A tip for short story writers


The Interwebs host an unlimited number of suggestions on how to write fiction, as well as countless books from people far smarter and skilled than I. For those trying to determine if a short story (ie less than 30,000 words) truly has merit, I recommend the following piece of advice…

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Criticism – when to listen, when to ignore.


— Photo by Kennedy Library

While I don’t claim to be an expert, after receiving critiques from fellow writers and editors for nearly a decade, I feel I have a pretty good handle on what critiques to give credence to and which ones to ignore.

By ignore, I don’t mean dismissing the critique partner or disregarding the entirety of their comments. Most critiques cover a variety of points, so I rate each individual criticism on its own merit. Otherwise, I risk missing out on valuable feedback or never being able to keep a critique partner.

But there are definitely signs that can help filter out the good from the bad.

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Getting Published: The odds are against you (or are they?)

6894514803_05bab6de11_zPhoto by: Lucas Moratelli

Please note: This article is in regards to being published in traditional markets versus self-publishing. 

Writers face many challenges on the long road to becoming a published author — lack of time, money, resources, inspiration, support, etc. One of the biggest challenges (IMHO) is simply staying motivated against the overwhelming odds of getting published, or at least, the perception of the odds.

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STORY: Campside Sadistic (Flash Fiction | Horror)

Campside Sadistic – 1100 words

By T. A. Fenner

Just a little popcorn flash fiction I created for a contest that required the use of “It was a dark and stormy night” in the story.  Didn’t win, but the editor thought it was a fun read. In any case, figured it would be a good story to get the Halloween season kicked off… It is Halloween season, right?

Anyhow, check it out below!

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The evil “WAS” may not be so evil after all…


Photo by: Thomas Hawk

If ever there WAS a word that caused a whole heap of consternation within the writing community, it most definitely is the word “WAS.” A lot of time and effort has been spent focusing on whether or not this little word (and its variants (wasn’t, were, weren’t, etc) and others like it (looking at you: am, is, are, being, be, been, etc) are truly the bane of the publishing world or whether they are completely justified showing up within the beauty of our prose.

In this author’s opinion, the answer is a frustrating: It depends.

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The Ideas they Carried

Writing is taking the long road to say something simple.

                Stand up for what you believe in.

                Try not to be a dick.

                If we all work together, we can do great things.

The funny thing about acknowledging that you’re doing something complicated to convey a seemingly simple message is that what you do suddenly carries a bit more weight. Because of that, most stories weigh more than they’re worth. Readers abandon them in search for something they are willing to carry. Continue reading

Writing in the face of life’s distractions

Robin Hood Daffy & Friar PorkyEver notice how the world seems to be against you anytime you go after your dreams? It’s  as if some unknown force, like a great guided missile system in the sky, has decided to target you with distractions and obstacles the second you want to focus on any of your wanted desires.

For me, the moment I plan to write anything, EVERYTHING possible seems to come my way: issues at work, kids need to be shuttled to practice, wife needs me to fix a dozen things, phone calls from a friend, the dog wants to play, and… well, poop happens. And don’t get me started when I actually am writing – because that’s like a siren calling out to all, alerting them to come running for the interrupting fun!

Don’t get me wrong. I love that I have “a life” and that people need me. I’m not one of those who wishes to be a hermit crab, holed away in a far off land without another soul around me (though there are days!)

No, I simply do my best to Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust! anytime a distraction or obstacle comes my way. (and now you see the reason for the graphic!)

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Expression or Impression: Writing’s Role in the Rigmarole

Are you stuck in a loop of writing, editing, and submitting with no end in sight? Maybe you have an agent, but he hasn’t been able to sell your stuff. Maybe you’ve published a short story in your local paper. Whatever the case, you are a writer. Obsession isn’t always the right word to describe the passion you put into your pieces, but you put pen to paper and create while somehow juggling life in the foreground.

Most of us are background writers, and that’s more than okay: that’s reality. Now we’re approaching summer, and I always find myself a little more energetic. Why, just these last two weekends I pruned my honey locusts, planted some lilacs, and finished a frame for a three-by-four-foot painting. Now I need to write. Continue reading