An interesting thing happened on the way to this post. I’ve read voraciously my whole life, but I’ve never been much of a fan of the short story form. I don’t know what I was picking up before I started writing fiction but I typically found short story plots underdeveloped, with endings either too abrupt or too open ended for my taste (maybe both).
Recently, I’ve been working on an attitude adjustment. Conventional wisdom suggests that for first-time novelists looking to attract agent or publisher attention, literary credentials such as publishing short stories in magazines and anthologies can help move our queries up in the slush pile.
I do have an idea for a short story that happens to takes place here in Virginia, and while I’m noodling on it, I’ve actively started reading short stories again to better learn the form. Not surprisingly, I’ve had better luck getting into mystery short stories.
Laura Lippman is a new favorite, and her range often surprises me. Her stories can get pretty dark, which catches me off guard for another reason: have you seen the wholesome mugshot of her, with that broad, sunny grin, on the backs of her books? Could she really be writing some of those scary stories?
I’ve also been reading a lot of fellow authors from the Mid-Atlantic area, in particular, a series of anthologies by the Sisters in Crime Chesapeake Chapter, which I recently joined. I’ve greatly enjoyed what I’ve read from their first three collections. Their fourth anthology is out and the big launch party is this weekend (I hope to attend). And guess what? They’re calling for contributions to the fifth one. Only one requirement: the story has to be set in the Mid-Atlantic. Hm, maybe I should stop noodling and start writing?
Maybe you should too? Check out our own upcoming contest:
The Wicked team will be holding a unique contest this month. We’re asking our readers to try their own hand at writing short stories. Entrants submit a non-erotica short story under 3,000 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 20th, 2010. First prize is to have your entry critiqued by three members on the team, the story will be posted here on the site, and you’ll be invited to guest blog with us in May! Second prize is a critique by two team members and to also have the story posted here on the site. Third prize will be one critique and an honorable mention.