journalist friend jokes – at least I think she’s joking – that she
keeps an emergency bottle of vodka under the seat of her 4×4 for her field
trips. Sometimes we all need that
metaphorical quick fix for our writing. (We all know drinking is a bad idea for
writers, don’t we?)
written a short story for an upcoming competition and it requires an
emergency edit. Perhaps you’ve dusted off a story that has been languishing in
a drawer and feel it needs some spark.
Here are five 10-minute edits for your short story to get you to the deadline:
and check out the view. Spend 10 minutes freewriting on the
world of your story. Describe the setting around your characters. A messy
teen’s bedroom. The smell of an empty church. Be as specific as you can.
quirky. Spend another 10
minutes focusing on your main character. Give him a quirk – maybe he buys
a paper from a street vendor every day. He doesn’t read it – he just feels
sorry for the guy on the side of the road.
bad thoughts. Take 10 minutes to vent on the page.
The catch? Do it the 1st person in your antagonist’s viewpoint.
List all the nasty things you want to do to the hero. Don’t hold back –
let it all out.
a bomb! Squeeze in another 10 minutes brainstorming some radical plot
points for your story. Does your character find a suspicious parcel on a
park bench? Does she burn her soufflé just before a first date? Shake
things up for your character.
the flowers. Take 10 minutes to skim through your
story and highlight the parts you feel are working. These are your best
blooms – could they be a clue as to where the story could be
Keep all these
notes with you when you do your final edit and see if your story doesn’t emerge
as tighter, quirkier and more vivid. You
may not have time to write a new story from scratch but you may be able to give
an existing one a second shot at life. If not, just reach for that vodka under
If you enjoyed this post, read:
- The Top 20 Literary Quotes About Short Stories
- Finding Inspiration for a Short Story – Three writers who inspire me
- How to outline a short story for beginners
- Cut to the Chase – Three ways to get your short story started