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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 125, Volume 12 -- September 2008

Editorial

Another month, another issue...

I'm sure that everyone knows that it is almost time for another Presidential election here in the US. Go out and vote this November. Make your voice heard. No matter whom you support, your vote is important. OK, that is all I have to say on the matter.

As for writing, I'm doing it. Are you? If not, then why not? Writing is something that takes practice. You don't get any better at it if you don't do it on a regular basis. Most professional writers agree that producing at least a set amount of words per day is one of the best methods of becoming a better writer. 1000 words seems to be the most frequently reported number of words per day recommended by pros who take the time to make recommendations. That's only one Flash Fiction piece a day - Or two pages of printed text, for those of you who keep track of such things. Some writers that I know recommend that you just keep plowing ahead, producing text, until you have a finished story to edit. Their opinion is, and I agree, that edits and revisions are best done on a completed work. Otherwise, you can fall into the trap of endless edits, never actually getting any further on the story as you polish and re-polish the scrap that you have. I think that they're right. Start editing and revising too soon and you'll never actually reach the end of the story that you've started. There's a time for edits, and that time is after you have a completed first draft. After that, you can go back in and start fixing broken sentences, grammatical errors, plot holes, and clumsy dialog. Endless editing is a time-wasting diversion. Something that will keep you from ever reaching the end of your tale. Sure, there's going to be loads of stuff that you'll need to fix, but if you try to fix it too soon you can fall into the trap, the never-ending side-track, the desire to polish and edit and correct until you've got every word just right - But you never wind up reaching the end of the story. You can polish all you like, but if you don't have the whole story before you start the revisions, you're wasting your precious writing time.

Even if you can't think of the next day's wordage, write anyway. You can always delete it later, after the first draft is done. Actually, don't just delete the stuff you decide to edit out. Save it to a separate file, so that you can mine it later for any gems that you might have produced whilst you were in the throes of creation. Save the excised stuff. It might fit into something else that you're writing later. Who knows what you might wind up making use of in the future?

That's why it's called a "rough draft" in the first place. You're not supposed to polish every word until it shines. Not until you have that first, rough draft. You can polish yourself right out of having a completed first draft that way. The time-wasting, mind-numbing, "got to get this section perfect before I can start the next chapter" urge is a trap. We all need to be too smart to fall into that trap.

Write now. Revise later. Write every day. Edit when the rough draft is complete. Tell the whole story, then go back and fix the errors. It's really easier that way. Plus, you wind up with whole stories instead of just partial drafts that sit around going nowhere. It is work. It isn't easy. But I know that you can do it. You're here at Aphelion because the urge to write has bitten you, and bitten you hard. You owe it to yourself to go the whole distance. You owe it to the people who will be reading your stories once you have them done and have gone through the editing process. But most of all, you owe it to your stories, themselves.

Now I think it's time for me to shut up and let you go read...

Dan

Serials & Long Fiction

The Salvaged Account of Sir William Barrows
By I. D. Weis
An alternative history about Leibniz, Louis XIV, parallel realities and �the best of all possible worlds�.

Short Stories

Alkyone
By L. J. Geoffrion
Roy Fisher had two problems. First, he kept flipping back and forth between his life on the ramshackle space station unaffectionately known as the Tin Can and some antique horror show of a psych ward. And second, he had to figure out whether the new kid, Becker, was 'human', with normal empathy and ethics, or a psychopath.

Epiphany
By E. S. Strout
The plan was to extend the life of one of history's greatest artists. The result was ... unexpected.

The Battle for Greystone Castle: Beanie and the Cops
By Michael J. Flanagan
Greystone Castle, the home Beanie and Satch had made for themselves and Kathy, was under siege again. And dealing with cops was trickier than dealing with Floaters.

Venus Genetrix
By C. S. Malerich
Franz was sure that the brothel run by the woman who called herself Venus had something to do with the dead tourist found washed up on the beach. Something strange was going on there -- the question was, what?

A Dragon's Tale
By Ty Johnston
The dragon and the knight should have been enemies -- after all, the first time they met, the knight had done his best to kill the beast. But time and circumstance can change a lot.

Chatak's Bad Day
By Dan Shelton
It was supposed to be a routine supply delivery, one that wouldn't even require a copilot. Then Chatak woke up with every system on her ship malfunctioning -- and that was just the beginning of her troubles.

VirtuCom, Inc.
By Kevin King
Add-Man was having a bad day online. Every game he entered was killing him off in ways that seemed to be either violations of the rules or outright bugs...

GOD's Website
By Lee Gimenez
Michael's life is a mess. For comfort, he logs onto GOD's website for advice and absolution. The escalating donations aren't exactly helping with his financial problems, however.

Loose Contact
By Sidney Toby
He had the feeling that he was being watched... and he was right.

Beyond Dreaming
By Terry Larson
Kelvin Schneider's wife and best friend had been found in flagrante delicto -- and murdered. The police didn't seem to be making much progress in solving the crime, so Kelvin decided to dig deeper on his own. But the more he learned, the more questions he raised.

Results of Forum Flash Challenge for August 2008

Congratulations to Joseph Nichols, winner of the August 2008 Forum Flash Challenge. Check out "The First Step" and seven more excursions into the lives of reluctant superheroes -- after you read and comment on our other fine features, of course)... And visit the Forum Fun and Games area later this month for the NEXT challenge to your imagination and writing skills.

Poetry and Filk Music

As A Prism
by Michaela Sefler

Celestichthys
by James Matthew Byers

Contact
by Thomas D Reynolds

Grimm Reality
by Mark Edgemon

Synopsis
by Richard Tornello

The Fallen Niche Of Appollo
by Holly Day

Features

Thoughts on Writing #2: Your Grammar Is Eating The Neighbors
By Seanan McGuire
In an ongoing series, Seanan McGuire takes apart the engine of writing to find out how it works, and offers her insights into how to put it back together again.


Aphelion Webzine is © 1997-2008 by Dan L. Hollifield