Green Man’s Revenge

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So I’ve been working on a story for submission to the Urban Green Man anthology and I don’t think I’m going to make it for the November 30th deadline. Well, I’m going to have it finished, but it’s not going to work out. No, this isn’t me doing the editors’ job for them. If I can conform to the guidelines, I’ll send it, but…

The story is a good one, I think, the characters work, I’m hitting all of the points I wanted, and things are really coming together.

Yes, I left starting the story late, but that’s because I actually threw away three complete plots and tossed half a dozen more ideas for various reasons rather than writing the first thing that popped into my head. When the story I really want to write finally crystallized, I should still have had plenty of time.

Yes, I’ve actually missed a couple of days writing due to real world stuff going on lately and playing too much with my new website, but on the days I’ve worked on it, I’m averaging 750 words per day which isn’t a bad pace. If I were done the first draft right now, I’d have time for all of the editing and polishing I’d want to do—I have two days alone in the house before the deadline, but it would be nice to have the ‘fix what’s broken’ draft done by then so I could concentrate on spit and polish.

The problem is that I’m looking down the throat of the 5,000 word maximum allowed under the submission guidelines and I’m seeing the ¾ mark of the story. Things suck for the hero(s) and bad stuff is happening. The POV has what he needs, but hasn’t figured that out yet, and I have to crush his spirit just a little more before the big climax. It’s going to demolish the 6k barrier before I’m done.

Dude, you say, you only need to carve out a thousand words (or so) to squeak by. Yes, that’s true, or it would be if there weren’t notes sprinkled through the story that read something like {put this here} so I could fill in some details on the second draft. And I have layers to layer in so they’re not obvious. And then I have to erase my tracks and make it pretty. And then I have to read it out loud to make sure I haven’t missed anything stupid.

5,000 words? Not bloody likely. “With shorter stories preferred”? Yeah, I’m screwed.

But it’s a good story and I’m going to make it the best one I can, shooting for the deadline. If it’s not under budget, well, that’s okay. It’ll still be a good story.

For now, it’s well after midnight, but maybe I can squeeze a few more words in before the caffeine wears off.

Be well, everyone.

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  • Renee


    Speaking as an editor who recently finished a project with very similar guidelines, if you get a draft that you like, and it is over the limit, send it anyway. That way the editors get to angst about whether to say ‘no’. Best result: they say ‘YES!’ and throw the guidelines out. Second best result: they tell you what can be cut — and they’re right. Third best: they reject you, but tell you where else to send it, because it is really that good….

    Seriously, this is an occupation where unbridled, irrational optimism is a virtue. 😉

    • Lance

      Thanks, Renee.

      Yeah, optimism is key the way things work, and if I thought I might come in a few hundred words over the limit, I’d send a quick email or connect with the editors on Twitter and ask if it was okay, but the first draft came in at 1600 words over the limit and has a bunch of little comments that amount to “add this here”. I have a hard time telling an editor why they should by my longer story instead of two shorter ones. I don’t know if I’ll be able to drag it under 6k while preserving the story, much less get close to the 5k target, but I’m going to try on my days off this weekend. If I can get close, I’ll send it.

      After all, the worst that can happen is that they’ll say no, right?

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