Thursday, November 17, 2011

Short Story Readers and Writers


First a question for those who have read a lot of EQMM or AHMM. I have read issues from time to time but not often enough to know the answer to this. Do they ever publish stories with an element of fantasy in them? Where the mystery is solved but perhaps through a bit of kismet.


What would you say is the number one reason, you get stalled with a story. Because right now I have about a half dozen sitting idle.

#1. It's somewhat based on a true story and that is actually handicapping me.

#2. I can't get the right voice or the proper person to tell it.

#3 I am trying to rework an old story and it's fine the way it is. Not meant to be a crime story.

#4 BORING!

#5 No good ending in sight.

#6 This seems all too familiar. Did I already write it or did someone else?

And I am sure there are more. What stalls you most often?

21 comments:

Joe Barone said...

Self-doubt. There may be some supremely confident writers, but I suspect there are many writers like me who don't finish stories because of self-doubt.

Also, I found your #6 idea compelling. It is one I often think about as I am writing. Originality is hard.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I get stalled over a story or news story for a variety of reasons — ennui, burnout, frustration, writer's block, procrastination, grammatical correctness, lack of ideas or imagination, and an overwhelming sense that what I've written so far is just not good enough; self-doubt, as Joe calls it.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - When I'm writing, what stalls me more than anything is when I'm caught in a plot or character tangle. Something about the plot or a character just isn't working and I can't figure out why.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are occasionally fantasy-type stories in EQMM and AHMM.

Sometimes a story just ends and there is no solution. I guess they leave it to the reader to decide what happens next.

Jeff M.

Al Tucher said...

No. 5 happened to me just recently. My original ending was too obvious for either the characters or the readers to fail to foresee it, and I couldn't think of anything better. So I started writing open-ended dialog between two characters, and eventually one of them said something that gave me a hint. It was quite a relief.

Chris Rhatigan said...

I, too, have seen stories with elements of fantasy in those two magazines from time to time.

For me, #2 and #5 usually stop me. It's really frustrating. There are times where it seems I'll start several stories in a row and never finish any of them. Or if I do get through a first draft it's awful.

pattinase (abbott) said...

What I hate the most is when a story seems good, you're writing it at the speed of light, you take a day away from it and suddenly, holes pop up. Everywhere.

Dave Zeltserman said...

AHMM has published 2 stories of mine with fantasy elements (Closing Time, Dave Stevens I Presume--both in my 21 Tales collection), and EQMM has published 1 (A Hostage Situation), and of course my Julius Katz have what can be considered a fantastic element (EQMM has published 2, and will be publishing at least 2 more).

So far I have never stalled out on a story or novel, but that's probably because I have them plotted out and have built up a certain level of excitement to write them before ever starting.

pattinase (abbott) said...

If I plot too much, I lose the excitement; if I don't plot at all I hit walls.
Thanks for the info.

Charles Gramlich said...

Endings almost always stall me. Beginnings are easy, and the most fun. The trouble with endings is, sometimes that I can't find a decent one, but most often that I can't find one that somehow is new, that I haven't done before, or that twists things around a bit. Those seem only to come with time and thought.

Dave Zeltserman said...

For me, the excitement is bringing the vision in my mind to life. Of course, no matter how detailed I have it plotted, I always end up taking detours, and other changes happen, as the work becomes more a living + breathing creation. I know a lot of writers take that more random journey approach, and I've never been able to understand that. Writing is a craft. If I was designing a software system (which can be every bit as creative or more so than writing), the only way I wouldn't end up with something half-baked is if I put in the work ahead of time, and if you want a tightly plotted book, I'd have to think the same has to be done. Probably no accident that most writers I like I find out later write detailed outlines.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think novels need an outline more than a story probably.
Endings--oh, if you could just tail off. I like tailing off.

Richard R. said...

This may not help any, but my thought is this: you're not telling a story, you're trying to write something. BIG difference.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Not sure what you mean, Rick.

Dorte H said...

I have not written that many short stories, but when I get stuck in a novel, it is mainly boredom.

I always plan a novel fairly thoroughly, and I don´t begin writing until I am satisfied with my own ending. So what may go wrong is the middle - when I have lost the initial enthusiasm and feel I am writing flat and stale shit, if you´ll excuse my French.

Todd Mason said...

In my experience, Dave's experience is also about the right proportion...AHMM publishes about twice as much (usually mildly/borderline) fantasticated material as EQMM. But both might object to kismet, depending how applied (unless of course you are Jeffery Deaver, when your aggressively improbable story resolution and ridiculous characters will be hailed as genius).

Todd Mason said...

What stalls me most often is weariness or the need to do something else.

pattinase (abbott) said...

As the story winds toward an end, it's not kismet, more like a repressed memory so I may be okay.

Richard R. said...

What I mean is, did you sit down to tell a story, which you're writing down, or did you sit down to write something, which hopefully will be a good story. I guess I'm thinking if the storytelling is the goal and the writing is just the means of sharing it, since we can't all just gather around the campfire and listen to you tell it, it will be easier.

Obviously, I'm no writer.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hopefully the first, but sometimes the second. Although what I enjoy most is polishing the writing. So it's the prose more than the story sometimes.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

For me, it's all about the ending, so if I don't know the ending before I start the story, I'm likely to stall. I like doing the polish too--all the really hard work is done and it's fun.