Interview Transcripts

Mary Rosenblum:  K.C. Ball’s short fiction has appeared in online and print publications.  Coward’s Steel won third place in the First Quarter 2009 Writers of the Future competition.  She blogs about writing at A Moving Line http://kcball.wordpress.com/ and is editor of 10Flashhttp://10flash.wordpress.com/, the quarterly genre flash fiction magazine.
So, KC, welcome!  You're one of those folk moving us into a new world of publishing/reading with a new ezine.  Oh, I"m so looking forward to picking your brain on that subject!   But wait!  Let's start from the beginning here!   Wink  Just how did you get started?  As an aspiring writer?  Aspiring editor?  Refugee from Microsoft?  Give us the full scoop, girl!  

 

KC Ball:  I've been reading fiction since I learned the trick of it, Mary.
Grew up in a little farming community in Ohio and was introduced to books by a retired librarian named Emma Huber, who had convinced the county system into allowing her to maintain a small collection of books in two rooms of her home.
I read everything she offered me, but at nine I read Robert Heinlein's juvenile, Starman Jones, and fell in love with science fiction.  My tastes are still eclectic but I am drawn to genre stories -- science fiction, fantasy, horror and suspense.  Even the occasion western thrown in.  I have read Will Bryant's Blue Russell a dozen times or so.
Over the years, I was drawn to writing.
I was a newspaper reporter for three Ohio newspapers and a media relations coordinator for a couple of government agencies, and non-fiction writing has played a large part in every job I've ever held.
But fiction was something I only played with.  I cranked out a novel that no one wanted to publish, managed to get three short stories in print, joined a writers' group from time to time.
January 2008, I decided I was tired of telling people I wrote, when I really didn't.  I began to write every day, with a goal of at least 500 words every day. And then I sent my completed stories out to look for a home.
As a professional writer, you know that not every hour spent writing actually involves new words; there is research to do, rewriting and editing.  But my completed work for 2008 amassed more than 50,000 words.  So far this year, I've got almost 72,000 words invested in completed stories, with another 16,000 toward unfinished work.  My goal for year-end is 140,000 words.
My first sale last year was to Every Day Fiction, an online magazine that published a new piece of flash fiction every day.  It was started by three friends from Vancouver, British Columbia, Jordan Lapp, Camille Gooderham Campbell and Steven Smethurst.  They just began their third year of operation and have built a hefty reader base.
That first story was The Mixture and it was well received by the readers.  Since then, I've had six more stories published at Every Day Fictionand a total of 27 stories published in various online and print magazines.
Four more are forthcoming between now and August 2010, and I'm outlining an SF novel now titled Power in the Blood.  I hope to have first draft of that done by May or June next year.

 

Mary Rosenblum:  Oh, you're from my neck of the woods originally, KC. I grew up in western PA, right next door.  But you beat me on SF. I discovered Galaxy Magazine when I was 12.  :-)   So what's the SF novel about? 

 

KC Ball:  It's a small world.  Eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.  Now you live in Oregon and I'm in Washington.  We probably wouldn't even need six connections to find a mutual acquaintance.  Grin
The central thread of the novel is a hunt for a mythic monster.  It's set on a newly settled world called Daniel, involves a struggle to separate church and state, and presents the practice of church-sanctioned rational magic.  The working title, as I said, is Power in the Blood.  I'm hoping to have it done, at least in first draft, by the time I go to Los Angeles for the Writers of the Future workshop and awards ceremony next summer.
It's my first attempt at an SF novel and it's an interesting experience.
I've always written short, but my fiction has been growing over the past year.  I just finished Wayfarer, a 10,000-word short that I plan to submit to Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
In one of the other threads, we've chatted about how learning to write effective flash can help with work on longer pieces.  I've applied my experience in flash to Wayfarer and plan to use it for Power in the Blood, too.
I planned Wayfarer -- and wrote it -- in scenes of 500 to 1,000 words.  Flash length. It allows me to focus on a much smaller piece of text, for both writing and editing, with the reasonable expectation that if I succeed with each piece that they will fit together as a whole to tell my story.
The process worked well with Wayfarer; I'm really pleased with the story.  I'm hoping it will work just as well for Power in the Blood.   

