It's deadline day! If you haven't entered the Insecure Writer's Support Group 2021 Annual Anthology Contest, today's the last day (September 1, 2021)! If you're polishing up your manuscript, be sure to get it in by today as a formatted Word file to firstname.lastname@example.org. The genre this year is Sweet Romance and the theme this year is First Love. More details can be found on the Insecure Writer's Support Group website.
The authors of Dark Matter: Artificial sure know what it's like to work up against a deadline. We've all been through it in order to submit our stories for last year's anthology! What was the process like? A few authors share their experiences below.
Stephanie Espinoza Villamor: It took me a while for my IWSG anthology idea to fully form. Once I had "the one" story idea I was excited to write about, I just had to make the time to write (usually while my young son was asleep) in order to make the deadline. When I try to write a novel, I often don't know exactly how the story will turn out. But when I write a short story, I usually have the ending in mind and it's all about getting to that ending in a logical way where everything introduced in the story is "paid off" or resolved. Once I've made it to the end I...rejoice! And then prepare for editing. I typically show my stories to a small group of friends in two different critique groups, ask for feedback (Google Docs is helpful for this), and then start the rewrites until the manuscript draft feels as strong as possible--usually a week or two before the deadline (sometimes a day or two before the deadline!). I don't like to submit at the very last minute just in case something goes wrong, although I've done that a couple times in grad school....
Tara Tyler: When I hear the IWSG topic, I either immediately think of a story or I just don't feel it. Like this year's contest, I started but couldn't feel it, so I dropped it. Since I have more time in the summer to write, I usually at least put together an outline. Once I start the first draft, the flow of it tells me if I'll be able to make the deadline. I actually like deadlines--they motivate me! The word count is where I struggle sometimes. If my word count gets too long, I have trouble cutting away words while trying to keep the soul of the story vibrant.
Deniz Bevin: All of my recent short stories seem to happen the same way: I get an idea (usually in the summertime!) and have to write down the entire story right away before I lose it. This is how my anthology story came to me. I've had other stories I've entered over the years in the various anthology contests but I don't think those other ones fit quite as well into the theme or the tone of the collection. After I've written the story in my mad rush, I type it up (if it was written on paper) and complete one or two rounds of edits before sending it out to beta readers. Then another round or two of editing, and yet one more if I've decided to submit it somewhere. There's always something to tweak...
One of the best parts of the IWSG Anthology process has been seeing the story published and finally being able to call it done!
Olga Godim: I always try to have sufficient time when I write fiction to a deadline. Never do it at the last minute. Fiction needs editing, at least two rounds for a short story. And I would never send an unedited entry to a competition. So I plan in advance, with plenty of time built-in, and usually submit my story days or even weeks before the deadline.
Elizabeth Mueller: I rather enjoyed my experiences writing for the IWSG. I start off mulling over the theme and listen for the mood that I want to come across: Do I want it to feel scary? mysterious? mournful? adventurous? After stewing over it for a while, I sit down, pray for inspiration, creativity, and motivation. I finish it in one sitting before I get back to it for editing before creating the query letter for submission: the most challenging part sometimes is crafting a clever summary!