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News & Events for C. Dennis Moore

WRITER'S MANIFESTO

Posted 2/13/2017

A Manifesto:


What I stand for and want to accomplish as a writer:

There are 2 things I’ve always wanted to showcase in my work -- 1) writing as an art form, and 2) the case for “horror” as “literature”.
My love of horror goes back to the beginning and I’ve often felt it gets the short end of the genre stick. Horror is the poor man’s fantasy and science fiction. It’s the dull-witted step-son, the fat friend you have to bring along to the party because he’s got the car. And Hollywood isn’t helping. I want to show that horror doesn’t have to get by on the same old clichés and cheap scares, that it CAN be done in a mature, original way that elevates not only the story but the genre.

I believe--hope--that much of my past work, stories like “The Insanity Dance”, “The Room”, “Monday”, and even the science fiction story “Timesmiths” bears this out in the, what I hope was original, ways in which these stories were told.

I strive to continue this in seeking new and interesting ways to tell my stories--but also never to let the method overtake the story in importance. The story must always be the heart of the matter, and the method secondary.

I may also begin to further explore horror as an idea, seeking to better understand what it is that makes horror so appealing to its fans and maybe how better to capitalize on that appeal to help reach a larger audience.

Truly, all I ever wanted to be was a horror writer. I should try for nothing less than being the best horror writer I can be.


What I want to write about:

I want to write about relatable characters in relatable situations.

I think I have tried, from the beginning, to take everyday situations common to everyone and show them in a horror setting.

I want to write stories that are set in the world we know, that start with situations we’re all familiar with--taking out the trash (“Payroll Man’s Ordeal”), working (“Plaything”, “The Strange Thing that Happened at the SpinCycle Laundry”), driving home (“Biscuithead”)--before introducing the horror, whether supernatural or not--and it’s not always; sometimes the worst horrors are those we inflict on each other (“The Stand-In”).

But I want to write stories readers can identify with.

However, I can’t limit the settings to ones I’ve experienced--sometimes the familiar is character-driven as opposed to situational.

The mountain setting in “Coming Down the Mountain” isn’t something I expect a lot of people to have experienced, but hopefully the feeling Barrett has, of being the “odd man out”, trying to prove himself to Seamoon and Toomey, the “popular” kids in class, is. The same with “All Mother’s Children”. Not everyone is the worker-bee spawn of a monster, stranded in the middle of nowhere after a plane crash, but I think the sibling dynamic of the characters is definitely understandable to most readers.

I want to write stories that entertain.

I feel neither the need nor the desire to write lengthy dissertations on the human condition. Nor do I ever want to talk down to my readers, as if I feel the need to educate them.

I want to write stories they come to because they know they’ll be entertained, they know they’ll relate in some way to the characters or the setting or the situation.

But all of this is surface stuff. What is my goal?

I want to write stories familiar and relatable, I want to write stories that invite readers in, have them sit back and get comfortable, even leaning back in the chair because they’re just so at home--and then I want to kick the chair out from under them.

Because horror is my first love, horror fiction is my main focus--but that’s not to say I won’t step outside that box, frequently; everything serves the demands of the story first, not the genre. As long as I strive always to entertain, I think the rest will fall into place, whether it’s a short story, a comic book script, a poem, novel, horror, science fiction, or whatever I’m moved to write.

This is the whole purpose of writing within the realm of the familiar, to give the readers characters they know, characters that could be them, doing things they do on a daily basis.


How I plan to achieve my ultimate goal:

The work is first and foremost. A writer is nothing without the work to back him up. I’ll do my best to avoid the tired clichés--wherever possible--and to not talk down to my readers. I’ll try, always, to “elevate the story” as Sean Stubblefield said.

If I gain their trust in turning in quality work that is uniquely mine, and get them coming back for more, hopefully they will follow me even further.