 

Lizbeth:  Hi KC - thanks for stopping by.  I have a story I would like to submit for your January 2010 issue - are you still accepting for January?

 

Dale:  Hi KC, Thanks for being here this week. I appreciate your comments.

 

KC Ball:  Thank you, Dale.  I'm having fun.  J   Yes, Lizbeth.  I'm still accepting stories for January.  Don't wait too long, though.  I've already bought three of the issue's ten stories.

 

Lizbeth:  What is your time frame for getting back to authors? Thank you!

 

Oceanscribe:  (Quote from KC Ball)  I planned Wayfarer -- and wrote it -- in scenes of 500 to 1,000 words.  Flash length. It allows me to focus on a much smaller piece of text, for both writing and editing, with the reasonable expectation that if I succeed with each piece that they will fit together as a whole to tell my story. KC, That is a wonderful idea--writing in short scenes to build a larger work. I have been struggling to write longer fiction works (my background is poetry) and just can't seem to commit to anything longer than 1500 words, especially since I edit as I write. Definitely, I will try this technique.

 

KC Ball:  Lizbeth: I work to get back to each submission within thirty days.  So far, I've been averaging a bit under three weeks.
Oceanscribe:
Thank you.  It works well for me.  The idea of completing a novel, 60,000 words or more, is daunting.  Like any other task, it just makes sense to break it up into more manageable pieces.
BTW: does your screen name indicate that you live near the water?  I'm close to Puget Sound and, as an early-hours writer, I love to hear the deep-throated hoots from the Fauntleroy Ferry early in the morning.

 

Oceanscribe:  Yes; I divide my time between two oceanside cities: Salem, MA and Eastport, ME, which is the easternmost city in the U.S. No ferry calls either place, but during hazy weather in Eastport, the foghorn laments every 45 seconds to guide the fishing boats.

 

KC Ball:  There is something about living near water that soothes me, Oceanscribe.  I think I write better near water, too.  A silly conceit, I suppose, but nevertheless.  Grin
That brings us to a subject of considerable discussion and debate.  The ideal conditions under which to write.  Everybody has their favorite time, place and method to produce masterpieces.
I was a newspaper reporter for a number of years, so I learned to write while ignoring the confusion around me.  As a result, I like a bit of clutter and noise while I write.  And I have come to prefer writing during the wee hours because my household has been on a midnight work schedule for so many years.
How about the rest of you?  What are your preferences?  Computer or pencil and paper?  Absolute silence or while listening to Puccini?  In some secluded nook or at the neighborhood bistro?

 

Pam Out West:  Thanks for sharing your thoughts!  I love the water...but seldom get to be near it.   The only place I have discovered I can't write is at a hospital. If I am sitting shifts with a family member...worry is just too distracting I've found.

 

KC Ball:  I can't write in a hospital, either, Pam.  And I've talked to other writers who are productive while traveling -- on an airplane or waiting at an airport -- but I've never been able to get much work done under those circumstances, either.  You would think that getting used to writing in a newsroom would make a airport peaches and cream for me, but it just doesn't click.

 

Mary Rosenblum:  So, KC, publishing is moving to the internet and ezines are springing up like the proverbial mushroom.  (mmmm...I love mushrooms).  So tell us about starting an ezine.  Why did you do it?  What are your goals?  And of course....what are the nitty gritty details?  As in...how much time does it take from your own writing?  

