Thursday, May 10, 2007

Acquiring a taste for short stories

I've heard it said there is little market for short stories. I would have been right smack in that demographic a relatively short time ago. Most short stories I came across in magazines were plain weird or hard to understand. What was the point?

But now I've changed. Flannery O'Connor's short stories first started to whet my interest. They fascinated me and even haunted my dreams after I read them. Most recently, Alice Munro has me thoroughly in love with hers. I want to read everything of hers I can get my hands on. Since she is prolific, I have lots of enjoyment ahead.

I'm also excited by what Bethany House editor Dave Long has done over at his Faith in Fiction blog from time to time by running short story contests.

Most recently, Dave teamed up with the new Christian literary magazine Relief Journal and its new fiction editor J. Mark Bertrand (who blogs Fridays at The Master's Artist), for the Daily Sacrament Contest.

The winner and a runner up will both be published in Relief---which is a great magazine. I encourage you to support it. And I hope one day soon, we'll have a Canadian outlet for good short stories by Christians.

But what's also amazing and encouraging is how good the other runners up are. One of them is by Canadian author Susan Fish. Go and read her Four Feasts. It's really good and I still find myself thinking about it even though I read it several days ago.

One of the advantages of short fiction is that it allows a writer to experiment with point of view, voice, character and so on without making the massive commitment to follow through with a full length novel. Which is not to say short stories, when done well, are easy to do.

One of the aims of Relief, the contests at Faith in Fiction, and our own The Word Guild awards to be announced June 13, is to encourage better and better quality in Christian writing.

Or writing by Christians. Unfortunately "Christian" as an adjective has come to mean "inferior" or "derivative" or "preachy" or "narrow" or "overly sweet" in some quarters. Authors who are Christian have gone a long way to show the stereotypes are unfair. Check out Susan's story.


Some authors of short stories published on Dave Long's blog have landed contracts on the strength of their work.

Marci Laycock placed first in the contest Dave ran with Infuze Magazine with her wonderful "Missing Christmas."

No comments:

Popular Posts