With novels, serials, comics, and more, I plan to expand my brand and create a name synonymous with quality horror, and fiction in general, with pushing the boundaries and limits of what horror, and fiction, can do.

With this manifesto I dedicate myself to the task of showing writing as an art form and horror as literature.

I will write.

I will publish.

 

Process goals:
Write the stories. Polish the stories. Publish the stories.
Organize more collections of my work. And promote the hell out of them.
Publish comics.
Audiodramas.
Video game.
Movie adaptations.
Expand the reach of the newsletter.
Heart. Horror. Spectacle.


How I stay motivated to do the work:

One of the main things that hinders me in fiction is not trusting myself enough. More often than not, I’m afraid I won’t be able to write that compelling opening that grabs a reader, or I don’t trust my characters to be fully realized or to use believable dialogue. I don’t trust myself to write something readers want to read.

Why is that?

Lack of self-confidence. And I know those times when I have felt confident, I’ve had a tendency to become too confident, which comes across as cocky. And that’s not good for anybody. I need to find a balance.

Sometimes I rush into stories, I think. I may ponder them for days at a time before I start writing, but that’s only to get the beginning and end down in my head, so I know what I’m writing toward. But it’s always the middle that stops me.

I’ve never been one to outline--nor do I ever imagine being one to rely on outlines; part of what keeps the writing interesting for me is discovering the story as I go. But I don’t think taking a little more time in the planning would be such a bad thing. Having a little more understanding of the story may keep me from getting tied up with the “what next.” Or maybe I just try too hard to force the story because I want to get words on the page.

Setting deadlines for myself seems to help a lot, but I don’t to it often enough--never in fact, unless I realize a month into a first draft that I’m nowhere near finished.

I’m usually pretty good at estimating a story’s length once I’ve gotten a decent start on it, so setting realistic deadlines will, I believe, definitely help to keep me motivated and working. But also, not rushing into the story will, hopefully, prevent me from hitting that mid-story “what next” wall.

I also need to re-establish my editing routine. I don’t know where it’s gone, what’s happened to it, but I seem to have lost my focus in that area, too. I used to have methods, including shortening lines, deleting adverbs and forms of “to be”, but have, in recent years, apparently forgotten all of that.

Reliable first readers is also a must have. I’ll find reliable first readers and enlist their help. I’d like to include at least one or two non-writers in this group.


How I will use my work to inspire people and impact their sense of the world:

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that horror writers, no matter how depraved and rotten the things their imaginations come up with, are some of the most kind-hearted, giving, generous and loving people you’ll ever meet.

I would like to find a charity that means something (The Haven Foundation is looking really good, also the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, plus Scares That Care), and pledge a portion of everything I make from writing to it--or I could find several charities and tailor special projects for them.

To inspire and impact lives, I would like to do all of this under the guise of, specifically, a horror writer’s banner, so that not just one writer, who happens to write horror, is responsible, but the horror writing community.


How I will link myself and my work to a “larger social network”:

I’ve already taken some steps in this direction by featuring some of the writers I view as my peers on my website. There are more I want to highlight, but it shouldn’t stop there.
There are definitely writers I see as producing work that is most similar to mine, with a vision very close to my own.

I wouldn’t mind collaborating with some of them. I would also like to do some world building, maybe themed anthologies based on their stories, possibly some world sharing.
I wouldn’t mind seeing what kind of stories they came up with using Angel Hill as the setting.


My Brand:

If I go back and look at all the stories I’ve written, a number of themes pop up over and over.

There’s “identity”, where who the character is or isn’t is what drives the story. Examples would be “The Stand-In”, “Plaything”, and “Parliament of Jim”. Another recurring theme is the question of Heaven or Hell and the many different interpretations of such. Stories like “Camdigan”, “The Legend of Mr. Cairo”, “Angels of No Mercy” and “Like the Fruits of the Devil” explore the Heaven and Hell mythology in a number of very different ways.

Relationships are also a big one in my fiction, something like “Safe at Home” being the most obvious and personal.

