Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Short Stories, Anyone?

In my younger days, I loved short stories. Reading them and writing them. I remember racing home during my lunch hour to read Hemingway's Nick Adams stories over a tuna sandwich. Nice break from my secretarial position in the district attorney's office.

I enjoyed reading the short fiction in Cosmopolitian, Redbook, Alfred Hitchcock magazine and Ellery Queen. Literary magazines cluttered my coffee table. Sadly, and in spite of all my creative writing classes, I never mastered the beginning, middle and end of the short story. Most of my rejections came back with "nice slice of life but not a short story." At some point I gave up. Unfortunately, I gave up reading them too.

Recently, I stumbled across a fun little literary magazine that has whetted my appetite for short fiction again. Check out The First Line. This is no fly-by-night literary magazine. The First Line has been around for ten years, and their purpose is to jump start the imagination and help writers break through the block that is the blank page. Each issue contains short stories that stem from a common first line. Can't get much more fun and challenging than that. How many different directions can we take when we start from the same place?

I have my very own copy of the Fall issue of The First Line, and I'm impressed. Want to write short stories? Believe me, it's a nice break from the long stuff. Why not accept the challenge The First Line offers: Create a story using their following line:

Sometimes the name they give you is all wrong.

The Deadline is Feb. 1, 2008. Check out The First Line for details and submission requirements. In fact, go ahead and subscribe. You won't regret it.

Sometimes the name they give you is all wrong.

Works for me--I've never felt like a Jessica!


Erica Vetsch said...

I love short stories. I love to read old reading books. My kids' literature books are full of great short stories that we love to read over and over.

Unfortunatly, I've never mastered the skill myself. :(


I try to cram a novel's worth of characters and events into too small a space. In a recent contest, the judge's remarks on one of my entries said the same thing. He told me I had to get to the point fast, tighten the action, increase the tension. "This isn't a novel," he said. "You don't have time for all the extras."

Yeah, but I still try! I keep writing short stories so I can improve the novels.