 

KC Ball:  I agree that electronic publications are becoming a big part of magazine production.  I don't believe that the financial issues facing print media are all that is involved, but they certainly have played a big part in the growth of e-zines.
I hope that print magazines don't all go the way of the dinosaur, but I wouldn't miss them as much as I would miss books.  I think the Kindle and its various cousins are great, I have a Kindle and it's wonderful for traveling.  But for me there is something special about the feel of a book, the smell of ink and paper and the comfort of seeing filled bookcases.
I began 10Flash for two reasons.  Both involve the fact that writers work at the whim of editors.
I have a master's degree in communications and there is a part of me that wants to put words and images together in a way that is uniquely my own.  So my first reason for 10Flash was as a creative outlet over which I had control.
And as a relatively new professional writer, I understand how frustrating it can be working to get your words in print.  With 10Flash, I'm trying to provide a place for new writers to have their work seen. through an editor that provides personal critiques for all stories, and for progressing writers to hone their work.  And to have the satisfaction of getting paid for it, albeit a small payment.
That's the second reason.
As to the details, 10Flash is a quarterly publication that features ten pieces of genre flash fiction each issue.  The stories are all written around a common thread, the January 2010 thread is an encounter at dusk on a lonely road, but can be any of four genres -- science fiction, fantasy, horror or suspense.  I pay $20 per story, upon publication.
The first issue went live July 1.  The first day, I had 1,000 visitors and since then another 3,500 folks have stopped by to read.  I haven't done any advertising, other than word-of-mouth from sites such as Long Ridge Writers Group, and I am very pleased with those numbers.
I'm pleased with the stories I've received, too.
The inaugural issue had a wonderful blend of the genres and marvelous tales and I'm just as pleased with the stories for the second issue, which will be available to readers October 1.  I'm am particularly excited about The Professional Job, a crime caper romp from British writer Oonah V. Joslin, and Tin-Star Town, a ghost story with a twist from Gay Degani. 
Timewise, I've been putting in five to ten hours a week, working with writers and getting the next issue set up.  It is time away from writing, but I think it's worth it.  It helps me to get back to my own writing, energized and ready work. 

Mary Rosenblum:  That's so cool, KC. I see this as the core of the positive sea change that's coming to publishing. It's no longer just the territory of huge corporations, it's now something that is accessible.  So we can have visionary editors who provide a platform for writers who get overlooked by the bottom line driven New York publishing monolith.   Sounds as if you're getting some very good interest, both from readers and from writers! 

 

KC Ball:  Indeed.
A whole new paradigm is forming for both magazine and book publishing, and access to relatively inexpensive, powerful computers and the internet is at its heart.
It's no longer necessary to have a ton of money to do either and people are taking advantage of that freedom.  Like any new business model, there's going to be a shakedown period with people figuring out how to take advantage of the opportunity.  But I think there will be a lot more folks surviving into the growth and maturity phase, because of lower funding requirements.
I'm paying costs of operating 10Flash out of pocket right now, but as the magazine grows I hope to be able to increase payment to writers.  That's going to involve more than I can afford to pull from my pocket, so some sort of fund-raising will have to evolve.  
I don't know yet whether that will be advertising.  I have some other ideas but they're not fully realized yet, so I won't go into detail.
But it's an exciting time.

 

Mary Rosenblum:  And that's the rub, isn't it?  How do we make money from the internet...which users want to use for free? This affects us writers, too, as publishing goes online.  Someone has to pay somewhere, eh? 

 

KC Ball:  Right now, I'm looking upon it as a redistribution of wealth.  
So far this year, I've seen enough income from writing fiction to cover the costs of publishing b]10Flash[/b], with enough left over for dinner and movies for two once in awhile.

 

Mary Rosenblum:  So , KC, realistically -- because we all want you to continue with this, and we want lots of other ezines to continue -- where do you see a revenue stream for ezines?  Advertising?   That's about all I can come up with . Anything else?   Nobody wants to pay for stuff on the internet, alas.  I don't know how the 'drop something in the tip jar' sites have fared. 