While most of my identity fiction is rooted in my own questions about where I came from--I never knew my dad, nor anything about his side of the family until I was 27--and the Heaven/Hell stories help me to deal with fears I have about death, the relationship stories are mostly drawn from my own personal experience in how two people deal with each other--which usually comes out as “combative” on the page, especially when those two people are both stubborn and independent thinkers.

My “brand” is a sound mix of all these types of stories, wherein characters are dealing with questions of “Who am I?” “What happens when I die?” and “What’s this strange person doing in my house and why are they telling me what to do?”

On the other hand, I think I also provide an interesting mix of “what if’ stories as well. “What if a house was alive?”--“The Room” and “Renovation”. “What if you found a dead baby in the garbage?”--“Payroll Man’s Ordeal”. “What if Santa Claus ate the bad children?”--“Working for the Fat Man”.

So I don’t believe my “brand” is any one thing or another. I have my recurring themes, but I also think I shine most brightly when I’m not working in one of those areas, but am asking one of the more outrageous what ifs.

I do know that, in almost all of these stories, we’re dealing with everyday blue collar people who get up and go to work in the morning, who worry about bills, who watch TV at night and shuffle around in the morning until the coffee is ready. I try to write as often as possible about regular characters thrust into situations the average person doesn’t find themselves in every day, and then I like to see them prevail or fail, depending on their own strengths and weaknesses. It doesn’t always end well for them, I know that.

One thing I know I want readers to expect coming into my work is not knowing what to expect. I try to mix it up as much as possible--even when dealing with so many recurring themes. I may write about the same few topics over and over, but I strive to always keep it fresh and unpredictable.


My Path:

Write. Polish. Publish.
Heart. Horror. Spectacle.

For the foreseeable future, the titles of the next 10 projects are written down and I’ll be working through them one at a time.

I’ll also go through the books I’ve already published and keep their front and back matter up to date, as well as updating all of the covers and experimenting with prices.


My Message:

I don’t know that I’ve ever included a social message in any of my work. I don’t think I’d know how to do it without sounding like I was preaching. Instead I try to focus simply on telling good stories and telling them well. If I had a message it would be only that the limits of what fiction and storytelling can do are nonexistent. There are so many ways to tell a story, so many ways to make the art work for us to inspire our own imaginations as well as our way of thinking, of doing away with these restrictions on what we think we can do when in reality we can do anything.

Writing is more a business now than an art form, and I don’t agree with that at all. Obviously a writer wants to make enough money to be able to write full-time. Because we’re greedy? No, because we’re not suited for anything else, and there’s no other job out there that fulfills us as human beings--and isn’t being fulfilled the point of living life? But I think in a lot of cases--even though few would admit it--the desire isn’t to write the best stories and further this art of fiction and storytelling, but to make money and be famous. The truth of the matter is there are very very VERY few writers who are household names. In relation to the number of authors on bookstore shelves, the writers the average person can list off the top of their head is a very small fraction of the total number of publishing authors. And most of those “lesser known” writers will always be in that position.

The chances of doing this with the end result of worldwide fame and millions of dollars is so slim as to be almost nonexistent. So we write because it’s what we were made to do, simple as that.


My Passion:

Telling the best story I can, in the most interesting way I can. My passion is in finding new ways to say something, new ways to look at situations or ways to phrase something. I love telling a familiar story in a way that hasn’t been done to death, for example “Birth Day” or “Family Name” or “When Jessica Went Home”--all vampire stories, but as unlike the regular vampire story as I could imagine.

My passion is in finding that spot in the story where the words come without any effort, where the conversation between characters carries the story. My passion is in the moment something I may have mentioned offhand early in the story comes into play in a big way at the end, when a minor, insignificant detail turns out to be the whole point on which the story rests, or when the story takes a huge turn and goes in a direction I didn’t anticipate, but one that feels wholly accurate.

