The Evolution of a Short Story

Well over a month ago, I saw a call for submissions.  Yes, yes, I know, I have terrible luck with anthology calls.  I get so wrapped up in creating something different and unique that I twist it beyond my original vision to something that’s just not suitable for that particular call.

Not to say I haven’t ended up with cool stories as a result — they just weren’t appropriate for that particular antho.  (Survive My Fire was first written ages ago for a dragon anthology call and I’m still pretty darned happy with it even though it wasn’t accepted for the anthology.)

Anyway, I haven’t written a short story in a long time, and I found the challenge (snort, you know me and challenges) appealing.  Plus I’d just really really love to get a publishing credit at Cleis.  I’ve tried a couple of times in the past to no avail, but maybe, just maybe, I could write the right story this time.

So I started my story.  A Viking stood on the frozen shore and a boat arrived, bearing a seemingly dead lady inside.  He was dragging the boat ashore and I ended up putting the story away.  It wasn’t doing anything for me.  It didn’t hold my interest any longer, and I had too many things to do (we were moving).

I thought maybe I’d missed the deadline, but I checked last week and saw I still had some time.  I still really wanted to do a story for the call, so I opened up my original incomplete story.  Well of course I’d put it aside.  It was all wrong.  It wasn’t the Viking on the shore — but the lady — and the person in the boat was the mysterious Viking.

I swapped it around and lo and behold, there was the story I’d been trying to get.

Again, I’d forgotten the original point of the anthology call.  The story needs to focus on women’s forbidden desires.  No woman would fantasize about lying frozen in a boat until the Viking pulled her ashore.  But I could sure see a woman dragging her dream man ashore and claiming him as her very own.

Yet as I wrote paragraph after paragraph, I kept going back to the beginning and fine tuning it.  Little layers came to me as I went.  Things that weren’t hugely significant to the plot, but just made the story all the more special.  Hopefully.  I didn’t even have the title until the very last lines of the story.  Then I had to go back and add a few details so that it all made sense and tied together.

I’m pretty darned happy with it.  If Cleis doesn’t take it, I’ll offer it as a free read.  I haven’t had a new one in a long time!

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