What has made story-tellers believe that it’s a person’s situation that is what makes them interesting? Hospital stories. Cop stories. Time travel stories. Reality shows. Tabloid magazines. It’s (almost) all garbage. An interesting story-teller will never capture an audience if they cannot bring anything more to the table than the circumstances. Writers, bring the reader into the mind of your characters~!
So many writers draw on what they know and then are trapped by it, failing to use it as inspiration to get on with it–to get to the good part. Successful fiction has thought of any reader questions and already answers the ones that are worth answering.
Let’s say two editors read the new Ken Liu piece from the slush pile and are amazed. They both approve the award-winning author’s latest and, still on a high, move to the next piece. This one is by another of their favorite authors, who (for the purpose of this fictitious exercise) is fictitious. Unlike Ken Liu. Soon the editors are perplexed over this new piece about “Tim, the Boy Who Thought About the Circus.”
The first editor has questions by the end of the piece, about the character. The facts are all here. But when does this take place? Had the circus ever been around before? Was the strong man really gay? Why were there hyenas but not tigers? What did it all smell like? Didn’t Tim get dust in his eye? Did he want to join? Did he have any empathy for the poor animals or maybe the carnies? Did they really have small hands (the carnies)? Would it be better if one escapes (the animals)? Maybe leaves a scar? Maybe a carny leaves a scar? Is it ‘carny’ or ‘carney’…?
So much for the first addled editor.
The second editor reads all about Tim, but instead thinks, “Boy, that Ken guy is an awesome writer… I bet he gets all the girls.” And then he votes Tim off the table completely.
As an author, you got one shot with a reader. Don’t waste it. If you haven’t worked out the reader experience–anticipated reader questions and answer the ones that are worth answering–by the time you submit it, your story is probably a miss.
Given March, 2014 Stories, would you vote?
Scent of Darkness wins. Stupid Poll.
In stores, too?
Note that it can take weeks for our monthly issue to appear in those catalogs, so if you are too impatient waiting for your issue, you do have the option of using the direct links to your favorite format, which you can “sideload” on your own. Once our monthly tasks in the four channels above are completed, then Nook is probably the first thing to show up. If they are not first in the eBook market, at least they can be first to market.
Can you keep it up?
It might not seem worth all the work to distribute monthly, so we make sure that every issue is at least 15,000 words. We’ll need your submissions for that, right? Hint, hint?
As a writer, why should I care?
Because, when you change from publishing in journals to publishing yourself, you’ll learn a lot about where your work is being read. I love graphs. Don’t you? Here is one about worldwide markets for all eBook sales:
Find more statistics at Statista
Let’s face it, we’re getting stories we like, but we could use more submissions. You writers get personal feedback on every submission. It’s like we’re right there with you telling you, “No,” but holding your hand, while we do it. Doesn’t that sound nice? Creepy, you say? No.
We’d like the authors to have a chance to add a post-script to their piece and have it included. This isn’t original but we like it, so we’ll add it on a case-by-case basis. Just think how nice it is when Robert Osborne comes out and tells us a little context or backstory, before or after a film and it makes the viewer go, “Huh, wow, Bobby’s getting old.”
You know the drill: We’re calling writers for literary fiction short stories and flash fiction submissions at our journal bdlit.com … genre fiction is OK, too.
Selecting first-person narrative is high-risk. Will you, the writer, create a first-person story that is anecdotal, reminiscent, exposition-heavy, didactic or …? Odds are: yes. Check out this example:
- Narrative gives off this tone: “This is important because I remember it.”
- Readers think: “Stop talking already. I’m trying to hear the story.”
Is this your story? If so, try shifting the narrative power to stealth mode. It more easily transports the reader without speed bumps, without authorial intrusion. Does “first-person” always fail? Of course not. Just be objective about how your choice in relating your story either complicates or enhances the reading.
The Way to Shangri-La
David W. Landrum
“Your calling to live in an ashram and pursue a certain type of spiritual attainment is at an end. You have come on this pilgrimage to find new direction. Your calling has changed.”
Scent of Darkness
It seemed to absorb the dark of night so that in dawn’s twilight it appeared more than merely black but an actual void, an emptiness in the air that one might step through into another place altogether, like Alice’s rabbit-hole.
It is an old thing. The kind of machine that was innovative a hundred years ago, but now is pretty left behind. I like to keep it on hand just to see how the old markets are doing. They never do very well, but I still have money out there, locked away.
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