My passion is in telling a story a reader thinks is one thing, only to reach the end and find out they weren’t even close (“When Jessica Went Home” I think does this very well).

My passion is in finding that story or that situation or that description or that sentence that makes my gut tighten and my heart flutter.

These are the stories I want to tell, and this is the work I want to do.

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SKETCHBOX JANUARY 2017

Posted 1/30/2017

PanPastels Rich Gold and Pearlescent Blue ($8.00/): This mo nth is all about unique PanPastels!  PanPastel Colors are professional artists' quality soft pastel colors packaged in a unique pan format.  The special qualities of PanPastel Colors mean that artists can blend and apply dry color like fluid paint for the first time.  These colors were curated to demonstrate their pearlescent colors, and pair well with your metallic palette from last month.  They can be laid over your dried watercolors to blend across colors and tones.

 

Sofft tools Applicator handle & replacement heads ($6.99): Sofft tools have been specifically developed for use with PanPastels soft pastels.  This tool is ideal for blending, softening edges, and applying colors in difficult to reach areas.

 

Moo Professional Eraser [STAFF FAVORITE ($1.69)]: Fun fact: PanPastels are fully erasable!  This is one of our favorite erasers, and it works wonderfully with the PanPastels due to its soft yet dense nature and that it doesn't damage paper even with excessive rubbing

 

Pilot Fineliner ($1.90): We included this fineliner to add outlines or provide more detail to your new pastel piece.  Pilot's premier marker pen is world renowned for providing the ultimate experience in smooth drawing. 

 

Also, this month's inspiration piece was provided by Joanne Barby, who says: 

"I'm an artist who lives in a small town on the NSW South Coast of Australia.  I have always loved art, especially the process of making art.  As an artist I find inspiration, in that we get to "see" things that may go unnoticed, if not explored so closely through an artwork.  My medium of choice is PanPastel, as it allows me to loosely block in, thin layers of what I "see" in colour, with no detailed drawing first.  The ease of application and ability to erase any mistakes, takes any pressure off whilst using this medium.  i teach workshops all over Australia and the US in PanPastel and love sharing creativity with other likeminded people."

Follow Joanne at www.instagram.com/joannebarby, www.facebook.com/JoBarby, and www.pinterest.com/joanne barby

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LOOT CRATE JANUARY: ORIGINS

Posted 1/24/2017

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  LOOT CRATE came!  This month's these was ORIGINS and it wasn't a bad haul at all.  Here's what I got:

First up, this Exclusive Captain America Golden Age Shield is AWESOME.

The Exclusive Original "Jumpman" shirt reminds me of the good old days.

The Exclusive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tiki Muglet is cute, but I'm not sure what I would do with it; it's the size of a prescription pill bottle!

The Exclusive reprint of Action Comics #1 will probably stay in the plastic since I had a reprint of it 20+_ years ago and have already read it, not to mention I have it digitally as well.

But it sure does fit nicely into the comic book holder that the Loot Crate box transforms into.  That's probably my favorite thing about this month's crate.  I just love storage.

We'll see what next month is going to bring before I decide whether to keep going or cancel my subscription.

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A FREE GIFT FROM FUNKO!

Posted 1/22/2017

I got an email a few weeks ago from Marvel Collector Corps saying Funko was sending me a free gift.  That's all it said, no other details.  So I had no idea what was coming and, in fact, forgot all about it until the doorbell rang yesterday, which the lady who delivers my mail does if there's a big package and someone's home.  Imagine my surprise when this was what she had for me.  It's definitely more than I was expecting, but I'm not complaining:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WRITING WITH FLAWS

Posted 1/17/2017

“Front-rank characters should have some defect, some conflicting inner polarity, some real or imagined inadequacy.” --Barnaby Conrad

If only I’d known this two decades ago. Hell, I sort of did, I guess. I’ve been reading Marvel comics since I was 15 and one thing Stan Lee knew back in 1961 was that characters, in order for a reader to connect with this super hero who seems larger than life and has abilities the average person could never even dream, that character has to have a struggle in his life. For Peter Parker, he’s got super strength, can stick to walls, is a brilliant inventor, but he just can’t catch a break and has to make a living selling pictures of his alter ego to a man who publicly calls him a menace.

