Monthly Archives: March 2016

March 2016 Critique

This seems to be the time of year when people are busier than usual, when things unexpected and dramatic (and horrible) can happen. Be on guard – be prepared to protect your soul, your loved ones, yourself. From the Ides of March to the end of March – gird your loins (does anyone know what that really means? I can imagine holding both hands in front of my privates and giving the Marilyn Monroe face of shock (I love that scene).).

It sounds silly, but it’s true. From about a fortnight before the equinoxes, there are ripples in the lives of most people. Why? Are there dark forces that are able to get closer to their targets at this time? I sure don’t know, but I have noticed. Has anyone else noticed? Is the writing at this time of year more shadowed, more dense, darker, more terrifying?

The stories (from WIP’s) critiqued this week both centred on shadows and darkness, fear and loss. To enable the reader to feel that context in the way we (the writer) want them to, we need to ensure the story is deep in character, told as if the reader is wholly involved and connected to the character. We understand, because that’s what we wanted when we were the readers, isn’t it?

Is that what readers still want? I do.

We were a bit short this week, one person protecting an ill friend, one protecting herself from illness, and another off to seek employment in these tough times. A person could write a story about these things, couldn’t they? The drama of survival of body, mind and soul in a heartless, fast and relentless world of pursuit (do we ever catch what we pursue?).

We also discussed the hellish road of e-publishing, e-marketing, the issues surrounding getting our anthology ‘out there’ and the genre that would be appropriate – so many things to consider. This is the ‘business’ side of writing. The ‘job’ is to create the product (good enough to inspire someone to look at it more than once) and the business is getting that product out to the people who will or would or want to make use of it, buy it, enjoy it.

As a writer, I hate the business side of the job, but it’s necessary. Traditional publishers are not the route for most writers any more – they can pick and choose and keep a stable list of horses (whoops! writers). For the rest of us, no matter how good we are (or think we are), we need to understand the business side and allocate enough time to enable our product to support the prospect of going back to the job we love.

When our books come out, please enjoy, please comment/offer review. We need you, the reader, to be the other half of our journey in this world of story. And we want to know what you think.

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Filed under Monthly meetup/discussion

Mad March and Short Stories

The secret’s out, the plans are drawn , the long-haul steps up to the headline for the SFC anthology are under way! It’s been interesting, difficult, frustrating and time-consuming – but the final countdown begins. Most anthologies have one person who runs the show, chooses this and that and how and why and when . . . we chose democratic discussion, no set story length, no compulsion. Let the Short story tell the story. The anthology is not literary, it is story: a person struggling to resolve a problem. Now, person is a malleable concept, and problem is a bit squishy, too, but listen to the story – feel the pain of conflict, the joy of resolution, the tears and fears of journey.

Soon, it will be out soon (soon is a concept that to a writer means something different than the concept of a child, or an ordinary person, or an orc). Soon (2016) – watch the publication page.

What is a short story; how is it defined? Who makes those rules? And why do we have to take notice of these elements? Because the reader has expectations of what it is, how it’s done, who it’s for, and what they want. The story/ies must indicate in the first few words enough information (not a dump) to show the reader what genre they’re in, the type of story that follows, and their words need to entice them further down the track by the use of something that interests them, intrigues them, pulls them ever onward until ‘the end’ – that’s a story; that’s all stories – that’s our stories.

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Filed under Toolbox for Writers Craft