Tag Archives: short story

Short Stories

Over the past five years, there has been a resurgence in popularity for short stories. Usually authors have had to work with a book-length collection before getting a publisher’s eye. With digital technology, though, there’s a much bigger market for shorts. Check out this article from the New York Times for more.



Writers know that they have to help readers suspend their disbelief. It’s also critical that viewers watching a film do the same. This interview comes from the corporate world but if you read it with your author’s eye, you’ll find some great advice.

–Present your story in their context. That is, connect with readers where they are, not from your lofty position as all-seeing author. Use concrete details to evoke emotions, paint images and usher  readers into the fictional world.

–Be curious. Ask questions. What if the plot twists here? Why does this character act that way? Where does this one plot point happen? When in his life does the major turning point come? How can the character grow, change, develop?

–Weaknesses are irrelevant. Focus more on your strengths. That doesn’t mean ignore the weaknesses; just don’t get so hung up on them you forget your strengths.

Amazon Reviews

If you’ve been following the recent controversies about Amazon’s reviews (and the reviews that show up on other sites), you know the problem: marketers and/or authors are paying for good reviews to help boost their ratings at Amazon and/or sales.

Here’s the flip side of that review process. This article talks about how fans of Michael Jackson are hitting a new biography with one-star reviews to sink the book’s ratings.

The author calls the attack a way to use the right to free speech against the right to free speech. The reviews themselves aren’t flawed. But the engines that rank according to the number of stars on the review clearly is flawed. Any author who’s works are sold on Amazon or other e-retailers needs to be aware of the kinds of social movements that can impact their sales.

Story Ideas: Tips

Here’s a post that lists 5 ways to generate story ideas. One of the tips is to read your junk mail…um, OK.

Now, I’ve been writing and editing for twenty years. In my experience, it’s pretty rare that writers actually need ways to come up with story ideas. It’s actually more of a problem to decide which of those ideas is strong enough to support a story, what format that story should take, and how best to put it on the page.

However, the same article suggests taking a small scene from one story or book and expanding it into an entirely new story. I’ve had clients do this with classic works of mythology to great success. And of course there’s the retelling of Gone with the Wind and other classic novels from different points of view that recently have become bestsellers.

So…what’s your take on story ideas? Do they come in a flood or a trickle? What helps, what hinders?

Workshop: Query Letters in NC

Writing the Perfect Query Letter with Laine Cunningham, presented by Alice Osborn

Location: Center for Excellence, 3803-B Computer Dr. Suite 106, Raleigh, NC 27609

Saturday, March 9     Time:  1:30-4:30pm

Fee:  $55 (Early Bird till March 1st)/$75 after

Registration: Click here  

Your query letter is every bit as important as the opening pages of your novel. It’s your first opportunity to show your writing skills to a prospective agent or editor. Make it count! Make it shine! A good query letter should make that editor and agent want to read your material…and it should grab their hearts in the thirty seconds or so they give each query in their pile. In this class, publishing consultant and owner of the Writer’s Resource Laine Cunningham will discuss the three important elements to inject into your query so you can get published. Fiction and nonfiction authors writing books, stories or articles will benefit from this class.

Laine Cunningham’s clients consistently garner attention from the nation’s top publishers and agents. Several of her clients’ books have been shopped around Hollywood and have received film options. She has been quoted on CNN MoneyMedia Bistro, and The Writer Magazine for her opinion on the end of the Harry Potter series, the “Oprah Effect,” and Sarah Palin’s ghostwriter. She has presented workshops and lectures for The Loft, the nation’s largest independent literary organization; the National Writer’s Union; The Writer’s Workshop in Asheville and writing conferences across the country.

Short Story Collections

This article from Review Review is probably familiar to those of you who write short stories. Too often authors hear from agents and publishers that their collection is fantastic in so many ways…but they aren’t interested unless the author also has a novel.

I’ve sponsored a writing contest for the last four years. When I first approached the literary magazine that administers the contest, the publisher and senior editor both agreed that short story collections, linked or not, would be accepted and encouraged as submissions.

Last year a collection won first place, and in previous years, collections have placed second, third, or as honorable mention. The Blotter and I are very clear in our support of short stories as viable, living art.


Short story and nonfiction contest.

The First Place winner will receive a $200 cash award and consideration for publication in the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC’s upcoming anthology, entitled, Once Around the Sun: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales for All Seasons.* Our previous anthology, A Christmas Sampler: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Holiday Tales (2009), won two Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Best Anthology and Best Short Fiction.