- Are you enjoying your story? If not, why would anyone else?
- Do your characters grip you? I find writing about someone who doesn’t have a problem with hypocrisy, Eileen, an absolute joy.
- Can you talk about your stories/novels? Can you sum them up quickly? Are you enthusiastic about them?
- When you get rejected short stories, are you trying to rework them and send them on elsewhere or just trying them as they are for another market?
- Are you open to positive criticism? The great thing is no writer gets it right first go. Very little can’t be improved with some vigorous editing. Incidentally you will come across negative criticism. Rise above it. A lot of this stuff will come from those who are insecure or vindictive. Use criticism as a tool. Examine what is said. Is there any truth in it, something you can use to improve your work? If not, happily ignore!
- Are you proud of your story? If not, why not?
- Do you know who its audience will be? Do you really know your character? And remember your character has to be their own person - yes, you can use yourself as a starting point but you need to add on to that or your character will be restricted by how you feel, what you’ve experienced.
- It pays to read history, biographies and autobiographies. It’s a good way of “gaining” other experiences on which to build your character/story. Stories which have echoes in the past linger in the memory - or at least they do mine! You may find inspiration for stories - after all what, for example, did drive Isambard Kingdom Brunel in his wonderful engineering works? How did his family/employees cope with him? What were their lives like with Brunel as a huge catalyst around them? Dig deep. Emotions can kick-start stories - someone resents another person for being a “slave driver”. Where could that tale go?
I'm Allison Symes and write fairytales with bite, especially novels and short stories.