. Every story has spots where I need to move things along and not gum up the momentum with a fully descriptive flashback. A memory here, a wondering thought there, these might be difficult to “show” thoroughly. So, even if you find this sort of thing in your own work, the errors may not be big enough to warrant a rewrite; fixing them might alter the flow of the tale.

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