 

KC Ball:  I don't have any brilliant notions, either.  I'm not a big fan of advertising, but to pay authors more than a token payment, some source of income is required.
Some folks are trying subscriptions.
Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, for example, offers it's quarterly issues for $2.50.  It pays six cents per word for its speculative fiction stories, considered by the Science Fiction Writers of America to be a professional rate.  
Bruce Holland Rogers (http://www.shortshortshort.com/index.htm), who writes a lot of flash fiction, sells his own stories via e-mail, sends out a dozen every four months for an annual subscription of ten dollars.
Other sites use fee-based contests to fund operations.
Glimmer Train runs quarterly contests in three categories and twice-yearly contests in two others.  The reading fee to enter the contests range from $10 to $20, but prizes are substantial -- $2,000 and publication for their new writer contest -- and they accept flash fiction.  As I understand it, monies that remain after the prizes are distributed are used to fund the magazine.  They pay $700 for an accepted standard submission and there is no reading fee involved.
Most on-line magazines solicit contributions to assist in operation.
And of course, there is the question of how to protect copyright when a story appears on something as wide open as the Internet, but that's an entirely different issue.

 

Mary Rosenblum:  Well, good luck, KC, with innovative income sources. Our future as writers is on the internet, I believe, and we're going to have to come up with some way to pay the electricity bill! 

On a different topic,  KC, all editors are Mysterious People to novice writers.  You sit at Big Desks and stamp that REJECTED on those heart's blood manuscripts, right?    I'm teasing, but we all know that as a novice writer, that's our general perception. So in the real world, what ARE you looking for in a submission?  What says 'good' to you?  What is a huge taboo?  What says REJECT ME to you?  

 

KC Ball:  I believe the kid inside us never really fades away.
We may gain experience, may develop maturity as to how we deal with the world, but inside the kid that we were is always waiting. Ready to be wowed.
That's the first thing that I look for in a story, for my inner kid to start jumping up and down, shouting, "This is SO cool!"  The second thing is a complete story.  You know, an identifiable beginning at grabs attention, a middle that flows without interruption and a satisfying conclusion.  I want to see a full story arc, rising tension and an active protagonist working to solve her dilemma.
All editors love to see clear and lucid writing, good grammar and attention to detail.  Those are marks of a professional writer.
But I'm willing to look past flaws, prepared to open a dialog with a writer to pull the story into line, if my inner kid whispers "WOW! in my ear.
What's going to get an immediate "No" from me?
Explicit sex, any sort of pornography, excessive violence.  And I hate cliché.
The time traveler who kills his own grandfather.  The hooker with the heart of gold.  The hard-boiled detective who is hard as titanium.  No, wait.  He would have to be hard as nails to be a cliché.  
If a writer doesn't recognize cliché, then they haven't read enough genre.  That's an enormous part of doing homework before sitting at the keyboard -- reading what has already been written. 

 

Mary Rosenblum:  Cool, KC.  And you give personal critques, right?  Do you tell people why you're saying 'no thanks'?  That's a gift right there, even though it smarts at the time!    I hope you don't get overwhelmed. I know a number of editors who started out replying to all submissions and eventually went to forms. 

 

KC Ball:  I give personal critiques to every story submitted to 10Flash.
As a small publication, it's one of the unique features I can offer to writers.  I know how much time it takes to do it and I understand why some editors feel forced to go to form rejections.  But as a writer, I also know how frustrating it is to receive one and I hope never to have to do it.
I said in one of the other threads that one of the reasons I started 10Flash was personal fulfillment.  A big part of that fulfillment is establishing a dialog with authors.  If the older SF writers are to be believed, John Campbell did that at Analog right up to the end.  I'm not certain I'll want to continue the operation if it doesn't energize me; if it stops being fun.

