Take risks and tell the truth: how to write a great short story
theguardian.com – Sunday August 15, 2021
Drawing on writers from Anton Chekhov to Kit de Waal, Donal Ryan explores the art of writing short fiction. Plus Chris Power on the best books for budding short story writers
The first story I wrote outside of school was about Irish boxer Barry McGuigan. I was 10 and I loved Barry. He’d just lost his world featherweight title to the American Steve Cruz under the hellish Nevada sun and the only thing that could mend my broken heart was a restoration of my hero’s belt. Months passed and there was no talk of a rematch, so I wrote a story about it.
My imagined fight was in Ireland, and I was ringside. In my story I’d arranged the whole thing. I’d even given Barry some tips on countering Steve’s vicious hook. It went the distance but Barry won easily on points. He hugged Steve. His dad sang “Danny Boy”. I felt as I finished my story an intense relief. The world in that moment was restful and calm. I’d created a new reality for myself, and I was able to occupy it for a while, to feel a joy I’d created by moving a biro across paper. I think of that story now every single time I sit down to write. I strive for the feeling of rightness it gave me, that feeling of peace.
Murder Books 101: The Rise of True Crime, From Highbrow to Cash Cow
tor.com – Saturday August 14, 2021
Conventional wisdom claims that true crime writing wallowed in the gutter, dirty and disreputable, until Truman Capote lifted it out of its own filth and washed it clean with the sweat of his literary gift. Earlier efforts are dismissed as crude attempts at what Capote would accomplish with grace and skill. Those were the rough drafts, but Capote’s 1966 In Cold Blood is the masterpiece.
The fact is, the financial triumph of Capote’s In Cold Blood (and the film version the following year) had as much to do with literary achievement as the fact that Capote was a white man who belonged to the right clubs and subscribed to the right magazines. His achievement transformed the marketplace, making true crime respectable in the same way that Maus and Watchmen turned comic books into “graphic novels” in 1986. Capote’s book allowed people to camouflage their morbid fascination with murder and mayhem beneath the seal of literature. In the old days, ministers gave their blessing to true crime to make it acceptable. Now, it was The New Yorker.
In Cold Blood changed how true crime was read, not how it was written. Most of what Capote did, other writers were already doing.
High points and pitfalls of writing in different genres, by Gail Aldwin
femalefirst.co.uk – Wednesday August 11, 2021
It’s considered good advice for authors to aim for success in one genre of writing and stick to it. There are few literary agents who seek to represent authors working across genres and publishers prefer to nurture writers in one area. This supports the development of a brand that makes it easier to promote and market a succession of publications and helps to generate a substantial readership. For many emerging writers there’s satisfaction in finding a niche but this approach doesn’t suit everyone. To invest all my creative energy into one area is a huge commitment, and it might mean overlooking other projects that bring their own rewards.
When I started as a writer, my ambition was to have The String Games published – a novel about the legacy of a missing child. It took five years to reach my goal and during that time, I enjoyed success with short fiction when Paisley Shirt a collection of flash fiction was published and thanks to a competition win, adversaries/comrades a poetry pamphlet found a home. As it took such a long time to develop my novel, it seemed sensible to work on short-term projects alongside it. This helped to build the creative stamina to bring my novel to completion. It’s great to have enjoyed success in other areas of writing but there are challenges in writing across genres which I’ll share:
The Hurdles of Finding an Agent
publishersweekly.com – Sunday August 8, 2021
As a first-time author lacking the platform I knew agents wanted, I decided to self-publish my first book—and it was a success. For my second book, I wanted to go the traditional route and find an agent. However, there was one thing I wasn’t sure about: Could I frame the success of my first book as an element of my platform? Or should I refrain from telling agents that there’d been a first book at all?
I started writing For Those About to Rock, a middle grade rock ‘n’ roll book, four years ago. My nine-year-old son and I shared a love of music, and I tried to find him a children’s book about musicians, but came up short. I decided I’d write my own: it would be like Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls—which features profiles of groundbreaking women written in a kid-friendly style—but about rock musicians. I made a list of 50 seminal bands and musicians across several decades and genres, including Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, BjÖrk, Jimi Hendrix, Beyoncé, the Cure, and Run DMC.
