Very often when reading slush for the Writers of the Future contest, I come upon stories that at first glance seem to be perfectly acceptable. They presented a protagonist who had a problem to overcome. The setting was reasonably well defined. The story proceeded at a good pace, with the problem escalating nicely. Often there was a surprise twist at the ending, and the conclusion seemed appropriate. Yet when I got done reading the story, it just lacked … something.
A lot of people want to give you writing advice. I’ve felt it—trust me, I’ve been there. During my long years trying to break in as a writer, I felt that I never lacked for someone jumping in to tell me how this writing thing had to be done.
I earlier talked about the first four parts of a story—setting, character, conflict, and theme. These are all parts that you often think about in brainstorming. Often, before starting a short story, I don’t even sketch out my characters, for example. So you might only give them minimal attention. But once you begin putting words […]
One reader asked me to discuss a bit about what I call “grounding” the reader. Quite simply, grounding is the fine art of letting the reader know what is going on. You need to focus on some basics…
Recently I’ve had a number of my students ask, “What makes a story great?” For example, what sets apart a story that wins major awards from one that doesn’t? What makes one story monumental, a landmark in its field, while another story fades from memory?
There is a myth among the general public that the greatest writers are born with uncanny innate talents that average folks dare not aspire to.
Yet there is only a sliver of truth to that argument. Talent is helpful, especially for new authors who are just trying to break in, but you can’t make a career out of it.
Mike Resnick has 5 Hugo Awards and has won numerous other awards from places as diverse as France, Japan, Spain, Croatia and Poland. He is also first on the Locus list of all-time award winners, living or dead, for short fiction, and fourth on the Locus list of science fiction’s all-time top award winners in all fiction categories. Here’s our interview with him.
A while ago I promised to tell you why I reject good stories when I’m reading for Writers of the Future. So let’s talk about those stories that get an Honorable Mention
This past week I’ve been judging Writers of the Future. Most of the stories come to us electronically, so much of my day is spent opening files, taking a look at them, and then putting in a review–usually one that says “Rejected.” I hate that “Reject” button . . .