 

Dale:  I find writing flash both fascinating and challenging. I like your delineation of what you like in a flash piece above and find that is the one which most appeals to me as a reader, as well as a writer. It sounds like in general you are simply looking for a great story at flash length  
Some approach flash as more a means of capturing an emotional dilemma or the mindset of particular character, but those both strike me as vignettes rather than a true story. Do you have any advice on how to render a complete story in 1000 words or less? 
Are you familiar with Roberta Allen's book on writing flash, Fast Fiction? I did some exercises from it last winter. She talks about the different forms that flash fiction can take: single incident; stories that compress time, stories that reveal a mind, and stories that defy ordinary reality. At the time I saw these as separate from the conflict-crisis-climax-resolution progression but I see now (duh) that her groupings are for different ways to structure conflict-resolution. Do you have any thoughts on structuring flash?

 

KC Ball:  Dale: As to structuring flash fiction, let me share some excerpts from a column I wrote last May for Flash Fiction Chronicles(http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/).
I first was paid to write in June 1967, when I was hired to work as a reporter by Jim Davis, city editor of The Daily Reporter, a six-day-a-week newspaper in Dover, Ohio.
I was twenty years old, with two years of college behind me and without any experience. Why Jim offered me the job remains a mystery to me to this day.
Maybe it was because he figured I would work cheap. Maybe it was out of pity. Or perhaps he had been given a first chance, too, by someone else years before. I like the last suggestion. My grandfather always taught patience. He used to say that it was everybody’s first day some day.
In the months that followed June 1967, it became an even bigger mystery to me why Jim didn’t fire me; he never seemed satisfied with what I wrote. But I took his criticisms to heart. It drove me crazy, trying to make the man happy; it also taught me to write tight, fast and clean.
One of the lessons Jim passed on to me was the five questions a reporter had to ask to write a complete story. Who, what, where, when and how.
“When you get good at the basics,” Jim said. “You can start asking why.”
Someone may be saying about now, “Aw, that’s journalism.”
No; that’s story-telling. And it works just as well with fiction as it does non-fiction.
Think about it.
Who, what, where, when and how. Colonel Mustard did it (killed Mr. Bode) in the Library (last night) with the candlestick. That’s a complete story. Maybe not a very complex or interesting tale, but a story, nonetheless.
Let me suggest an even tighter story. Joe died today at home of cancer. A complete story in only seven words. But, you may ask, where’s the story arc? Where’s the character development? Where’s the conflict? Where is the situational resolution?
Most of it is implied. It’s only seven words, afterall. From there, you use modifiers to expand it. Adjectives and adverbs and subordinate clauses and carefully crafted turns of language.

To develop depth, let’s think of that simple, seven-word statement as the seed story from which a complex and emotionally satisfying tale can grow. And the tool that you must use to cultivate depth is that word Jim Davis told me I could use when I got “good at the basics”.
Why.
I believe that asking “Why?” is the single most important question a writer can employ. Why did Joe contract cancer? Why did he live alone in a small apartment? Why was his death so protracted? The answers are what keep a reader reading because they produce emotional resonance.
And once you begin asking that little question, you will have to decide when to turn off the flow of information that follows, because with each answer, more “Whys?” occur – and your story grows deeper and deeper, more emotionally complex and all of those issues that I mentioned earlier – story arc and character development and conflict – become more and more clear.
The result is a story that encourages the reader (and the writer, I suggest) to laugh and cry and grow angry or hopeful, for that is what all readers want – to be moved, to be transported outside themselves for a time and allowed to look into the mind and the heart of another.

BTW: You might want to check out Flash Fiction Chronicles.  It's edited by Gay Degani, who writes wicked-good flash herself, and the site's contributors are folks who are making a splash with their flash.

 

Mary Rosenblum:  Oh, I am SO with you on the 'why', KC!   The obvious, external plot....get away from the saber  tooth tiger without becoming dinner....is pretty thin.  The 'why was he there?' can give the story the depth it needs.  Why is so important!!!  

 

Lizbeth:  On the other hand, I have read numerous flash fiction that has  no where, why, who...etc. Especially in Flashquake and Flash Me.

