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Rivising the End for a Short Story Contest

I just hit the send button for a national short fiction contest. Whew. Re-writers are complete.

I decided to take the last two chapters of an unpublished novel and see if I could rework it for this short fiction contest. With changes, it worked. Here is what I had to cut and edit to make this piece fit the elements of short fiction (sorry I could not be more specific at this time):

Here is what I had to cut and edit and delete to make this piece fit the elements of short fiction (beginning, middle, climax, resolution) for this 5,000-word contest:

  • I obviously had to keep my main character but chose to cut other characters that would have made no sense without additional pages for backstory.
  • Swapped existing characters i.e. boyfriend with Uncle, deleting boyfriend completely and others for lack of backstory requirements
  • Delete entire characters i.e. younger sister that is only mentioned twice in the last two chapters and other characters that would have seemed to pop in with no rhyme or reason.
  • Delete two paragraphs to tighten plot and hit required word count.
  • Add in backstory stated in beginning chapters: time, ages, setting, full names.
  • I gave this piece a new title so as not to confuse when the novel is published…some day.
  • Made verb and noun changes that I will go back and change in the complete novel manuscript: making the story tighter and brighter!
  • Had to make descriptions of four chapters into two, allowing the authenticity of the story to carry over into a shorter piece.


At first, I thought this task would require little time. But the more I read and fiddled with the prose, I found it took more work to ensure every detail made sense. We shall see!

Last week, I handed off the manuscript of my next YA novel to my proofreader, so had little time to for re-writes. Over the winter, when in full writing mode, I tossed the idea of this conversion around in my head. Then a couple weeks ago, decided to give it a whirl.

If nothing else, it was good practice for tight writing while keeping suspense high. While the short story has never been my forte, I’ve come to enjoy it. And hope you will also consider writing a small tale of your own.

~Happy Trails and remember to unplug for a spell and Gallop into Adventure!

One last thought…I have been selected as the coach to escort our three archers to nationals in Kentucky! I’m thrilled and honored. We will leave May 9th and return the 13th. There will be more to come. You can count on it!


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  1. Great process, Carmen, that all can benefit from. Congrats on accompanying the archers to Kentucky and best of luck for them.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you, Arletta. I look forward to both journeys.

  2. Thanks for sharing your national short fiction contest adventure. Sounds good.
    PS: Love the App picture and the ones of those going to KY.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you, Gabby! Isn’t that Appy nice! She’s in the book I have coming out this summer.

  3. I imagine this was a lot more work than you anticipated, Carmen. It isn’t uncommon to create a novel from a short story, but you did it in reverse. Good luck with the contest!

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you, Mary. It’s funny, I do a lot in reverse. For some reason, it works best for me! I can even back a horse trailer into a camping spot better than pulling in forward. What does that state! 🙂

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you, Kathy!