Good morning everyone! Happy Saturday. Brrrr!! It is freezing here in Canada. My toes have never been so chilly. I hope this winter business passes quickly! However, it is good writing weather!
Today I want to talk about challenging yourself with your writing. Yes, I know, to sit and write a masterpiece is a challenge and we’ve all conquered it, right?? ROFL Of course we have. But, what I mean is using submission calls / anthology calls to challenge you into writing a story you’ve never written before, staying within the box of the specifications to the anthology call, and keeping to the word count!
Evernight Publishing for example, does anthology calls every year. They’ve done, Dark Captive, Bad Alpha, Uniform Fetish, to name a few. The wonderful things about these anthology calls is that a) they are very popular with our readers, and b) it gives all authors a chance to delve into areas with their writing they normally wouldn’t. Dark Captive is a collection of dark romance, which I know a few authors had never written before but their stories were accepted and proved to themselves they could write outside the box they normally sit in. Now, I have only tried to write for one of the EP anthologies—Bad Alpha last year. Writing the story – Fighting for Honor – was no problem. I was done writing it within a week, and had conquered my first shifter. But it didn’t get accepted. Why not? The word count got me. Like other anthology calls I’d attempted to write for with other authors/publishers, I can never stay within the word limit. With FFH, I was over by 400 words and I’d already narrowed that down from the first draft, which was about 700 words longer. It doesn’t seem like a lot of words to cut, I know, but the anthology calls have a limit of 10,000 and when everything is already crucial to the story, it is difficult to omit more. I spent a few days agonizing over the story, trying to figure out what to cut, but everything I was left had to be there. I sent it out to another author, one I respected very much for writing shifter stories (our own Doris *g*), and she had a few suggestions but it still wasn’t enough.
But, I submitted it anyway. I thought, maybe if it is accepted, then an editor might be about to help me whittle away at that word count. I later received an R&R (revise and resubmit), a couple plot points and the acquisitions editor wanted to see the fate of the nasty villain meet a more drastic end, AND because they couldn’t see words to omit, they offered the R&R to publish the story as a single title! WOOT! So while I was specifically writing for the anthology in mind, and challenged myself writing a shifter, it worked out for me in the end because it still got published. I learned a lot about myself with that short story. I discovered that I did have it in me to write to certain specifications – answering submission calls and staying within some parameters can be difficult for some, and something I’ve always struggled with.
I have recently been invited to another anthology call, not with a publisher, but with a collective group of authors and it will release in 2017. The writing is going well on it and I am confident I can stay within the 25k word count for this one. I am hoping to come in between 15 & 20k to be honest. I’m challenging myself to make it. I love the characters and the flow of the story already, which are major bonus points.
It’s important to challenge yourself when writing. Write outside the normal box you put yourself in, tackle genres you never thought you would ever attempt and push the boundaries of each story wide open to create even more in-depth characters/angles to each story. And sometimes authors just need to use the challenge of what they normally wouldn’t do to hone their craft. I use my short Mustang stories as outlets between longer pieces. For a while, I needed that freedom to just pound on the keyboard whenever I was frustrated or overwhelmed. They’re more like one scene quickies that helped me through some difficult moments. We all have to find what works for us. Through the challenges, through the stories and what we find in the end can very well surprise us. So don’t limit yourself to one area, one box. Branch out, push yourself and let yourself fly.Answer a submission call you normally wouldn’t give much thought to, answer the Muse’s need to get outside the little box you’ve put her in.
You can do it! Never say you can’t!
Until next week,