Hello, anthology authors!
We had intended on sending a series of emails about the anthology, but here we are at the last week of open submissions. It’s been an unusually busy year for us, and we apologize that our short story intentions took a back burner. But since we have a few days left, we thought we’d send some updates about what we’re seeing. Hopefully this will help as you finalize your submissions.
First of all, the submissions this year have been incredibly strong! That’s great news for us, because they’ve been so well written and so much fun to read. Great work to those of you who have already sent your stories in.
On the flip side, we’ve also seen A LOT of plain old Western stories with a cowboy in trouble but no real twist or payoff. Great writing is the most essential part, but in a collection of stories with the same theme, if your story doesn’t offer anything unique or interesting, it’s not going to stand out in a competitive selection process.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, here are our five biggest tips for nailing your short story submission:
- In the Goosebumps movie, R.L. Stein says every story needs three things: a beginning, a middle, and a twist. Sell your ending. Surprise us, delight us, or make us feel an emotional connection. A short story needs a pay off. It can’t just… end.
- You don’t have room for a lot of backstory. Tighten up the moment you’re telling us about. Give us ONE moment in time that is unique and remarkable. Make it concise. Make it drive the story.
- In our Facebook Live last week, all of the panelists talked about the importance of character focus in a short story, because there’s not room for a big, convoluted plot. You have to make the character come to life and let them drive the direction of your tale.
- Conflict is key. What are the stakes? If there isn’t something at stake, the story won’t have tension or conflict and will fall flat.
- If you haven’t watched last week’s panel about short stories, go watch the replay. These authors are brilliant and they had so many incredible insights about why short stories matter and how to make them the best they can be.
As my thesis director always told me “write lean and mean.” He was a bit of a cowboy himself, and his point was, make every word count.
Don’t ramble. Don’t lose sight of what the story is about. Have a payoff at the end, and most of all, HAVE FUN WITH THIS! It’s a great time to explore a new genre or topic or writing style. Send your best—there is some STRONG competition this year—but don’t be afraid to get crazy with your cowboys.
We can’t wait to see what comes in next!
Frontiers: Past, Present, and Future Anthology, submissions open through July 24th.
Click on the image for details.