I need help in improving my short story
July 13, 2013 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to find an expert in creative writing in the Boston area or online to help me improve my short story? Several knowledgeable readers pointed out specific flaws in it that I have no idea how to fix.

They said that the story needed to be trimmed, was "too disjointed for our tastes," and the " pacing felt off in a few spots with the infusion of some backstory that disrupted the narrative flow." At this point, I feel like unless I do some editing, future readers will likewise see the story as defective and not worthy of serious consideration.
posted by gregb1007 to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In general, I feel like when you get notes like that, the onus is on you, the writer, to correct them. I think it would be good to meet with another writer or someone who really gets this stuff to see what they think and bounce ideas around with them, but if the pacing isn't right, at the end of that brainstorming/workshopping session, you are the one who has to do the rewrites.

That said I think that if you are having trouble understanding the notes or figuring out what specific areas of the story were a problem and how to convert the notes into actionable rewriting goals, that might be a good reason to get an editor to talk it over with. Especially for things like "the story felt disjointed", which, what does that even mean?

I also think that your goals for the story are pretty important when taking all this into consideration. Who are these "knowledgeable readers"? What stake do they have? Are they agents? Anthology editors? Does it matter what they think? And what's your opinion of the story? Does it do what you set out to do? Do other people seem to be enjoying it? I don't think all rejection necessitates revisions in the work, and nor are all notes worth acting on.

I don't think there's any such thing as a "defective" story, as long as it's working at doing what you were trying to do. This stuff only really matters if you meant it to be published and it's been rejected everywhere, or you meant it to springboard your career and instead it's hurting your image.
posted by Sara C. at 3:06 PM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

I've heard great things about Grub Street, though I've got no firsthand experience. They offer both classes and one-on-one help.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:39 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Grub Street. I know a lot of writers who have been a part of it at one time or another, and they've all raved about it.
posted by xingcat at 4:26 PM on July 13, 2013

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