Tag Archives: flash fiction

A Critical Mistake to Avoid When Writing Short Fiction

Don’t treat short fiction as a novel.

Whatever you do—DON’T treat short fiction as a novel.

What I mean is this: when you are writing short fiction, it takes a different approach than if you’re working on a novel. The key is brevity. You have to say just as much as you would in a novel, but you have to do so succinctly.

A good rule of thumb when writing any piece of short fiction: stick to as brief a period of time as possible. The story can take place in fifteen minutes in one location. It doesn’t have to be wildly ambitious.

Of course, rules are meant to be broken…once you’ve achieved mastery. There are short fiction writers like Isaac Bashevis Singer whose short stories read like mini-novels in the depth and complexity of their plot. In my opinion, Singer was one of the best short fiction writers. He could get away with flouting that rule; once you grow as a writer, by putting in much time and effort, you can too.

However, for now, as an aspiring writer, I suggest adhering to the following acronym:

Keep

It

Simple

Stupid

And I guarantee that your short fiction will be a lot easier to write and have a much greater chance of getting published by a literary magazine.

Do you have any other tips for short fiction writers? Feel free to leave a comment!

Can’t Get Your Novel Published?

Platform.

Do you know what this word refers to in conjunction with the publishing industry?

Platform is the reason why Lena Dunham landed $3.7 million for her book proposal. If you want to sell a manuscript, more than the quality of your content (though it should certainly be up to snuff), you need to develop a reputation. If you’re thinking that your reputation is going to come from your book, you’ve got it backwards.

There are many ways to develop your platform. If you have public exposure in some way, you’re already set. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to most of us and it can be hard to generate (I’ll leave that to others far more qualified than I am if your intent is to get famous). However, a solid portfolio of writing in other forms can do wonders for establishing a ready-made audience eager to read your book (which any publishing company would love).

A novel is a huge undertaking. I certainly think all writers should attempt one, but consider the following diverse forms as a way to gain exposure and increase your chances of selling your idea for a book:

Poetry – Whether it’s traditional or free-verse, avant-garde or transparent, there are tons of poetry journals that always are seeking quality expression.

Short Fiction/Flash Fiction – Scale back your world building and capture a photograph. That’s the art of the short story. Again, there are tons of literary magazines that are always in search of quality fiction. Regardless of your style, there’s a market for everything (of quality).

Plays – Why not write a play, send it to a contest, or work with your local theatre to have it staged?

Screenplays – Think with an eye for the visual. There are some excellent television programs and films that are quite a bit more literary than most fiction (e.g. Mad Men, my favorite program). If you want to sell your script, there’s an excellent book written by Blake Snyder called Save The Cat! that gives an insider’s view into what kind of scripts sell in Hollywood and how to write them.

Nonfiction – Do you have expertise in a subject? It’s so easy to write an E-book and publish it on the Web. While fiction can be harder to attract an audience, with nonfiction there’s always a built-in audience for just about every topic.

Freelance Journalism – Yes, the pay is terrible, but your name can get out there with some rather influential people.

How Can I Publish My Fiction and/or Poetry in Literary Magazines?

Publishing your flash fiction, short fiction, and/or poetry in competitive literary journals is rather simple once you know how to navigate the literary market. This holds true regardless of your style, the content of your work, or whether you’ve been published widely (or at all).

Below is a simple step-by-step guide to publishing your writing in online or print literary journals:

1. The obvious step: write your flash piece, short story, or poem. (You don’t want to get caught up in the hoopla that coincides with the thought of getting your work published until you’ve actually written something.)

2. Edit your work. Seriously. Edit your work. Your idea may be brilliant, your literary voice may be powerful, but if there are serious (or even minor) errors in your piece, it will most likely be rejected. You want your piece to be flawless when you send it out.

3. Sign up for a subscription to Duotrope.com. It costs only $5.00/month, yet Duotrope’s value to an aspiring writer is worth so much more. Duotrope contains a searchable database that connects you to (at the date of this posting) 4924 competitive fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets.

4. Search Duotrope.com for an appropriate journal for your needs. You can search by genre, style, length, payment, submission type (electronic or postal), subject, medium (electronic, print, or audio), response time, and acceptance ratio. You can also browse their index and find journals through serendipity.

5. Read the journal. Seriously. Read the journal. If they do not post directly to the Web, buy an issue. Read it carefully. Do the pieces match your style? Is the content similar enough? You don’t want to waste an editor’s time by sending a perfectly good piece of yours to a journal that is a bad match. It will be rejected.

6. Follow the submissions guidelines to a T. If they ask for a bio, read some of the other authors who’ve published with that journal and analyze how their bios look (Are they whimsical? Serious?)

7. Format your manuscript to industry standards. Here is an excellent link on how to do so for short fiction. Also, make sure to comply with the journal’s preference for postal or electronic submissions. If a journal accepts electronic submissions, find out from their submissions guidelines page whether they want submissions attached as a document or whether they would prefer submissions to be pasted in the body of your email.

8. Send out your piece/s and wait for the results. If the journal that you submitted your work to accepts simultaneous submissions, you may want to find other journals that are good fits for your piece/s and send your writing to them as well (so long as they too accept simultaneous submissions). Should your simultaneously submitted work be accepted in a journal, make sure that you notify all other journals that you submitted that piece to of your acceptance ASAP.

Best of luck!

I hope that this guide proves to be of value to you as you go forward in your literary pursuits.

Finding a Good Literary Journal

Hello. Since this is my first post, before I get into the heart of this topic, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Alfonso Colasuonno. I am the founder of The Literary Game. This blog is a service designed to help writers improve their knowledge in various capacities (craft, publishing tips, etc.).

First off, you should congratulate yourself if you’ve written a strong short story or poem. Never forget that is an accomplishment in and of itself. However, what of the next steps? If writing is your passion and you want to get your work out there, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with various literary journals.

The first key to finding a good literary journal for your fiction or poetry is to read the journals that you may come across and ask yourself if your work deviates from the style, subject, and format of that particular literary magazine. If it does, regardless of how high quality your work may be, you will likely receive a form rejection.

The heart of finding a good literary journal for your work is to find an appropriate match. If the content on the journal is similar enough to your own work, your odds of getting published increase. It may be a good reference to compare getting your work accepted in a literary journal to getting an interview for a job. If you do not research the company, if you do not update your resume to reflect the needs of the job, it is highly unlikely that you will be considered for the job. Such is the case in the literary world.

The heart of this lesson: Make sure that your writing is a good fit for what the journal has already published.