Tony Stark, another genius inventor and founding member of the Avengers, is a womanizing alcoholic.

Bruce Banner … another genius … must fight a constant battle against the mindless beast that lives within him.

See, the DC heroes never had these problems. Sure, Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered in front of him. But Clark Kent had a happy, stable childhood and unbelievable power to boot. Sure, he’s got Lex Luthor always at his heels, but let’s be honest: if he wanted to, Superman could snap Luthor in half and be done with him.

Wonder Woman comes from Paradise Island. I mean PARADISE ISLAND!!! I was born in Saint Joseph, MISSOURI and that’s a LONG way from Paradise Friggin’ Island.

Barry Allen (The Flash), Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Aquaman. Sure, they have their share of troubles when it comes to their rogues galleries, but at the end of the day, you never read stories about Barry wondering how he was gonna pay his rent, or Hal flying everywhere because he couldn’t afford a car. Aquaman never went home at night to find his lights had been shut off.

And relationship problems? Don’t even get me started on the difference between Marvel and DC. The point here is that Stan Lee knew a long time ago that his characters, no matter how amazing or incredible, had to be PEOPLE. And people are flawed. Good God, are they! Unfortunately, I feel like it took me FOREVER to understand this to the point I could utilize it in my fiction. And I’m still working on it to this day. For instance, the project I’m currently and secretly working on has five main characters and I need to give each one a flaw--but without making it feel like a fictional flaw for the sake of giving them a flaw. They have to come as a natural extension of who that character is. So that’s where I am on the current--secret--project.

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WRITING WITH MUSIC

Posted 1/16/2017

“The actual process of writing…demands complete, noiseless privacy, without even music; a baby howling two blocks away will drive me nuts.” --William Styron

This is me. Sometimes. There was a time, however, from about 1992-2003 when I had music playing from the moment I sat down to write until I was done for the day. Then one day, for whatever reason, I found myself unable to concentrate if music was playing. I know a lot of writers will tell you they’ve always got music playing, that it helps their creativity--and that was me, too. I can even tell you that I was listening to Paul McCartney when I wrote my story “Coming Down the Mountain”, specifically the song “C-Moon”. How do I know that for a story I wrote maybe 15 years ago? Because I named one character Seamoon and another Toomey.

But then one day, nothing. I just couldn’t focus. And I envy the hell out of those writers who can still make it happen. My friend Caleb Straus writes with music all the time. Lucky fucker. I put on music every now and then again--right now I’m listening to THE VERY BEST OF PRINCE. I’ve tried the “Coming Down the Mountain” trick again from time to time over the last few years, but have found that it depends on the project. In the middle of a novel is okay, sometimes. But like when I was working on the Angel Hill videogame a few weeks ago, I had to have silence in my office. I think it all depends on whether or not I have the leeway to let my mind wander. The game took a lot of concentration. In the middle of a novel, I have a little more breathing room. I would love, however, to get back to the days when it was music music music, because my God I have a ton of CDs (remember those?) in my office.

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WRITING IN YOUR OWN SPACE

Posted 1/13/2017

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." --Virginia Woolf

This is 100% accurate.  You have to do it.  And I get that not everyone has a separate room in their house where they can go and close the door and work in solitude, but if you want to do this job and do it seriously, you HAVE to set up a space that is just yours, and when you're in that space, no one is allowed to intrude.  It can be a corner of the bedroom, or the dining room table during certain hours of the day.  Honestly, though, you'd be better off in a closet.  A closed door does wonders for the creative mind.  I write at home alone for most of the day, but even when I'm the only one in the house, I close my office door.  It's a mental trick to shut out the world and really focus.  I've never understood how people are able to take their laptop to a coffee shop and create anything of value surrounded by other people.  That's not to say it's wrong, or they can't do it, I just don't get it.  A writer--or musician or painter, whatever your creative outlet of choice--needs to have a space dedicated to that thing.  It's the first step in taking it seriously as opposed to seeing it as simply a hobby.

