Last year I helped out at the Orycon Writers Workshop, filling in for Mary Kowal (gulp! Talk about filling big shoes!) for her short story critiques. The other professional in the session was Claude Lalumiere, anthologist and short story writer extraordinaire.
It was wonderful to just sit back and let him work his magic. While Claude and I both had insights into plot and character issues, what stuck with me was his advice on beginnings. Both pieces we read in the workshop had interesting openings, but Claude recommending paring them down quite significantly. I could see his logic and I've been using it a lot on stories of mine. Many of my beginnings have had evocative, intriguing openings ... that hold back the action of the piece
Today, my story "Barnstormers" goes up at Ideomancer. It originally began with the protagonist readying herself to fly in an airshow, and it was packed with gorgeous language and delightful imagery. I loved it! But I realized that lovely beginning was a page that kept us away from the trouble lying at the heart of the story, so I chopped it off.
Now, I'm pretty sure there's nothing as lovely in the story as the bit I cut off, but the piece is now lean and muscular--which, as any Daniel Craig fan will agree, is gorgeous in its own right.
Also, speaking of lovelies, I just received a scrumptious-looking short story collection from the extremely gentlemanly J.R. Hamantaschen: You Shall Never Know Security. The cover, I think you'll agree, is creey & pretty!