Creating Anthologies

What is an anthology?

Rather than write a brief history of the word and its meaning, it is to all intents and purposes a ‘collection of artistic works’ which have a common theme, style, or other general pattern. Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2

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Anyone who knows me and this blog, will be aware that in early April 2015, I wrote a post specifically about anthologies, theme and genre. I’ll provide a link to that article at the end of this post. I will also create a dedicated section on my main blog menu for anthology-related articles.

 

On this occasion I’d like to introduce my latest idea, which has been underway since earlier this year.

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What is this new plan?

I’m basing my idea on the theory that the best stories are written by creating a first draft, leaving it aside, bringing it out again at a later date to edit, leaving it aside again, and so on. Using that system, it might take me around two months to produce that one short story.

Now, when that one has been filed away for the first time, I can look at another story. I write the first draft and file it away. Perhaps it has taken me a few days in both cases, to get those first stories written before filing my efforts.

Let’s say that it’s now about ten days since I wrote my first short story, and both the first and second tales are ‘resting’. I could now start my third idea for a short story.

Using this method, by the time I find myself filing my fifth or sixth story, I could feasibly pull out my first one again, and take a look at it. When I’ve read it, and edited it again – I would then file it as ‘second draft’. I then take each first draft in sequence and take it to the next level. During the process I might find the inspiration to add to the collection.

Once the collection is underway it’s important to annotate each title with ‘first draft’, ‘second draft’, and so on to retain control over the work in progress. There is no need to worry about the resting period for stories, because I’ve found that the longer they are left alone, the fresher they look on the next read-through.

In theory, each story will have a minimum of three weeks between drafts, but in most cases longer, which is a good thing.

Slow and steady is the way to work.

Not What You Thought*

Will it take a long time to produce the finished collection?

Yes, of course it will, but anybody who aspires to be worthy of the title ‘writer’ or ‘author’ must have the patience to continually chip away and polish work until it is honed to the best it can be.

 

If it takes months – it takes months.

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How will I keep my ideas fresh during the process?

This is where the second part of my plan comes into play.

For some time, I’ve been working on my next two anthologies – simultaneously. I have one collection featuring military themed short stories, and another collection featuring science-fiction themed short stories.

No, I may not be a recognised sci-fi writer, but I’ve written a couple in the past, and I feel I can produce sufficient variety in the genre.

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Is there any other way I can maintain a fresh outlook on the construction of my two anthologies?

Yes, I’m also working on two novels simultaneously. For some people it may break the rules, or test their resolve to work on more than one project, but I find it works for me.Image (23)

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How do I write two stories at once?

Simply by using the same method I outlined earlier in this article. I took several weeks to get my next thriller up to first draft, and then when that manuscript was put aside, I started work on my first attempt at an erotic novel.

When the erotic novel manuscript was filed away, I pulled out the thriller again, and gave it another rewrite. Both novels are now at fourth draft and resting whilst I read and review for a while.
Yes, I will no doubt write a short story during that time too.

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Are there any tips here?

Yes. If you’re in the early stages of whatever type of writing, be it short stories or novel – you must learn to take time away from the manuscript.

I know from personal experience, that for a novice in particular the work in progress (WIP), is an all-consuming aspect of life. It soaks up time that realistically should be spent away from it. We must learn to allow our WIP to rest, or ‘breathe’ occasionally. It does help.

My two favoured methods are, to read, or to start writing something else. It helps to let your other work rest properly without interference. It also stops your primary WIP becoming a ‘task’. It should be a labour of love, not simply a labour.

Until my most recent work I’ve only ever used one person as a beta reader, but I would suggest at least three other pairs of eyes to have a look at work before hitting that publish key. As I’ve said before, I don’t have any relatives or ‘friends’ to read my work, so it pleases me that any feedback I receive will be genuine.

The people reading your work to give feedback prior to publishing, don’t have to be writers, but I believe in my limited experience of such things, that it helps if they are. They have a keen eye for issues. A non-writer is more likely to simply enjoy the story.

If you have short stories of a reasonable standard, whether or not, you do, or do not have an anthology of your own, it’s a good idea to increase your platform with a guest appearance in somebody else’s collection, or in a compilation by various authors.

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When will I be publishing my next work?Image (25)

I’m hoping to have my debut erotic novel, Give and Take, published in August / September 2015.
A target date for my thriller, Acts of Vengeance, is now around October / November 2015.

My two anthologies are building steadily so there will be no rush to complete them and publish them. They will appear when the time is right.

Do I have any short stories apart from those appearing in my own anthologies?

