Serving two masters

I’ve been working on a short-story (Skycraft) that I’ve been having a lot of fun with.  The writing process is following a similar arc to the Five Draft structure I outlined last week, and I’m currently in the middle of the third draft.  At this point, I’ve pretty much firmed up the events that take place and how the story goes.

I started this story for a contest in mid-October.  As with many of the stories I tried to write last year, I just couldn’t find a way to finish it in time.  It left me with about a dozen half-finished short stories…

I’ve gotten better at finishing them at this point, which is great.  So one of the things I’m doing is looking for other places to submit my stories, which brings me to today’s post.

Skycraft was originally designed as an airship story, so as I’m reading the contests, I see a few places looking for stuff in the Steampunk genre.  With a few tweaks, Skycraft qualifies.  I’m not sure if you noted the operative word at the beginning of this (and why this post is titled the way it is):

A few places

This sounds great to me.  I can write the story, and then submit it to several markets.  I check the submissions requirements to ensure they allow simultaneous submissions… And they do.  Great.   Then I get to the fine-print.

The requirements are slightly different…. Only slightly, but there are differences.  One has a target audience of youths, so I need to keep the language pretty PG.  One is 3500 words, the other is 6000.  One wants to focus on discovery and wonder, the other focuses on the steampunk nature, still another wants to focus on adventure.

I’ll be the first to say that I’m a firm believer that constraints can help make some really creative stuff (hence the reason I love writing prompts).  However, I’m trying to figure out how to serve two masters, each one demanding to be the boss of the story.

Anything with more than one head is a monster.

And that’s what my story became.  As I tried to tweak it so that it could fit into all the boxes, I started actually killing the story.  Colorful characters were cut.  Scenes dropped.  Boring narrative descriptions added (I know that many of you don’t find narrative description boring, but I do!).  I started looking for other things to work on rather than finish this ugly painful story.

So… I’ve decided to cut off all of the heads but one.  It may be limiting the number of markets I can submit to… But I sincerely hope that limiting who I am writing the story for, I will be better able to put forth my best work…

Quality over quantity

What do you think?  When you write stories, have you ever found yourself writing for more than one submission?  How do you deal with it?

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4 thoughts on “Serving two masters

  1. I hear you about the madness of trying to tweak the original story to fit different parameters. From experience, I think you just junk up your original premise. Remember…you can’t please everyone. Stick to your original story..eventually you will find the perfect markey.

    Liked by 1 person

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