Three Affordable Ways to get Your Story Edited

No one would dream of intentionally publishing a work riddled with grammar and punctuation issues. Yet, the cost of professional editing can make it seem impossible to ever get your piece out there for the world to see. Even at the bargain rate of .03 per word, having a 1,000 word short story would cost you $30, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize that most paying markets for shorts pay you far less than that for the rights to publish your piece. So, how does a writer submit polished work while keeping publishing profitable? Here are three affordable ways to get your story edited.

Reach out to Your High School English Teacher

Alternately, reach out to that person in your social media network that is always correcting everyone else’s grammar. Often times, people who are excellent at spotting such errors would appreciate doing so to help out a friend, and, as a bonus, to get access to your short story before it is published.

Let him or her know you have completed a short story, and you would appreciate it if they would look it over for any glaring grammatical or punctuation errors. Make certain to include in your request, in a complimentary way, the reason you thought specifically of them for this task.

“Dear Mr. Clark, your College Prep writing course is probably the reason I write today. I was wondering…” 

“Hi, Rita, I’ve noticed you have a really good eye for catching grammatical errors…”

Remember that you are asking for a favor, and that this person’s time is valuable. You should say (and mean it!)  that you will understand if they are not able to take on such a project at this time. Be sure your request includes a reasonable deadline – you don’t want to rush the volunteer, but you also don’t want your story to end up in a perpetual “to do” list.

Swap With A Buddy

Perhaps there is another author in your writing group that you trust can give your piece a good, solid once over with “the red pen.” You could ask him or her to look at your work, and promise to return the favor.

“But, wait a minute,” you say. “If I was any good at editing, I’d be satisfied with my own edits of my work!”
Fair enough. But, is it possible you could return the favor to your fellow writer in some other way? Perhaps you could offer to Beta read a future project. Perhaps you are able to design a cover for him or her. Perhaps you’d be willing to dedicate one or more hours to plotting and brainstorming their work with them over coffee.

Whatever arrangement you make, you will want to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Be clear about what level of work you are committing to do in advance. You would not, for example, want to exchange an edit of your short piece in exchange for editing someone else’s 100k word novel.

Don’t have a writing group or writing buddy yet? Look around your social media and see if you can’t find a like-minded group of folks from which to cultivate such a relationship. The 10 minute Novelist facebook group, for example, posts a “find a buddy” thread once a week for making just this sort of connection.

Freelance Websites

Of the three Affordable Ways to get your story edited, this is my least favorite suggestion. While self-proclaimed editors advertise super cheap rates for editing on platforms like Fiverr and upwork, Why? Well, mostly because it has been the experience of those in my circle that, when it comes to editing, you often get what you pay for. Inexpensive editing work sourced by freelance sites such as Fiverr or Upwork may be a good deal if you can sift through all the bad ones to find the gems among them. If you have a friend who can recommend someone they’ve used with success, you’re golden.

 

There you have it –  three affordable ways to get your story edited. Have you thought of one I’ve missed? Drop it in the comments below.

How do Short Stories differ from Novels?

Short Stories differ from Novels

One of the few things better than an epic novel is a short story so poignant that it sets your imagination on fire, makes your heart ache, or leaves you in a fit of giggles. We all know that short stories  differ from novels; but have you ever thought about what makes them different? Length is one obvious difference, but there other some other distinct differences that would be helpful to understand if you plan to write a short story.

VIEW

Today, the difference I want to focus on is the ‘view’. In this case the term view refers to the perspective or focus of a story.  Short stories have a narrow perspective, we don’t see the whole picture, just a snapshot of it. Novel’s have a broad view, we see the bigger picture, a full length feature compared to a snapshot.  Let’s look at two scenes from the same setting,  each seen from  a different view.

A NOVEL HAS A BROAD VIEW

Imagine you can see a beautiful garden from a branch high in a tree. From the treetop you can see the whole garden, its walls, the patterns the paths make, and the many flowers and plants that grow there. As we watch, we would see the gardener as he plants, nurtures and watches the garden grow. Perhaps some children would run through and discover the body of a dead bird beneath the bird bath. A pair of lovers may appear at intervals; first falling in love, later having a fight, and toward the end making up. The gardener would be the thread that ties everything that happens in our garden scene together.

SHORT STORIES HAVE A NARROW VIEW

Now imagine you are seeing the same garden, only this time through a keyhole in the garden gate. You would only see one small part of the garden, perhaps a bed of foxgloves and a birdbath. Our focus would be on the birdbath. The birds that are bathing there, the bees buzzing all around, and the gardener’s cat, secretly watching from behind the foxgloves. We would watch as the cat stalks, pounces, plays with his prey, and then eventually leaves its body lying beneath the bird bath; the blue feathers growing still as it breathes its last.

SNAPSHOTS VERSES THE WHOLE PICTURE

As you can see, the differing views between our novel and our short story ends up giving us two different scenes, even though they are about the same garden. For another example of a snapshot within the context of a larger story you can go here and read a short story I wrote called “Cutting Fish”.