Yes, I have short stories appearing in my blog menu under the heading Short Stories. I also have short stories making an appearance in mixed author anthologies like:

Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration by English Heritage (various authors),

Christophe’s Farewell and other stories by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)

Out of the Shadows by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)

The Last Waltz (an audio anthology) by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)

Not What You Thought and other surprises by Paul A. Ruddock (includes guest authors)

You’re Not Alone: An Indie Author Anthology by Ian D. Moore and friends (various authors)

Book cover - You're Not Alone*

Thank you as always for taking the time to read my thoughts, theories and opinions.
Comments and feedback are always welcome.

If you’ve enjoyed this topic, you may find my earlier post on anthologies interesting:
Anthologies: theme or genre based?

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10 comments on “Creating Anthologies

  1. I have the greatest respect for people who can write short stories. As you know, they’re my Achille’s heel. I just can’t control the word count. I babble way too much… It’s sad. Unlike yourself 😉

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  2. Hi Ramona. Thank you for dropping by. You’d be surprised if you saw the length of some of my short stories in the first draft. The important thing for me is to get the story and the ingredients dealt with – and then I get rid of a lot of excess. That’s where the true writer must come to the fore … with a machete! 😀

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  3. I’m with you all the way on leaving space between drafts. I left my most recently published novel for ten months, after several redrafts. Coming back to it after that length of time led to a complete restructure.

    My current project is the reworking of a manuscript I completed six or seven years ago. I knew it had potential but equally knew it wasn’t ‘right’ in its current form. Once I have ‘finished’ it – in the autumn I suspect – I will go back to a novel I began in August last year. I have copious notes and several thousand words written, some or none of which may survive once I get down to the next phase of development. And waiting in the wings, I have the outline for another novel.

    I’m not a prolific writer, but I think our approaches are similar and I absolutely agree with you that drafts need to be rested – the longer the better – before being released.

    Good luck with it all – I admire your energy and dedication.

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  4. Hi Julia and thank you for dropping by with such an enlightening comment. I have to admit, I do wonder when somebody is producing three or more books in a year …
    I love that you left yours for ten months. You may not be prolific, but you’re thorough, and that lends itself to quality.
    As we used to say in my morse code days … speed and accuracy are both important, but accuracy before speed.
    I’ve got a few stories left to read in our recent anthology, ‘Your’e Not Alone’, and then ‘Selkie’ is up next. I have about 38 titles on my TBR. 😀

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  5. I seems as if my writing habits follow yours…I also let my drafts rest while I work on other projects, and all go through numerous revisions. The only exception is when I craft flash fiction; those shorts only have three to five rewrites.
    Ramona above commented on how she couldn’t control word count–I took a course on writing short stories and it taught me to pare to the bone, make each word count. I was a “babbler” before learning how to control it. lol
    I’ve had some of my short fiction published in magazines, and most enforce a strict word count. How I hated casting aside pieces of myself to conform, but I did, and the story was the better for it.
    And yes, beta readers help, but I think the reader needs to enjoy the genre one writes to give relevant feedback. My second pair of eyes is my sister, a prolific reader, and a talented writer of nonfiction. She loves me, but pulls no punches–which is to my benefit.
    And speaking of genres, I’m looking forward to reading your science fiction themed anthology. About a third of my reading-for-pleasure falls into that category.
    The best of luck with all your projects, my friend. Writing is such a high when everything falls into place. The money is secondary.

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    • Hi Cathy and thank you for taking the time to write such a great comment. I’m with you in everything you’ve said.
      I’ve never done a course, but I learned to tighten up my word count by reading about it and then applying it at a writing group, and then in competitions. It was shortly after that I won my first competition and decided I’d grasped the idea. I too was a babbler. 😀
      I even apply my word-reduction to my novel writing – ‘don’t use two or three words when one will do the job’.
      I now have seven titles in my military ‘shorts’ anthology, and five titles in my sci-fi shorts, so I’ll have to exercise my imagination a bit more and get some more ‘strange’ ideas working.
      I also agree that the money is secondary – if it wasn’t, we’d be doing something else! 😀
      Take care.

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      • I don’t know if you write hard or soft sci-fi, but I lean toward the soft–as I think the population in general does. So many times in hard sci-if, the technical jargon can get in the way of a good story.
        I’m sure whatever stories you come up with, they’ll be good. 🙂

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  6. Thank you for you your confidence my friend, and I hope to prove that it’s not misplaced. My erotica is hard as opposed to soft, but I have a feeling my sci-fi will be soft, due to my limited knowledge of photon beams, ultra-sonic heat reactor motors and deep-space warp-drives. 😀
    Only today, during my afternoon break I came up with an idea for another story for that particular collection. I’m looking forward to producing the stories, and if you don’t mind, I might ask you to have a look at one or two when I’ve reached that stage.
    Until later.

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