Different stories need/demand different methods.
I found out about “writing to the point” and Algis Budrys a few years back (from Charlie Finlay as a matter of fact and coincidence) and I’ve tried to keep the ideas in the back of my mind since. Once you know how to do something, you can do it right — and know how/when to break those rules to the benefit of a story.
While some people might think that using those seven steps may gut their ability to be creative, I prefer to consider them as one more tool. One that’s essential when I’m trying to work on a complicated story that needs to have multiple layers and complexity.
Truthfully, shouldn’t every story possess those hidden depths?
That being said, I’m pretty sure I’ve got my story for Fantasy & Science Fiction and Charlie’s submission window outlined to the point where I’m ready to face the next 22-36 days with a positive outlook. Whether I finish by the time the window opens on January 1 or when it closes on January 14 will depend on life.
Which it always does since I’ve got a day job and I’m old enough to need more sleep. ;-)
I don’t have a title yet, but I do have an opening sentence and a pretty good idea of what I want a reader to see in the closing scene, and that’s as good a place to start as any other. Oh, and I know I can’t run longer than 40 pages/10,000 words, and that’s another reason to outline beforehand since I’ll want the story to read as clearly and concisely as possible.
Clear and short is a definite goal. Because even if I don’t sell the story to Charlie (I’m certain there will be stiff competition), I’ll want to have a story that will find a home somewhere else.