 

KC Ball:  I've read those, too.  IMO, that's not flash.  It may be pretty writing, it may be less than a thousand words, but it's not flash fiction.

 

Mary Rosenblum:  What do you think, KC?  Can writing flash fiction help someone whose real goal is the novel?  How can that little bitty 1000 word story make that 100,000 word novel better?  

 

KC Ball:  Best-selling author James Michener is supposed to have said that he couldn't manage hello in less than six pages.
I believe that writing flash teaches discipline.  If you're going to complete a story arc, present a three-dimensional character faced with rising conflict and bring it all to a satisfying conclusion inside 1,000 words, you have to write tight.
Eliminate adverbs by finding a stronger verb. Pare adjectives to a minimum, so that when you do use them, they are that much more effective.  Examine each word.  Is it pulling its own weight?  Can you find one or two words to replace a longer string?
Most of all, writing flash makes you think about what you're putting onto paper (or screen).
All those years ago, at Ohio University, a professor told my class in American literature about something he called Herman Melville Syndrome.  You've seen it in books other than Moby Dick.  Too often, writers includes every bit of research, every word she has written, because she can't stand to part with it.
There's a balance, of course, but less is always better.
Elmore Leonard says he tries to leave out the parts of his stories that readers would just skip over, anyway.  Bloated stories are boring; writing flash teaches you how write lean. 

 

Mary Rosenblum:  Oh, I am SO with you, KC!  You know, all my novels have had very  nice treatment at the hands of reviewers and one of the consistent bits of praise they've received has been a nod for 'tight writing'. I credit my short fiction roots for that.  When you can write short, you can write long well, without sloppiness and extra verbiage.  And when you do that, the story shines through undimmed by those extra words.  
I think flash fiction does that to an even greater degree.  You know, I think of flash as one step removed from poetry,  I don't mean anything about rhyme or meter, but rather that very high degree of word selection. So that one word does several things. 
What do you think? 

 

KC Ball:  I've heard others make the connection between poetry and flash fiction.  As someone who writes both, i very much agree.
Free verse seems to be the vogue now, but I prefer the older, patterned styles that adhere to meter and rhyme.  And I love narrative poetry.  My favorites from the turn of the twentieth century include Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer, The Lion and Albert by Marriott Edgar and The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God by J. Milton Hayes.
If you've never read that last one, go looking for it.  It begins:
There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

It's story sings to me; I'm in tears by the end every time I read it.
Here's the first stanza from Murphy's Flaw, one of mine:
Obadiah Murphy set them up and tossed them back,
Double shots of Smirnoff, Tanqueray and Johnny Walker Black.
Which he would chase with buckets filled with beer, quite tart and pale,
and uncounted long stemmed glasses full of wine and ginger ale.

Effective poetry and flash fiction both make efficient use of every word to establish character, create image and set mood, all within the narrative arc of engaging opening, well-paced middle and satisfying conclusion.
There's an old saying that the secret of selling real estate is location, location and location.  The secret to good narrative poetry and flash fiction is focus, focus and focus.  
BTW, I'm a big fan of your short stories.   The Egg Man is a particular favorite of mine and it's a model for how tight, clear narrative can also carry an emotional wallop.

 

Mary Rosenblum: Oh, you're sweet, KC!   Thank you so much for the praise!    So here's a question for you...how does someone whose plots are really large pare  it down to flash fiction size without sacrificing power?  

 

KC Ball:  I don't know if that's always possible, Mary.  Some ideas are too big to be contained in anything less than a novel, maybe a number of novels.  Imagine Tolkien trying to squeeze The Lord of the Rings into 1,000 words.
I believe that flash fiction is perfect for consideration of smaller ideas.  There is just as much drama in a homeowner's ill-prepared attack of a hornet's nest as there is in the clash of good vs. evil in the Rings trilogy.

