I like challenges. Particularly, I like writing challenges. I like writing challenges in which I give myself pretty-colored star stickers as rewards for accomplishments. Yes, I’m easily thrilled. Yes, it is wonderful to be easily thrilled.
SO! I’ve come up with a wild new plan for my short-story writing self. This month is swamped with novel-writing progress-to-be-made, and next month is going to be all wonky with trips and off-weeks and moving. This gives me July as my EXTREME SUBMISSION CHALLENGE month. Here is my challenge to myself, and please feel free to steal it and try to do it yourself. I’m not 100% convinced I’ll succeed, but I don’t care! I’m entertained. :-)
EXTREME SUBMISSION CHALLENGE: 4-Story Month
How to Play:
1. Pick a magazine you really want to see your byline in. This is your TARGET.
2. Spend all of May researching that market. Read as many back-issues as you can. Study the selected stories. Analyze commonalities, strengths, weaknesses, tone, mood, style, etc., etc. Read so much of that magazine that your eyes cross and you sleep-talk guidelines.
3. (Here’s where it may diverge from writer to writer, depending on your method of composing a story.) This is how I’m going to do it: In June, create 12 rough story concept proposals that would fit the guidelines, tone, word count, etc. for the TARGET market. These story concept proposals (for me, with a lean toward genre fiction) will include the following:
A) The central SF/Fantasy element.
B) The main conflict/goal that will be resolved/reached by the end of the story
C) A general idea of who the main character will be (as detailed or vague as preferred)
D) A thumbnail-rough sketch of the estimated required scenes to get to the fulfillment of B.
4. In July, write one story for every full week, beginning on Sunday of the week and finishing at End of Day on the following Saturday. The draft does not have to be polished, but it must be finished, even in painfully rough form.
1. Each of the four stories for the month of July must be FINISHED in at least rough-draft form.
2. Each of the four stories for the month must be written in the one week time-frame, from SUN-SAT of the same week.
3. Each story has to be within the word count specified by the guidelines, or by yourself (for me, I’m shooting for under 5k, since I tend to drift long in my short fiction and would like to practice shorter).
4. The ideas for these four stories (all 12 of them leading up to the end of the challenge) must be fresh ideas. This means they must be created wholly with the TARGET in mind, and you may not use any story idea that you have ever attempted (successfully or not) to put on paper. If it has so much as a paragraph of previous writing derived from the same idea, IT DOES NOT COUNT. This goes for rewrites of older stories, which also do not count. (I’m doing this because I tend to spin my mental wheels on the same story ideas for long lengths of time without moving forward on them, and without giving myself the freedom to leave them alone and try something new.)
5. Have fun! After all, this is the whole reason I’m doing this challenge myself. Yes, I’m trying to train myself to shorten my word counts and familiarize myself with a given market, but ultimately, I love writing, and this will be a fun way to refresh my short story writing after a long stint of novel-only work. Plus, in the end, I may have a story or two worth submitting, and possibly up to 9 story proposals I can whip out when I’m stuck for ideas but want to write. It’s a win-win!
And the challenge begins… NOW.