Today we discussed how one distinction between a novel and a short story is the ‘view’. A novel has a broad view and a short story has a much smaller, focused view. Come back next time when our topic will be the difference in the conflict’s complexity. While your waiting, check out our blog post on how to  Jump start your writing career with Short Stories.

Until then, keep it Short

Christina Cattane

A Journey Through the New Age of Short Stories

Welcome to the new age of short stories.

The new age of short stories is like a scene out of an old sci-fi movie, the camera pans in on people in the subway, all holding small boxes. Their faces glow blue from the light the boxes emit. Wires connect their ears to the boxes and they sit, stand and walk like zombies, seeing or hearing nothing but what is inside their little boxes.

The New Age has arrived

Almost everyone carries a smart phone or device everywhere they go. Our electronic devices have forever changed the face of reading in the developed world. Now instead of going to the Library, we carry entire libraries with us. Instead of a trip to the local book shop we search and buy books online to be downloaded immediately.

Wherever we are, at home or on the go, whether on a train, plane or bus, in the park, or on a break at work, we can pull out our library and escape to another world.  Your devices can even read your book to you if your driving or otherwise unable to read it yourself.

This is actually good news for short stories.

In an increasingly fast paced world peoples attention spans are getting shorter and they’re looking for that satisfaction you get from finishing a story in less time.

Here are just a few of the many different ways you can find and access short stories online:

Facebook: Story Star: A group for publishing, reading, and discussing short stories. This is just one example of many that can be found on Facebook.

Twitter: @ShortlyRead; Select how long you have to read, and Shortly gives you a top rated story of that length.

Reddit: /r/writingprompts; You’re a writer and you just want to flex those muscles? If you see a prompt you like, simply write a short story based on it. Get comments from others, and leave commentary for other people’s works.

Instagram: Little Short Stories is one profile on this platform where you can read short stories. There are many others, a visit to this blog post could help you find some of them.

The world of online short stories is truly a new frontier, so get out there and explore it. Read some, write some, publish some, and until next time; keep it short.

Christina Cattane

Jump Start your Writing Career with Short Stories.

Writing short stories is a great way to jump start your writing career. Instead of starting of with that grand novel, why not start small? Short stories will help you hone your craft and grow as a writer.

Those who have gone before

If you’ve been around the literary world any length of time you have heard of great novelists like F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck.

Works like the Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath are the stuff literary dreams are made of. What you may not realize is each of these men started his writing career writing shorts. Are you familiar with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” written by Fitzgerald?  In total, Steinbeck published five short story collections.  My favorite short work of his is, “The Pearl”.

These two are not the only famous writers to have written shorts – a quick Google search will find many others.

The Law of Averages

The more works you submit for publication the better chance you have of getting published.

Say you write a short story, and send it out for publication. While you are waiting for feedback, you can write still more short stories and send them out. Before long, you will have quite a nice portfolio of your fiction. Meanwhile, you will either find out that writing is the wrong field for you, or you will get something published.

Or, take the same amount of time (or more!) to write a novel, and, after you have finished, you will have just one work to submit to publishers.

I’m not saying don’t write your novel. I am suggesting, however, that while you do, write and submit shorts along the way, as well. Then, when you submit that novel, you can say, “These are my published works,” which can make you more attractive to those considering your manuscript.

Harnessing the power of rejection

Rejection hurts.

Which is more painful? Working for years on that Novel you’ve poured everything into and having it rejected, or spending a few days on a short and having it rejected?

Of course, if you are writing and submitting shorts constantly, you are likely to be rejected over and again before you are finally published. When this happens, consider it practice – thickening your skin, or strengthening your spine, if you prefer. After all, rejection is the hallmark of a writer who is actively submitting, and an writer who is actively submitting is moving her career forward.

Improve your craft 

Ray Bradbury once advised all writers to write a short story a day for a year.

True, when you first start writing, everything you produce might be bad. But Bradbury went on to say it would be impossible to write 365 “bad” short stories. If you wrote that much you would only improve. Writing would become like riding a bike – the more you do, the better you’ll get. That new and better writing will translate over to that novel.

Explore other genres

Writing shorts is a great way to explore writing in multiple genres.

Think you may like to write science fiction?  Short pieces are a relatively painless way to try new things. If it stinks, toss it out. Try your hand at Romance or Fantasy, instead. Pen a Noir Crime drama, or try some speculative fiction. Who knows? One such short story could move your writing career in a whole different direction.The risk is low, and the rewards potentially priceless.

In Conclusion

Writing short stories is a great way to jump start your writing career.

Many famous novelists started out writing shorts. The law of averages says the more works you submit, the greater your chances for publication. Rejection will be less painful than with a work you spent great time and energy on. Your writing will improve, and it is a low risk way to experiment with other genres and techniques. Try it, you’ve got little to lose and a literal world to gain.

This is Christina Cattane signing off. Until next time, keep it short.