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jakz404 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jakz404 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Self-Analysis
    Posted: 23 Nov 2022 at 9:56pm
So almost immediately after R1 closed I figured out how I should have totally redrafted by piece, due in part to how many basic errors I had with creative writing. My list includes the following:
  • "Show don't tell" - much of my piece was dialog between two characters just expositing, rather than really describing the scene/scenario
  • "Kill your darlings" - trying to remove common/repeated phrases that ate up the word count
  • Give names to characters - as above, I had a dialog, but only named one of the parties
  • Used "the word" but felt it was thrown in with little useful purpose
Let me know what other sage advice you aim to avoid for Round 2!


Edited by jakz404 - 23 Nov 2022 at 10:15pm
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slinkylink View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote slinkylink Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2022 at 7:52am
Great thread idea!

I got some forum feedback a few contests ago that has stuck with me: when it comes to shorter pieces, tighten the story's cast. 

Can you combine two characters and have them pull double-duty? Can you cut secondary characters? Trimming the cast can be challenging because usually the characters I don't want to cut are my "darlings." But while they might add to the flavor of the piece, provide comic relief, or be an interesting character in their own right, their inclusion requires too many words that should be redirected toward the main character, central conflict, etc. So for 100- and 250-word stories, I shoot for two characters at a maximum.


Edited by slinkylink - 24 Nov 2022 at 7:59am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote CamsynClair Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2022 at 10:26am
Originally posted by slinkylink slinkylink wrote:

Great thread idea!

I got some forum feedback a few contests ago that has stuck with me: when it comes to shorter pieces, tighten the story's cast. 

Can you combine two characters and have them pull double-duty? Can you cut secondary characters? ...So for 100- and 250-word stories, I shoot for two characters at a maximum.

YES! This is HUGE! I agree with your 2-max characters for Micro. For my MF100s, only one character got a name. In fact, for my R2 and R3, the characters were "Me" and "You". I think that takes a lot of work away from the readers (and me needing to come up with either symbolic or properly generic names in 24 hours LOL). I considered naming both of my characters in 250, but first person still won over. I found it so fascinating to me when I realized I couldn't pull off my 100s without writing in first person since I HATE writing in first person, but I found it worked so well for me for Micro! I used fist person for my Rhyming, too (with my characters being "Me", "You", and "Mom"), so it seems like to me if my stories are <600 words, they're first person. Any longer is third.

I also try to make sure there are no more than three named characters in any scene I write. Trying not to give too much away for my WB story given that battles are still running, I had a scene with a large group of people but only "featured" three characters. It was important for the scene that there were a lot of people, but I didn't dare confuse myself and readers by naming everyone there lol. 

In my writing, I tend to only mention one sibling, one parent, one friend, etc. I haven't written a short story yet where a large family was important, but if it were, I may feature one sibling while describing the others as "the baby", "the twins", etc. As someone who has trouble with names, limiting the cast is great! Can you tell I've done a lot of soul searching when it comes to limiting characters? LOL

When it comes to my 250 story, I have to admit this may be one of the most successful stories I've written for NYCM regardless of what placing it does or doesn't get with the judges! I worked on it late into the night and had my first go at multiple submissions (one at around 5:45pm, another around 11:30pm), so I worried I'd over-fiddled, but I think I may have fiddled just enough LOL Since I'm used to writing scenes instead of standalone stories, my biggest goal in any Short is to write a story that fits the word count and fill in as many plot holes as possible. I've only written 2/9 NYCM stories that I think really do that (this one included), so I think I'm getting better at that slowly but surely! 

A future goal may be for me to get better at writing descriptions. I visualize things very easily, so I often don't need to write descriptions for me to be able to "see" my story, but I forget that readers may very well be looking for that! I'm not as concerned about visuals for 100/250 but hope to get better with them for longer works.

...Whew, I think this may be the longest comment I've ever written! Thank you for the fun conversation! Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote jennifer.quail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2022 at 12:09pm
Don't be boring, but my R1 is so boring I have limited confidence in getting to R2. I think I went painfully literal (and uninspired; this is the fourth time, iirc, I've gotten A/A) and there's nothing interesting, and everyone else who posted in my group was much more engaging and fit in way more story. 

Edited by jennifer.quail - 24 Nov 2022 at 12:10pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Carelizafor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2022 at 1:28pm
The biggest thing Ive learned with the micro fictions is that the judging will be more subjective than the flash and short stories. Like I had directly contradictory reactions to my 100 word pieces. A word choice one loved, another hated. 

The best thing I have in my arsenal is a trusted editor who I feel comfortable letting rip my piece to shreds, but isn't in the competition as well. Someone who reads just for that purpose, asks a million questions and contradicts everything I write. I then pick through his edits and see what I feel is worth changing, and what I feel are things I want to double down on - things I feel "make" the piece. It helps me see if my message is getting lost, or if I've got a hole-y plot. 

Letting go of "pretty" sentences is always the hardest part for me, but micro fiction just doesn't need that. Stick to a plot and a message and you have more impact. 

The other thing is to start as close to the end as possible. One scene, never more than two. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote iress Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2022 at 3:23pm
One thing I’ve learned through observing some really brilliant writers through a few rounds of micro is the title is an opportunity to set the scene. Am I great at titles now? No. But I do put more work now into asking, especially in micro, how can I get my title do more work? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote FireHorse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2022 at 4:31pm
Outside this competition, where time is of the essence, my number one recommendation would be to leave a piece for at least a week and then come back to it. Amazing what you can see when you have a little distance.

In terms of this comp, things I try to consider:
- Revisit the opening. It's really easy to think I should start by explaining the situation in my mind's eye, but very often the reader only needs one or two key anchors and there's a lot I can cut from the first draft. This can also mean starting in the middle of the action.
- Ask myself about each and every adverb.
- Each and every dialogue tag. If I only have a few characters, it's often clear who's speaking. When it isn't, instead of a dialogue tag I often have that character (named) doing something or looking a particular way. More bang for my buck from the word count in terms of character / action.
- I also see a lot of dangling modifiers on the forums. (See https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/mechanics/dangling_modifiers_and_how_to_correct_them.html for examples.  Don't ask me why, but I'm hyper-sensitive to these. I think people do this to get the word count down, but it's one to watch out for in the editing process. 
- Also read it aloud. Or get someone else to read it to you. Amazing what pops up when you do that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote CHartman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2022 at 4:49pm
I love this thread!  Writing flash has improved my long form writing so much. Some of the things I now consider:

- I want my first sentence to grab the reader - shock or curiosity are my go-tos
- I examine every word to see if a. its necessary b. could be more emotive c. adds to the narrative
- eliminate as much necessary backstory as possible - this is my biggest struggle, I want to make sure my intention is clear so sometimes I don't give the reader enough credit for inferring my intention.
- Using Beta's is essential for my process but I need to trust my own instincts if the feedback does not serve the intention of my story - I have been swayed to make regrettable changes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carelizafor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2022 at 6:21pm
I love this advice. I don't think titles are my forte, but making sure they "do some of the work" is a great approach that I hopefully get to consider next round. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Mrsnetpro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2022 at 7:20pm
My biggest obstacle is procrastination and needing to have most of the storyline worked out in my head. I'm also my own worst critic and will edit my work obsessively. I was able to get over both for MF250, mostly because my expectations of doing well are so low that when I finished it and it was exactly 250 words I read it a few times and submitted it. 

Titles and synopsis are usually not a problem for me.


Edited by Mrsnetpro - 24 Nov 2022 at 7:20pm
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