And then, once you've cordoned off your area for WORK, personalize it.  Put up a picture, place an action figure next to your computer, or buy a chair that is just for writing.  Whatever you do, personalize that space so everyone else in the house knows this is MY spot where I work.

If you're still trying to create at the kitchen table while the family is in the living room watching television all night, or worse, you're huddled one on end of the couch with your laptop while they're playing videogames two feet from you, take this one important step and get the hell out.  Find a room, ANY room, with a door, even the aforementioned closet.  Tape a sign to the outside of that door that reads "Unless it's bleeding, it can wait!", and then close that door and don't open it again until you're done for the day.  You have to do it.  You'll thank me later.

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WRITING OUT OF NECESSITY

Posted 1/8/2017

“A publisher friend of mine says that most writers are not real writers, they are just people who ‘want to have written.’ Real writers are those who want to write, need to write, have to write.” --Robert Penn Warren

Ain’t it the truth. I’ve met so many writers over the last 20+ years who were obviously only in it for the prestige, so they could pull out a magazine or an anthology and see their name in print and show it to people and say, “I wrote that.”

I’ve heard from writers who have said, out loud, in public, where people can hear them, that if publishing wasn’t so easy now, they never would have stuck it out. They don’t have the patience for the submission process, and they don’t need any editors telling them their stuff isn’t right for this or that publication.

Fucking pussies. Any writer worth a shit will tell you this is a HARD business, but they stuck with it because they couldn’t imagine their life any other way, that WRITING is the thing they were meant to do. Whether world-renowned or living in obscurity, they were going to be writing.

I wrote for several years before I ever saw publication, and it was a good 20 years before I ever made any real money at it. But through all those years of form rejections, I was up every morning at 4:00 AM to write for two hours before work. And if I overslept, it ruined my entire day, even if I got up in time to make it to work, but not in time to write. Going on vacation was also sketchy because that’s 3 or 4 days not writing, and anyone who lives and breathes this stuff will tell you those 3 or 4 days feel like 3 or 4 months. The first thing you want to do when you get home is write. You can unpack later.

But we come back to the “want to have written” camp. I just can’t deal with these people. I just can’t. Love it or leave it alone.

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SKETCHBOX, JANUARY 2017

Posted 1/6/2017

SketchBox came yesterday.  Not a bad box, probably worth the $31, and stuff my daughter can put to use right away on a project she's working on. Here's the haul (from left to right):

4 x Sargent Liquid metal Watercolors ($4.11 each): Add dazzling detail and eye-catching special effects to any watercolor painting or create entire gold and copper toned pieces with a real mica shimmer.  These watercolor pans offer rich, vibrant metallic color.  Each is individually packaged in a durable and reusable clear plastic clamshell container.

Princeton Heritage Round Size 2 ($5.05): Princeton's flagship brush.  More than 20 years ago, Hertiage Series was the first synthetic sable to be offered to artists.  Heritage was developed for Princeton by master Japanese brush-maker Naohide Takamoto.  This brush drinks up gulps of water, paints supple strokes and has a natural snap.

Pebeo 4 Artist Marker 4mm - Silver ($4.50): This one is a show stopper!  it's just like liquid metal creating a near mirror like finish on a flat surface.  This marker is perfect for accenting your new finished metallic water color piece.  Just like oil paints, these fast-drying colors can be reworked when dry to create shading, fading, and gradients.  Saturate the tip with silver to create splashing and dripping effects!

