This month’s guest blogger is Steph Newham, the chair of Lockerbie Writers, and a lover of short stories and historical fiction. Here, Steph shares her thoughts on editing short stories …
I’ve spent the last two months editing a bunch of short stories that had been languishing in a finished folder. Deep down I knew they weren’t truly finished because the devil on my shoulder whispered, ‘the mark of a good short story comes with serious editing.’ I really liked this bunch of stories but I knew I could make them better. So I knuckled down and stripped out all those word repeats, the tags, the clunks, the excess adjectives. I wanted to make them sizzle; shorter, tighter, more compelling. That was my intention…
All writing is a skill to be learnt. We writers can hone our craft, spend many solitary hours elevating it to an art form. Some hope, you think as you grapple with yet another clunky sentence that has escaped earlier edits. Just accept that it takes time to master the techniques. Keep at it.
Now I’ve honed my stories, I’m reasonably satisfied, but I’m still not finished. I have to re-read them with two questions in mind:
- Where does the the story really start? Have I started too far back, am I still trying to introduce stuff that could be dropped in as back story at suitable points within the piece? And
- Is the story complex enough, does it emulate real life? Are lots of things going on at the same time?
This winter has been a conscious process of writing, editing and re-writing. After all the hard work I hope I’m finally achieving the ability to spin a good story.
By Steph Newham, February 2017
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About the Writer
Steph Newham took up writing when she retired from the NHS. She did a Cert in Creative Writing followed by an MA at Lancaster University. She is currently working on a collection of Short Stories as well as a historical novel. She is chairperson of Lockerbie Writers and a member of Powfoot Writers. She has had articles published in newspapers and short stories in an anthology and on-line e-zines. She enjoys running workshops and encouraging others to develop their writing skills.