Wednesday 27 January 2016

A few successes

I've had a busy January, with current/forthcoming appearances in these publications -

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Short story DOs and DON'Ts

Bartleby Snopes’ guidelines include a list of "Things That Generally Turn Us Off" that's worth bearing in mind wherever you send your stories -

  • Stories written in present tense (especially third person present tense)
  • Stories with graphic dead baby scenes
  • Stories about writers
  • Stories about struggling marriages
  • Stories set in bars
  • Stories with more backstory than plot
  • Stories with undeveloped characters
  • Stories that are overly reflective
  • Stories that rely heavily on second person usage

Comma Press have so many dislikes that I can only list a few here -

  • Coming of age stories
  • Stories about ordinary, mundane days/existences in which suddenly something happens to change everything
  • Stories that aim for complete thematic unity (as though the writing of them was a jigsaw puzzle to be completed) above surprise or delight
  • Stories about a) student life; b) splitting up with a partner; c) taking drugs; d) unlikely travel/rave experiences
  • Stories whose justification in a workshop scenario might be 'this really happened'
  • If you're writing from a female perspective: writing about 'going mad for a bit and having lots of dangerous sex with unwholesome types'
  • If you're writing from a male perspective: writing about breaking out of humdrum, conventional existences/work; getting stoned; wild irresponsible nights with unhinged mates; meeting salt-of-the-earth old blokes in pubs who, while not having the education of the protagonist, have home-spun wisdom to impart and are prone to saying 'bloody heck'; feeling intellectually superior.

Jonathan Franzen wrote -

  • Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money
  • Write in the third person unless a ­really distinctive first-person voice ­offers itself irresistibly.

But before you start rewriting, consider the Guardian’s review of the “Best British Short Stories 2015” anthology where they write that “It would appear that – going by this collection and scrutinising the author biographies – your chances of appearing in Best British Stories 2016 will be given a boost by"

  • being a woman
  • having a connection with the north west
  • writing your story in the present tense
  • be a bit weird, or uncanny

Saturday 9 January 2016

My 2015 write-ups - hits and misses

Here are the 6 most popular of my 2015 write-ups -

And here are the 6 least popular -

Saturday 2 January 2016

A poetry submission schedule for early 2016

There are fewer critical dates for poetry submissions than for story submissions - more markets and fewer windows. I shall try to submit to most of these (mostly UK) competitions and submission windows -