I’ve been a bridge writer, and I’ve been a fiction writer.
Bridge fiction writing is where the two markets happen to meet. At this point in time, I have no doubt that there are many bridge players who have great ideas for themed fiction that uses the game as a vehicle to convey a plot – and I’d like to encourage them to find their voice and share their work.
There are great publishers (and websites, literary journals and blogs) specifically catering to the bridge world; there are also many other general or genre-markets who would, I’m sure, be more than happy to run an excellent story with bridge as plot element.
Not sure where to start?
Here are 4 bits of bridge fiction writing advice that could help you to see your work from page to publication.
#1: There’s short, short-short and long
Just like a bridge hand, one of the first important decisions concerns length. Not the length of the suit, but the length of the story.
The length of a story can dictate which market is best for its eventual publication; of course, a story’s length also tells you how much detail you plan on fitting into the allowed words.
There’s flash fiction (up to 500), short fiction (500 to 5,000), novellas (5,000 to 25,000) and novels (25,000 +) as a rough guideline.
Which category does your bridge fiction fall into?
#2: A Little outline (goes a long damn way)
Outlining a story is an essential part of writing one. An outline means that the writer knows where the story is going – and going ahead without this core idea means you’re fumbling around in the dark (and not in a good, risque, sexy or useful manner).
An outline should have a basic idea of the plot: beginning, middle and end. It should list the characters involved – and since we’re talking about bridge fiction, it should list the games or deals (if any) that you plan on including in the story.
Sure, you could risk writing fiction without the outline, but this always comes back to bite you during the edit. Trust me.
#3: A pitch (and how to write one)
Fiction and ideas for them are introduced to editors through pitching.
A pitch tells an editor more about the idea, and more about why they should care enough to publish it.
Some writing markets ask for a synopsis (or thus, pitch) first, while others ask for full story submissions. Check guidelines for the individual writing market to find out what’s preferred, or ask first.
For a pitch, you want to aim for a synopsis that’s able to condense your entire story into 100 to 200 words. For a full submission, still include this synopsis even when also including the full story.
Introduce yourself, introduce your story, then sign off and wait.
It’s usually okay to follow up with a writing market a few days to weeks after your submission.
#4: About rejection (& editorial relationships)
Rejection is a natural part of writing.
Now, write that on the board a couple of thousand times, just like in The Simpsons. (No, actually, don’t do that…)
It’s still true, however it should never discourage an aspiring writer from writing.
When a story gets rejected, a few things can happen to that story:
- It’s perfect for the same market, with edits.
- It’s perfect for another market, with or without edits.
- It’s perfect for self-publication,with or without edits.
- It’s perfect for no markets, and it sits for longer.
- It’s perfect for rewriting entirely, months or years later.
None of these things are bad, and all of these potential situations can be used to further your writing instead of pushing it back.
Does that take the sting out of writing rejection enough?