Jenny Garden

JENNY'S JOURNAL

Earth to Jenny

September 4, 2016

Tags: shortstorycontests, rewriterules

I've been away so long I had trouble finding my way back. I learned that many agents take vacations in August, so I did, too, and pursued something entirely different.

Interest seems to be in the upswing for short story collections and contests. If you have several short stories, this is the time to gather them together and polish them to a fine glow. And that's how I spent my August.

Here are six rules I discovered to pass along:

I discovered that all those stories I'd thought were so good had a long way to go to be excellent. I threw out three that I could see were never going to make it.
1) You have to be ruthless.

When I went to work on the last story, I realized that it had been shortened to make the word count for a previous short story contest. I was able to go back into my computer files and find the missing parts, which makes a good case for
2) not trashing your earliest versions.

When I knew I had a good story but still was missing something, I found that
3) rewriting beginnings and endings makes all the difference.

A few stories were out of date just by everyday references. I had to rewrite to
4) make the setting clear (the past, the year) or else update to the present decade.

I discovered that while I was careful not to repeat certain words in any particular story, they popped up repeatedly throughout the collection. So I had to
5) comb through all stories in the collection to avoid word repetitions.

Finally, I made the mistake of trying to make corrections on read-only pages, discovered after having wasted hours (edits didn't save). That entire job had to be redone in a new file. This is a no-brainer, but we all slip up at one time or another.
6) Be sure your edits are saved!

Good luck!

P.S. I just read my last post (June) and while it's true I got a prompt response from an agent, that was the end of it. No other agents responded and no bites after that. So my unbridled enthusiasm is now bridled.

Selected Works

Nonfiction
Practical suggestions to help the reader avoid the pitfalls of a divorce lawsuit.
Children's
A lighthearted but thorough explanation of the holiday in a picture book for young children.