In this story consult, featuring a very personal sword & sorcery tale by Matt John, we discuss a story which was polished, then submitted to a magazine and…rejected. Happens to pretty much all stories, but what do you do when it happens to you? Matt sought out an editor, Oliver, and in this episode you can hear them discuss strategies for Matt to consider in the next draft of his story. Hey, did you know Oliver’s now offering editing services?
In this conversation they discuss working through personal tragedy and difficult emotions in your stories, the “that” test and removing other filler words, good and bad editing/teaching philosophies, being a new writer working with an editor, how there’s just so much to remember in terms of writing rules, how nobody on Earth can write perfectly without an editor, Alan Moore’s love of tentacles, managing the distance between reader and protagonist, adding specificity to your stories, how it can be better not to name monsters, Stephen King’s On Writing, proper nouns as names in genre stories, Encanto and trauma producing magic, spotting when something you wrote works for you but is unlikely to work for a reader, how deeply felt emotions can fuel but also cause lapses in writing, Cormac McCarthy’s wife, thematic statements, writing exercises looking beyond your ending, PUBERTY, good old (literary) rejection, back matter and behind-the-scenes info in novels, what writing sex scenes and fight scenes have in common, HOW OLIVER’S NOW OFFERING EDITING SERVICES, learning to be comfortable showing your work to someone for critique, holding onto notes on your stories, and MORE.
Trying something new for the show, Oliver is sitting down with author Nathaniel Webb to consult him on his latest work-in-progress, a sword & sorcery short story! After a reading of the story so far, and a little getting-to-know-you, you’ll get to listen in on a proper story consult where Oliver will discuss Nat’s story, focusing in particular on his main concern – how to best weave fun worldbuilding and character backstory info into the story itself.
They also discuss how short stories can turn out to be harder than you’d expect, heist story traditions, considering word counts against prospective literary markets, both Howard’s The Tower of the Elephant and Leiber’s The Two Best Thieves in Lankhmar, outlining vs seat-of-your-pants writing, the very legit desire to write a story like one you’ve greatly enjoyed, wanting to show off your worldbuilding, finding nuance in “write to please yourself, not a hypothetical audience”, “Progression Lit”, placing a character geographically not only with description but with placement of that description, weaving worldbuilding into the action, “the portrait shot”, first drafts as essentially very detailed outlines, giving a character’s backstory in the scene where they’re introduced, a motivational poster from Oliver’s grade 10 English class, does a character having a secret create an undesirable distance between them and the reader, “protagonist brain”, and MORE.