My editor says I have a compelling story, it’s just badly served by my writing
irishtimes.com – Saturday August 7, 2021
For the past six weeks or so I haven’t written a word. Not one. No sweet lines of inspiration have hovered delightfully above my head, beckoning. In short, the creative part of my brain shut down. Why? Because I’ve recently discovered my novel-writing skills are practically nonexistent. I’m rubbish at grammar and punctuation, my dialogue skills are defunct, and I tell too much without showing enough.
I just assumed after reading and writing a lot over the past 10 years that my novel-writing skills would undoubtedly improve. But having recently received feedback from a retired editor who worked for several big publishers, I discovered that although I do have a compelling story, it’s being badly served by the writing. If I can improve my grammar, punctuation and the other aspects mentioned above, I should, in the words of the editor, “lift the story to a higher level”.
Personal Rejections for Famous Short Stories
bookriot.com – Wednesday August 4, 2021
Every (traditionally) published author has had their work rejected along the way. A common piece of advice most writers come across is to break in with short stories, as many well-known authors have done. Once upon a time, magazines were also the way many novels were published — one chapter at a time — and they’re still popular for shorter fiction. Over the years many enterprising writers have, by choice or by necessity, founded their own magazines, such as the many literary magazines of the Harlem Renaissance. Many famous authors have published short fiction either before they publish novels, or concurrently. Shirley Jackson’s first novel was fairly well-received, but her story “The Lottery” made a big splash when it was published in The New Yorker, and likely found many readers who had been unaware of her book; perhaps they were quicker to buy her next novel.
‘I Don’t Believe In Writer’s Block’: Scott Alexander Hess On Writing Fiction
news.stlpublicradio.org – Thursday July 29, 2021
Ten years ago, Scott Alexander Hess published his first novel — and in the decade since, he’s published six more, if you count his two new novellas just out from Rebel Satori Press. That’s on top of a busy schedule as a fiction writing instructor at Gotham Writers Workshop and work as a consultant helping others with novels of their own.
The key, he said, is to write. Even when it doesn’t seem very good. That’s one reason he says flatly, “I don’t believe in writer’s block.”
The St. Louis native explained his philosophy on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.
What's in a Blurb?: The History of Book Blurbing
bookriot.com – Wednesday July 28, 2021
It’s cliche, but books are judged by their covers. For one thing, often the cover lets the reader know what kind of book they are buying. White woman in a gown or a shirtless muscle-bound man: romance. Bright cartoon picture superimposed with san serif: young adult. Dark with silhouetted figure in the mist: mystery. Dripping font titles: probably horror. So, let’s say you’re a genre reader, have found your section in the bookstore, and are trying to find something new. The next thing to examine are the blurbs. If Neil Gaiman stans see he’s read and endorsed a book, they will be more likely to give it a try. Haruki Murakami says this book is a must read? Then read you must.
Festival of Words guests talk fantasy writing, defining genre during panel
moosejawtoday.com – Sunday July 18, 2021
A selection of fantasy authors joined together to talk about how they approach writing a genre that includes anything the imagination can create, during the ongoing Saskatchewan Festival of Words.
The panel was pre-recorded, as part of a small series of sessions from the Festival of Words available for attendees to watch anytime.
Moderated by crime writer Wayne Arthurson — who said he was an avid fantasy reader excited to join the discussion — authors Melanie McFarlane, C.L. Polk and Hiromi Goto sat down to talk about the details of creating fantasy fiction.
The Bleeding Cool List Of Agents Selling Graphic Novels To Publishers
bleedingcool.com – Wednesday July 14, 2021
So this is what I have been doing, on and off, for the last two weeks. You're welcome. A compilation of every announced graphic novel from a major publisher over the last year-and-a-half, arranged by which agent negotiated the deal – if they did. The bookstore graphic novel market has been booming, and so many deals for 2022, 2023, and 2024 are being done through the lockdown and pandemic. Speaking with many major comic book creators wondering about projects out there, I discovered that most haven't even considered an agent and just try and use their own personal contacts and knowledge which they often find lacking. Here's an attempt to highlight the people working on comic book creators' behalf in what is an expanding graphic novel bookstore market.
Get the free newsletter | Submit a news item or article | Get Writers' News for your website