I spent last year putting together my collection of short stories – the product of ten years of writing. It’s a long apprenticeship. Some have seen the light of day a few times, having been entered into a wide range of competitions over the years. Minor successes: shortlisted, and a couple published in anthologies.
Short fiction, as it is often now called, covers a variety of writing lengths, from a 50-word flash fiction story to a mini novella length of 20,000 words. I hover in the lower scale of 100 – 4,500 words.
If you want to know the essential elements of short fiction without reading any, you could do worse than watch short films. Such a diverse number available on YouTube. One of my favourites is from Film Akademie (German distributors) The Present. Look closely at how much is packed into the 4mins 18 secs. How the story is set up and develops, and the resolution and pay-off.
You need readers to test your work out. You write and then find people to read what you’ve written. I have mentioned this several times in blogs. A firm believer in putting yourself out there. You can’t win a competition or get a short story published unless you send your work off for others to read and judge. What’s the point of writing just for yourself?
Rejection means nothing. Just that the judge preferred someone else’s work or the publishers are looking for something else and your work does not fit their criteria or catalgoue. Chacun á son goût.
I have integrated my Feathers through Time stories, which are distinctly historical fiction, into the body of my collection which is more contemporary. Now titled Straw and Feathers, I am happy to let the world see my work.
I have been researching publishers to approach. I’ve looked at Salt Publishing who has a submission window in November for full manuscripts. Do my stories fit their style? Not sure that they are experimental and diverse enough.
I also have my eye on Agora Books which is part of Peters Fraser + Dunlop (PFD) one of the longest established literary and talent agencies in London. They are a digital first publisher with a diverse list of fiction and non-fiction, classic and contemporary, old favourites and the next big thing. They have a very welcoming submission page:
Got something to show us? Send it in!
So here goes! Their automatic reply on receipt of my manuscript says: ‘You can expect to hear back from us in about two to three months. We read every single submission we receive, so this takes a little bit of time!’ Sounds good!
I note that PFD is not shy of using exclamation marks. I try to avoid them in my writing but it is tempting when they are used so promiscuously by everyone in text messages to add that bit of extra emphasis!!
Stop it now!