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 another general pattern.
What is the plan?
There is a 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 around two months to produce one short story.
Now, when that one has been filed away for the first time, look at another story. Write the first draft and file it away. Perhaps it has taken a few days in both cases, to get those first stories written before filing the efforts.
Let’s say that it’s now about ten days since writing the first short story, and both the first and second tales are ‘resting’. You could now start the third idea for a short story.
Using this method, by the time you find yourself filing the fifth or sixth story, you could feasibly pull out the first one again, and take a look at it. When you’ve read it and edited it again – file it as ‘second draft’. Take each first draft in sequence and edit/improve it to the next level. During the process, you 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.
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.
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 anthology’s stories – simultaneously. I presently have around fourteen short stories underway.
Is there any other way to maintain a fresh outlook on the construction of an anthology?
How do I write two stories at once?
Simply by using the same method, I outlined earlier. I took several weeks to get my next thriller up to the 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 could be at the fourth draft and resting whilst I read and review for a while.
Yes, I would no doubt write a short story during that time.
A summary of tips?
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 really 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 labour.
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 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.
What about a title for an anthology?
One method is to base the title on the theme or the genre, but my favourite method as can be seen with any of my collections is to use the title of one of the stories. i.e. Smoke & Mirrors: and other stories
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 Sample Short Stories. I also have short stories making an appearance in mixed author anthologies like:
Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration by English Heritage (various authors),
The Last Waltz (an audio anthology) by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)
Holes: An Indie Anthology by members of the IASD
Depths of Darkness – Psychological horror by members of the IASD