I’ve been reading, writing, critiquing short fiction for the past few years, and reached the following steps by trial and error. This is what works best for me today.
- Write the story.
- Write several drafts until you think you can’t make it any better.
- Put the manuscript down for at least a month and work on other projects.
- When you pick it up again you’ll see the draft wasn’t so great. Edit until it’s a lot better.
- Don’t stop. Work on the story until you think it’s the tits, and importantly, you’ve pushed yourself to the limits of your ability.
- Ask your writing group to critique your masterpiece. Oh, and tell them to rip your work to pieces.
- Go back to step 2.
Another writer’s opinion could be a chisel or a sledgehammer. Either is a tool. Use it well.