 

Mary Rosenblum: I agree, although I think you could mine at least 100 flash fiction pieces from Lord of the Rings, if not 1000.  Isn't it all a matter of focus?  Looking at the dandelion and the life and death struggle of the wasp and the ant going on on the petals, rather than looking at the 1000 acre meadow? 

 

KC Ball:  Absolutely.
I am always bewildered by folks who say they don't know what to write about.  I carry a pad and pen with me wherever I go to jot down ideas for plots and story titles.  And I find them in every thing around me.  Business signs.  Newspaper stories.  Someone sitting on the bus.
Of course, once you get the initial spark from something, you've got to start developing the idea.  In one of the other threads, I talked about asking questions during such development.  I think "Why?" is a big one, but "What if...?" is equally important, particularly for speculative fiction stories.
As an example, Coward's Steel, my story that won third place in the Writers of the Future competition, came to be because of a business sign.  I was driving across town one day, glanced at a company sign and was certain, for just that first split second, that it read, "Coward's Steel".  It didn't, of course.  It was a sign for Edward's Steel Company.
But that first thought gnawed at me.  At the next red light, I jotted it down and then began to ask myself questions about it.  Five months later, those two words had morphed into a 5,300-word post-apocalyptic SF tragedy about lost love.
And one of my pieces of flash at Boston Literary Magazine, Where It Lies, came to be after I read a story about a guy in northern California who had just had a third hole-in-one at the same golf course.  The question I asked with that one was, "What if everyone out on a particular golf course came in reporting a hole-in-one?"
I've had people ask about story length. Why did I write Where It Lies as flash and Coward's Steel as a longer short?  The honest answer is, "I don't know."
I can describe the elements of flash fiction, tell you what makes good flash fiction, but I don't sit down to deliberately write flash.  I've heard writers say that a story is as long as it needs to be.  I don't know.  Any thoughts on that?

 

Cbert: I have enjoyed reading your post-a-notes all week.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!  You asked for thoughts on "A story is as long as it needs to be."  I have to disagree with that statement.  I think sometimes there is way too much included in a story or novel that really doesn't need to be there.  In the last few years I have stopped reading novels of one of my favorite authors because of that fact.  Although I still like the storyline of the novel, in my opinion he has become too wordy and repetitive.  It's almost like he "talks just for the sake of talking," if you know what I mean.  He is still very popular though and I have a feeling I am the only one who feels like this.  But I won't read his novels anymore.  I do have to mention I have a book of his with a collection of short stories that are absolutely wonderful and it is one of my favorite books in the whole world.  So it's not his talent in question, it's just that the story is a lot longer than it needs to be.  In my opinion.  

 

KC Ball:  I was being flippant, Cbert.  I should know better.  Trying to write funny always gets me in trouble.  
I was speaking to the nature of a story -- not how verbose a writer may be.  In fact, your statement that a particular author's writing now bores you is probably a clear sign that he is writing "beyond" the limits the story comfortable dictates.
The point I was trying to make is that some stories lend themselves to novels, some to short stories and some to flash fiction.  The writer with an eye to readily see the difference is ahead of the game.
Elmore Leonard joked that when he wrote he tried to leave out "the parts that a reader would skip over".  It's good advice.

 

Mary Rosenblum:  You know, cbert, I think you and KC are on the same page. Clearly the author you're referring to (and I can make a guess who it is, but more than one could compete for that description) clearly wrote longer than the story needed to be. 

 

KC Ball:  Same page, same paragraph.
Verbosity is a common author's weakness.  Even the best fall in love with their own words. or the tons of research they have done on a particular subject, and then can't stand not to set it out for all to read.

 

Mary Rosenblum:  KC, thank you so much for coming, and for sharing your valuable time with us!  Keep up the good work, and keep us posted on what’s new at 10Flash! 

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LongRidge Writers Group
91 Long Ridge Road, West Redding, Connecticut 06896
Telephone: 1-800-624-1476 ~ Fax: 203-792-8406
Email:
InformationService@LongRidgeWritersGroup.com

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