I've recently read and reviewed Ross Lockhart's The Book of Cthulhu. It's a really good anthology, and more than that, an inspiring one. There are so many extraordinary, well-crafted stories in it that I wanted to make my next story to be good enough to warrant inclusion. Could I write a story that could follow "The Oram County Whoosit" and not embarrass myself?
I don't know. I don't think so... yet. But I'm revising the story that I've said that about, and I think it's better than anything I've yet written. According to my initial review group, it shares the strengths of the majority of my work; strong characterization, and a good fight scene. I think it has more description and atmosphere that my work up to now.
It's been a long, hard slog. Between classes and work, I've had to assemble the story bit by bit, and that often makes scenes and events inconsistent. And writing style can vary from day to day, depending on mood and the events of the day. The protagonist is also a huge variation from my usual, as well as being set in the near future of a city I've never been to. In early writing classes, they say you should write what you know, but there comes a time when you run out of parts of your life to mine. And I can either continue to dig up my life's shallow grave, or I can strike out and try someone who has very little in common with me. Let's hope this character comes out as strong as I hope she does.
There's also a lack of exposition in this story, which may not be the best approach because it's set in the near future, and there's a lot of technology out there that isn't familiar to the reader. But the characters in the story wouldn't talk about that technology any more than you or I would talk about how our cell phones work. We use them when they work, curse at them when they don't.
I think it's a step up in terms of the quality of my writing. I'll ask what you as readers think if it gets sold and if you read it.