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Big Brush Pen ($5.75): These Pitt Artist Pens contain the same high-quality pigmented India Ink as the originals, but with Big Brush nibs for full coverage or narrow, detailed strokes.  Acid-free, archival ink is smudgeproof, waterproof, and won't bleed through paper making it perfect to outline your watercolor piece.

The inspiration piece this month is from Rose Ingracia, who had this to say:

Hello, my name is Rose, and I am a self-taught artist from the beautiful state of Nebraska.  I have loved the arts ever since I could hold a pencil.  However, seeking inspiration from other artists and being able to connect is really what pushed me to take art more seriously.  My favorite medium to work with is watercolor, because the light pigment creates an elegant look that I really love.  I love to create my pieces with a meaning behind them, so each one of my works give a little insight into my life.  I am very happy to have started my very own small business and I look forward to continued growth.  As I continue developing my skills as at artists, my one hope is to inspire others, just as they have inspired me.  as an artist, my favorite quote is by Edgar Degas, "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."

Cehck out more on my Instagram @justyourordinaryartist, and my Etsy shop.

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WRITING WITH AN EDITOR

Posted 1/5/2017

“On the whole, I have found editors friendly and pleasant, but unpredictable and uncertain and occasionally embarrassing in their desperation. So seldom do they get what they think they want that they tend to become incoherent in their insistent repetition of their needs. A writer does well to listen to them, but not too often, and not for too long.”
--Jerome Weidman

Working with editors is tricky business. I’ve worked with a lot of editors over the years--or rather, a lot of people who have edited my work. And that last line, about not listening to them for too long is absolutely right. The thing to remember when dealing with editors--and when I talk about editors here, I’m talking strictly about those people we pay to look over our stories and make sure we’re not about to embarrass ourselves by putting them out into the world--is that their word isn’t law.

Whether you get ask a friend to proofread your story and offer suggestions, or you paid one to help you shape your final story because of their experience and expertise in the field, the final say is still yours. As the author, no one knows the story better than you. You may not have conveyed it in the best possible way, the clearest way, and an editor will, hopefully, be able to help you bring that out. But if they start talking about how you have to make this change and make that change and this bit here in the middle is stupid and wrong, that’s when you have to stop for a moment and ask yourself what is the story I wanted to tell and is this change going to help tell that story, or is this change simply the editor’s opinion?

I once had a short story accepted for publication on the condition I drop ¾ of it (to be fair, it was really three very short stories told as one, so I COULD have dropped three of the four and been left with one short short story). I looked at it. I considered it. And then I wrote back and told the editor thanks, but even if I made that change, and then, for some reason, the magazine folded before my story saw publication, I’d just put those other parts back in there the next time I submitted it, because THAT was the story I wanted to tell there.

The editor told me he understood, and although he wouldn’t be taking the story as it was, I had earned his respect. Granted, a check for publication would have been great, but as a newbie--and I was a TOTAL newbie; I think I had, at that point, maybe 2 credits to my name--respect of an industry pro was pretty good too. And it paid off later when I asked that editor for a blurb for an upcoming novella that was being published.

Listening to your editor is very important; that’s why we hire them, because we want their advice and opinions, and every story will benefit from another set of eyes. Or two. Or four. But when they say what they have to say, it’s your job then to take it all into consideration, but also to know what to take in and what to discard. Typos or continuity errors, definitely listen to those. But changes to the entire structure of your story--which they WILL suggest from time to time--or deleting entire sections of a story--which, again, they WILL suggest from time to time--you have to know when to take that advice and when to politely decline. Only you can make that call, and it’s so easy to fall into the trap of taking their every word as gospel. Too many times in the early days did I get a story back from an editor, full of marks and whatnot, and just go through making all the changes they suggested without considering whether that change was right for the story or not. So be careful when working with editors. Totally DO work with them; they’re an important step in turning first draft muck into polished gold. But also remember who’s the boss and who has final say. That would be YOU. The WRITER.

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