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June 13, 2009

Revising Short Fiction. Should Writers Do It?

Jeremiah Tolbert has posted an article on his blog Revising Short Fiction Is For Suckers which discusses the subject of revising short stories. It’s a great post and also has a long and interesting discussion in the comments.

If you don’t know, Heinlein produced five rules for writing (which I first read on Robert J. Sawyer’s site), and rule 3 was You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order, which was controversial then, and remains so. I think he was trying to stop new writers from endlessly tinkering with stories, but it’s open to interpretation.

The post discusses the earnings for a short story, the time required and the comments start to dig into what is the purpose of writing short stories for writers.

If you’re a writer you should read it, lots to think about.


I vote no.

Once the story is published, it's done. I think it's disingenuous to continue to futz with it, both because it changes the story - and because it isn't fair to the readers to say "Ok, I know you've already read this, but you need to read it *again* before you can read the sequel..." That way lies Marvel Comics levels of insanity...

Oh, my bad. Sorry.

In that case, I guess you'd mess with it for as long as it takes to actually sell it, then you're done.