Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Just finished submitting a story to the 14th Chiaroscuro Short Story contest.

Chizine is considered a pro market by the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers Association) and pay 7 cents a word. At 4000 words, that would net me $280 for a win, place or show, and publication in an upcoming issue.

That would be the most I’ve made on a story. If I were to break this down into an hourly rate, it would probably come to less than a dollar an hour.

It’s a revenge story called “El Dorado.” The Crowbar Man, a fresh-out-of-prison drug dealer returns to the edge of the Everglades to retrieve something he left behind. He encounters the usual Florida obstacles — strangler fig trees, finger-seeking snapping turtles, etc. His presence also incites the reanimation of one of his victims. Seems that there’s a long-dead orthopedic surgeon that still takes appointments, and he’s reactivated this particular victim, using the bones and a few spare parts.

The idea for this story had been floating around in my diseased brain for quite a while, and the first draft came easy. However, the split narrative was difficult. I originally wrote the drug dealer using first person, but this didn’t work for the revenant/reanimator interplay. The first version of it that actually worked had the dealer in first person present tense, the rest in third-person past, with the final conflict in FPP.

This would be a tough sell to any editor, and I’ve found resistance to first person of any kind. I knew that the FPP had to go.

Another problem I had was that there was quite a bit of backstory. Too much backstory sucks the life out of the narrative. So I hacked and streamlined as much as I could and had a pretty decent story of about 4800 words.

Problem: the markets I wanted to submit this story have limits of 4000 words.

Trust me, it’s easier to increase the word count by 200% than to reduce it by 20%. I started by applying my 20% slash-and-burn per section, then per paragraph, and then per sentence. The final story came in at 3973.

It’s a better, tighter story now. Whether my comedic approach to horror disqualifies me remains to be seen.

God, I’m sick of that story. On to the next one. Something with tentacles and a swimming pool.

Don’t forget to checkout “The Lizard Pit” podcast on Well Told Tales. It’s freeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Okay, all you podpeoples. Don’t have time to read my longwinded prose? Now’s your chance to have it done for you.

My story, “The Lizard Pit,” is now available as podcast over at
Well Told Tales, a quality source of pulpy horror, sci-fi and hardboiled fiction for all your entertainment needs.

Please take a listen, download it and drop a comment.

The reader, Steve Anderson, did a great job with the story, which to my ears was completely unedited from the original.

It’s a gas hearing your words read by someone who can actually speak (as opposed to talk.)