“The Battle for Moscow, Idaho,” available at Reflection’s Edge.

This story’s from the start of a period when I was trying to get all my short pieces to capture a single emotion. In this case, regret–and how it keeps on hurting you long after the regrettable incident’s forgotten. Back then I’d hardly written any short stories since college and had just spent half a year writing and revising an epic fantasy novel, so it’s more than a little possible my so-called “short” work was bloated as a dead comedian. I revised it a couple times and that only made it longer; I was fleshing out the speculative elements and doing my damnedest to clear up the logic in a story where the main character’s barely aware of what’s happening to him.

When I sent it off to Reflection’s Edge, editor Sharon Dodge noticed that bloat at once. She’d only done some line-editing on my two previous stories over there, so her suggestion I make major changes–to tighten it significantly, basically–caught me by surprise. When I waded into the story, I found it shockingly easy to cut 6800 words down to 5400 without losing anything I loved. (Well, there was one paragraph I thought was awesome but didn’t advance the story. RIP, mini-rant on whacked-out survivalists.)

Her own pass shaved it down to 4700 at the sum cost of a whole lot of blather and a single half paragraph I considered plot-crucial. That part’s back in. The rest is gone, and I don’t regret losing any of it.

Some people question the value of running stuff in anything that pays less than the prozines or is less prestigious than Electric Velocipede, but this made me a bit of money and earned me a few readers. Just as important, working with Ms. Dodge has taught me something every career writer needs to know: how to take editorial direction, and when to argue with them over a proposed change. The answer to that, it turns out, is “Far less often than I thought.”

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I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy author, based in LA. Read More.
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