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Friday, 5 April 2013

Learning to Write Short Stories

Ticonderoga Publications has opened a reading period for a new themed anthology with the working title, ‘Kisses byClockwork’. The name gives a clue to the theme, steampunk with a bit of romance. I’ve only read a little steampunk, and enjoyed it, but had never considered writing any. As for romance, not my style, not reading, not writing, not in any way. However, when I read the line, There might be stories of airships, gaslight romance, retro-futurism, post-apocalyptic steam-powered cities, analytical engines or neo-Victorian ladies and gentlemen. the brain kicked into over drive and ‘Radar Love’ was conceived. I’m gunna write me a steampunk short story about, love, airships and Morse code.
Airship Battle by Spiked McGrath.

When I decided to take a serious tilt at writing about 18 months ago, short stories seemed, to me, to be the right place to start. With no idea, I blundered along, trying to learn as I go, and I have written three short stories (One has recently been published in an anthology and one got a prize in an international writing contest, blowing my own trumpet here.) with no idea how to properly plan and produce a short story.
Thanks to a lot of reading, the short story panel at the recent NSW Writers’ Centre Specfic Festival and some excellent blog posts by Zena Shapter, I now hope I’ve got some idea how to properly plan and produce a short story. So, here is my plan for Radar Love.

First: Finish the first draft by the 24th of April, the day before I go the Conflux 9.

Second: Take it to my writing group for their feedback, this will most likely be just after Conflux 9, and edit accordingly. As my gut is telling me that the story is going to be about 4000 words, the group will most likely read it over two weeks.

Third: Let it sit until the end of May, and then edit again.

Fourth: Send to some beta-readers. I have a couple of people who beta read for me, I need more. Edit accordingly.

Fifth: Let it sit for two more weeks and go through it again, reading it out loud and letting my wife give it the once over.

Sixth: Submit, hopefully, sometime in July. The cut-off date is 15 October, so I’ve got a buffer if more time/work is needed.

If all this goes to plan, if the story is about 4000 words and if it gets accepted for the anthology, I will be paid about $100 for all this work (they’re offering 2.5c a word). I guess one would have to ask, is it worth it?


I want to write, I need to learn, and even if the story is never published I’ll learn so much from this that it will be worth every minute spent.

I’m going to journal this, a post every two weeks or so, please come back and see how I’m going.


  1. oh wow, Rick, that's so fantastic!! Best of luck with your story. I love steampunk.

    1. Thanks Lynda, Maybe you should you should have a go?