Friday, March 08, 2013

Let's get it started

I have a silly ritual for starting a new short story. I open a new document and I make it look like this:

Yes, before I even start writing my piece, I want it (basically) in proper manuscript format. Why? Because I am a professional writer, and pros don't write things just to lock them up on their hard drives. Pros send their stuff out in the world. Having my story look professional is a good reminder that my piece is going places.

Another thing I do: I give the piece a descriptive title and I put that at the top of the page. Why? Because in Word 2003, which what I'm usually writing in, it automatically generates a file name when you hit the save button, and I'm tired of erasing the words "Wendy Wagner about xxxx words" all the time. It's dumb, but I love having the computer automatically name my story what I'd like the file to be called.

I also set the title line to "Brilliant Title," or "Kickass Title" every single time. This is because I want my story to have a kickass title at least once in its life, and I'm not always great at titling pieces. When I've finalized the story, I will save a copy in my "Submissions" folder that has the title for a file name.

When I hit a hard spot in my story and I'm tempted to give up, I just scroll back up to that first page and see my official-looking first page. It always makes me write harder to try to live up to its standards.

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