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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Romance Flash Publication and Author Commentary: The Sublet

This, too, is a modified excerpt from my as-yet-unpublished novel My Life with Michael: A Story of Sex and Beer for the Middle-Aged. They say that publishing excerpts from your novels is good strategy, and maybe it is. But don’t kid yourself into thinking it saves time because you’re recycling something you’ve already written. If anything, it takes longer than writing a story from scratch. First, you have to build a frame story around a segment that was intended to be a much longer work. Second, you have to make it self-contained, which means adding and getting rid of stuff that no longer fits in the revised version. And finally, you have to adjust the length to make it work for the market for which you’re shooting, and in the case of flash fiction, this can be daunting indeed.
I like the frame story I chose here, which is completely unrelated to the plot of my book. The idea that people are no longer forced to stay in a particular place for work and are thus free to move around as much as they like intrigued me. Perhaps I get that from my days as a professional eBay seller, when I routinely traveled several months of the year and worked on the road. In the modern world the scenario is perfectly plausible, and for people without roots or strings tying them down to one location, the thought of simply packing your suitcase and moving on whenever you felt like it might have some appeal. On the other hand, it would definitely interfere with your love life. Suddenly, instead of just hanging out to see what happens with your new relationship, you have to consciously decide – do you stay or move on when your time’s supposed to be up?
Fortunately, this particular section of my book didn’t require a tremendous effort in order to make it self-contained, which is one of the reasons I chose it. Except for at the beginning, there weren’t a lot of references to events that happened earlier, and those were fairly simple to excise. Trying to get the word count down to under 1000 was awful, though. I started out with 1700 and after I’d whittled it down as much as I thought I possibly could, I still had 1200 words. After I took out the final 200, I was afraid the story didn’t make sense as a story anymore, so I set it aside for a while so I could read it with fresh eyes. I guess it must have worked, though, because the good people at Romance Flash decided to publish it. I only hope the readers like it, too!

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